Special FeaturesChecking in With… Hedwig and the Angry Inch Tony Winner Lena HallThe new feature series catches up with Broadway actors during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Andrew Gans, Ruthie Fierberg
May 12, 2020
As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to some of our favorite artists to see how they are coping with the self-isolation on a daily basis, both physically and creatively.
The series continues with Lena Hall, who won a 2014 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for her performance as Yitzhak in the Broadway bow of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. She also starred in the musical's national tour, playing Yitzhak and, once a week, the title role. On Broadway, Hall has also been in Cats, 42nd Street, Dracula the Musical, Tarzan, and Kinky Boots. She regularly performs in concerts and clubs around the country and released a series of recordings entitled Obsessed that celebrated her favorite bands and musicians. Hall also co-stars with fellow Tony winner Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, White Noise) in the TV adaptation of Snowpiercer, which premieres May 17 on TNT, and her new recording, The Villa Satori: Growing up Haight Ashbury, is available on iTunes.
What is your typical day like now? I wake up and snuggle with my husband for usually an hour. One of us will get the coffee and tea. We will always make the bed together. Then, while he’s on phone calls all morning and working, I will do home improvement projects like painting the basement, putting the finishing touches on the kitchen, fixing the gutters, organizing the pantry, designing the dining room, and overall just working on my interior design skills so I can one day be an HGTV star. But, if the weather is nice, then my husband and I will go on a motorcycle ride through the beautiful Connecticut country side. We might even drop in on our neighbor Patti LuPone.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period? Watch my new TV show Snowpiercer airing on TNT May 17. Not only that, but you can get a head start on it by watching the Bong Joon Ho film of the same name, as well as reading the Snowpiercer graphic novels, which are all excellent. Here are some other suggestions: there is a book series called TheSurvivalist by Arthur Bradley, which is an easy and fun read. Also, the book series One Second After, One Year After, The Final Day by John Matherson are also awesome. These books make me feel like no matter how bad the world may seem to be right now, it could be way worse. An old TV show called BeyondBelief became available on a streaming platform, and I’ve been re-watching those to revisit my '90s tween years. Also, if you wanna get a real peek into my tween days, watch the TV show seaQuestDSV and the movies Ladybugs and Sidekicks. There is one constant in all three of those, so let’s see if you can figure out what it is.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation? I have been through hardships but never anything like this, and I know it is a hundred times worse for a lot of people out there. All I can suggest is, reach out if you need help. Continue to reach out because you are not alone even if you are alone physically. I am someone who, when stressed or depressed, will isolate myself from others and shut down emotionally. Luckily, I have my husband who is continually getting me to open back up and communicate. This communication always helps me feel a hell of a lot better. So no matter what your situation, there is always someone out there who will listen to you and either help or simply be there. Try not to emotionally isolate or shut down.
How are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Honestly, I’ve been stuck. There are so many things I want to write, and I was in process for many different projects and now suddenly the only thing my brain can do is in the physical space, like home improvement, interior design. As much as I would love to pretend like I’m not that affected by this pandemic, the minute I sit down to do something quiet like write, that’s when all the anxiety, worry, and future fearing come and cloud my brain. All I’m saying is that for those who are reading this, I want them to know that it’s OK to not be able to do something during this time. It affects us all in our own way, so don’t compare and despair.
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time? My HGTV show called LenaOverhaul, where I come to people’s houses and “overhaul" not only their decor, but also organize their closets and such—all the while singing and giving them a one-on-one show. Ha! But in all seriousness, I am working on doing some at-home concerts with musicians remotely to raise money for charities who lost funding because of the pandemic. Because my musicians are doing these concerts for free, I am allowing them to choose which organization they would like the money to go to.