Checking In With… 2-Time Tony Winner Judy Kaye, Star of Diana, The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia!, Nice Work If You Can Get It, More

Interview   Checking In With… 2-Time Tony Winner Judy Kaye, Star of Diana, The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia!, Nice Work If You Can Get It, More
 
Kaye stars as Queen Elizabeth in the new musical Diana, which will be filmed for Netflix before reopening on Broadway next year.
Diana_Broadway_Press Preview_2020_Judy Kaye_HR.jpg
Judy Kaye Joseph Marzullo/WENN

As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.

The series continues with two-time Tony winner Judy Kaye, who was playing Queen Elizabeth in the new musical Diana when the current pandemic temporarily shuttered Broadway theatres. The Broadway favorite won her Tony Awards for her performances in The Phantom of the Opera and Nice Work If You Can Get It, and she also received Tony nominations for Souvenir and Mamma Mia!. Kaye has also been seen on Broadway in Anastasia, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Sweeney Todd, Wicked, Ragtime, Oh, Brother!, The Moony Shapiro Songbook, On the Twentieth Century, and Grease, while her Off-Broadway credits include Souvenir, Cather County, and What About Luv?.

It was recently announced that the Christopher Ashley-helmed Diana will be filmed on the stage of the Longacre Theatre, where previews began March 2, without an audience. It will then be released on Netflix sometime before its new opening night of May 25, 2021.

READ: Broadway’s Diana Musical to Be Filmed for Netflix Release

Judy Kaye
Judy Kaye Clive Barda

What is your typical day like now?
I am so fortunate. We have been quarantined in the farmlands north of the city. I start every day stretching! (Years of pratfalls and swinging on chandeliers have made it imperative that I begin by doing my PT.) Then coffee and a walk in the garden. Being able to tend the veggies every day is yielding a bounty! Snap peas are fading, as is the arugula. Now: green beans, zucchini, Pattypans, cucumbers, various pepper varieties, and the tomatoes are about to go nuts! Then walking, either on our country road, on a golf course, or up at the dam. Then we cook a lovely dinner, watch some TV and “beddy bye.”

What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
I have been doing some catching up on all that streaming has to offer. I finally binged Grace and Frankie! I was so sad when we finished it. The New Yorker, Modern Love, lots of gorgeous nature shows, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Hollywood, and the moving and brilliant Hamilton. Suggestions?

What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation?
I am loathe to give advice, but when I start to despair, I try to get outside of myself. These days that means putting on my mask and bug spray and literally getting outside. Somehow when I am in nature, the fact that I feel part of something much bigger than myself makes me feel better.

Karen Mason, Louise Pitre, and Judy Kaye in Mamma Mia!
Karen Mason, Louise Pitre, and Judy Kaye in Mamma Mia! Joan Marcus

How are you keeping your creative juices flowing?
I have really been enjoying just being in our home and living. I desperately miss going to the theatre, making that pre-show cup of Nespresso coffee, putting on my makeup, greeting my fellow actors, and telling our story with our wonderful cast of players. But, after over 50 years of keeping a strict schedule, just doing some hanging is awfully nice.

Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
We just finished a four-week Zoom workshop of Diana, which was pretty wonderful. Zoom is somewhat challenging for making music, but the work was quite fantastic! That fed me creatively, to be sure. I’ve also been doing some videos for Diana and various charities. And, baking!

What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
I regularly donate to a number of causes including the arts, animal welfare, human rights, and the environment, supporting organizations that I feel passionate about, such as The Humane Society, The Actors Fund, AJWS, HIAS, NRDC, The Ocean Conservancy, and The Nature Conservancy. I give to Feeding America, World Central Kitchen, and City Harvest as well as the ACLU, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and People for the American Way. And, without a doubt, I am supporting Joe Biden for the sake of everything!

READ: Checking In With… The Scottsboro Boys Tony Nominee Colman Domingo, Playwright of Dot, Wild With Happy, More

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