DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Little Mermaid, Phantom, Love Never Dies and Master Class Star Sierra Boggess

By Andrew Gans
19 Apr 2013

Boggess as Fantine
Photo by Alastair Muir

Question: Getting back to Fantine. When you know you’re going to do a song like “I Dreamed a Dream,” which has been performed so much, how did you go about approaching it?
Boggess: I do this with all the characters I’ve ever played. I never try to be somebody else, but I always invoke who has come before. So if I would be starting to get anxious, then I invoke Patti LuPone or Ruthie Henshall on stage. I’m part of this line of these amazing women who have played this part before, so [I try to] bring their energy on stage with me. But, like I said, I researched the character as if I’ve never done the show before. I read her story. When you read what she goes through, you could write an entire musical about Fantine alone. It’s incredible. So that’s what I did. I researched her and I personalized it. It was actually so therapeutic to go on stage every night and once everyone leaves, it’s just me and the orchestra and the spotlight. I can just sit down on the stage and tell the story. I feel like I recharged a bit. It was like I got gas in my car and I just came back to New York. I just recharged doing that show. It was really a special production to be part of.

Question: You were also supposed to be part of one of the most-written-about musicals this season…
Boggess: Whatever are you talking about? [Laughs.]

Question: I’m sure you followed and read the different stories [about Rebecca] as they unfolded. What was your reaction?
Boggess: Well, it just broke my heart for the cast and the crew and the orchestra, who had all basically been unemployed for a year with the promise of this musical happening. You know, no one ever promised us consistency in this business, so you can’t get angry about a show not happening. But at the same time, being promised something for over a year, that’s pretty heartbreaking. So that’s where I went with it. I don’t know the truth of anything. [Laughs.] I don’t know any of the ins and outs of what’s true and what’s not true. It is just unbelievable. There’s a lesson in it, of course. There’s got to be some huge sort of lesson for the entire Broadway community in there. Something to think about.



Question: If Rebecca gets done, would you still be interested in doing it?
Boggess: Oh God, it’s so hard to know anymore! [Laughs.] If that gets done….I have no idea anymore with anything! [Laughs.] Oh man...that poor show. Everyone should just go back and read the novel since it’s been so tainted lately. Just go back and read the beautiful, beautiful novel and then everyone will feel better.

Boggess in Master Class.
photo by Joan Marcus

Question: What was it like for you to be part of Master Class?
Boggess: Tyne Daly is one of the greatest, not just actresses, but people I’ve ever met in my life. I just felt every day was a master class with her. She’s one of those people who, on stage, you look in her eyes and you just know, this is war. I’ve learned so, so much from her. I could talk to you about her for an hour. And I walked away with, once again, that feeling of being recharged from working with someone of that caliber. And then playing [opposite] one of my favorite people that ever lived – Maria Callas, and learning from her too…I really learned how much I loved YouTube with that show. Because without YouTube, how could I have ever seen Maria Callas actually perform on stage? It’s incredible what is up there that you can see from these performances from so long ago. I just learned so much just researching that kind of stuff. And also just getting to sing opera, which is something that I’ve loved since I was kid. I was obsessed with La Boheme. So to get to sing in a way that I never thought that I would. I’m not going to be an opera singer… It’s a whole other level of life that I didn’t know anything about.

Question: After this concert, do you have any upcoming projects that you can talk about?
Boggess: I don’t know what I’m allowed to talk about anymore. [Laughs.] But yes, there’s tons of stuff going on. One of the things I know I can talk about is I’m going off to Japan for the entire month of June to do concerts with Lea Salonga and Ramin Karimloo, and a guy called Yu Shirota, who’s a big pop star in Japan. And we are doing concerts there. I am so looking forward to it. I’ve spent a little bit of time in Japan but never a month, [but never got] to really perform there and [now I will opposite] one of my favorite people, Lea Salonga, so it’s pretty awesome. So I’m really looking forward to that. And we’re all going to sing stuff we’re known for, so I’m going to sing a lot of my favorite things. We’re singing from Les Miz and Phantom and Disney, of course. What a great month of June I plan on having! [Laughs.]

[The Riverside Church is located at 91 Claremont Avenue. For tickets, visit BroadwayArtsFactory.org.]

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.