|Our interview with Skylar Astin, Lauren Pritchard, Phoebe Strole and Brian Johnson, all making their Broadway debut, in part two of a six part series, "Going Geeky on Spring Awakening" being presented in conjuction with BroadwayWorld.com and the podcast, Broadway Bullet.|
Our interview with Skylar Astin, Lauren Pritchard, Phoebe Strole and Brian Johnson, all making their Broadway debut, is part two of a six part series, "Going Geeky on Spring Awakening" being presented in conjuction with BroadwayWorld.com and the podcast, Broadway Bullet. At the conclusion of the series, we are giving away 10 pairs of tickets to "Spring Awakening" including a meet-and-greet with the cast and creatives afterwards. CLICK HERE for more information on the contest.
You can listen to this interview and many other great features for free on Broadway Bullet vol. 17. Subscribe for free so you don't miss an episode.
Part three of our series with Director, Michael Mayer and Music Director, Kimberly Grigsby will be posted Thursday, Dec. 14th!
Broadway Bullet Interview with Skylar Astin, Lauren Pritchard, Phoebe Strole and Brian Johnson.
BROADWAY BULLET (BB): I’m here with four of the cast members from “Spring Awakening” who are all making their Broadway debut with this production. How you guys doing?
ALL: Good. We’re good.
BB: Everybody want to take a second to introduce themselves and what role you’re playing?
LAUREN: I’m Lauren Pritchard and I play Ilsa.
SKYLAR: I’m Skylar Astin and I play Georg.
PHOEBE: I’m Phoebe Strole, I play Anna.
BRIAN: I’m Brian Johnson and I play Otto.
BB: All of you were involved in the Off-Broadway production at the Atlantic, right?
BB: What was it like there, getting ready?
PHOEBE: Hot and cramped.
BRIAN: Yea, the air conditioning was broken, like every other day.
SKYLAR: It was a grueling summer.
LAUREN: Yea, it was brutal in the summer.
PHOEBE: So we bonded.
LAUREN: And it was an old church and it still belonged to the service. Like, that church and the church next door and the church next door owned the church and they wouldn’t let them do any repairs on the roof or any insulating or touch it so they could make it, like weatherproof for the summer.
LAUREN: And so the sun was beating down and the lights would go up from the show
PHOEBE: And when it rained it would drop through inside.
BRIAN: And when it rained it would be raining with us inside the performance.
SKYLAR: It was great, it jazzed it up. I mean, hey we were sweating like crazy but we were feeling it.
LAUREN: It was fun
PHOEBE: You did not just say jazzy?
SKYLAR: What? I can say jazzy, you know. Whatever.
BRIAN: The intimacy of the space was the best part though, because we were all in a giant room and there was just nowhere to escape doing the performance, you know?
LAUREN: I remember the first day that we walked into the theater and over the time of the rehearsals, Michael kept saying, “There’s nowhere to hide, there’s nowhere to hide” and we got there and I was like, “Oh my god, there really is nowhere to hide.” There’s literally nowhere to hide, there’s no backstage.
SKYLAR: Not to mention with the audience on stage.
LAUREN: It was really bizarre.
SKYLAR: Literally you can’t do anything, you can’t hide anything.
BB: Now for our listeners who haven’t seen the show, you do have the audience sitting in austere wooden chairs on the side of the stage.
ALL: Yes, yes, yes.
BB: And you actually sit in with them while you’re not acting. Has any audience member said anything inappropriate to you during the show?
BRIAN: Oh yes.
SKYLAR: Yes, all the time.
BRIAN: Actually it was last week I sat down to start the show and the guy next to me was like, “Hey, what’s going on?” and I was like, “Hey… what’s up?” and he said, like right before the lights came down he was like, “I have tourettes”.
LAUREN: Oh my god!
BRIAN: I was like, “What?! Alright, we’ll do the… okay.”
SKYLAR: “Touch me.”
LAUREN: That’s hilarious.
SKYLAR: That’s actually funny because often, especially at the Atlantic once, towards the end of our run, when people got really comfortable with the material and started returning time after time, they would generally sit on the stage and bring their friends and they would literally reach over us to tap their friends and say, “you have to see him!”
BRIAN: “See what I’m talking about, man? I totally knew this was going to happen.”
SKYLAR: “Yea man, didn’t I tell you? This guy, he can sing.”
LAUREN: Or like, I remember this one time there was this guy who wore a shirt that said “I’m With Farvis”
PHOEBE: Oh yea.
PHOEBE: “I’m With Farvis”
LAUREN: Was that what the shirt said? It said “I’m With Farvis” and there was an arrow pointing and there was like, one chair on the end of the stage right side.
PHOEBE: And I knew all the show, I knew the whole show that I was going to have to go and sit in that chair.
LAUREN: The whole time we’re watching this guy with the “I’m With Farvis” shirt with an arrow pointing and then she sits down in the chair, and it’s like.
SKYLAR: And now we call Phoebe, Farvis. Farvis Newmeyer.
BRIAN: Yea. To this day.
LAUREN: Random things like that would happen and, y’now it was always so funny.
BB: So how soon after the Atlantic run did you guys hear that the show was going to transfer to Broadway?
LAUREN: He knew during.
BRIAN: We knew that it was going, we just didn’t know where and when. The essential information we had no idea.
LAUREN: He told us, “You’re going to Broadway! But we have no idea when and we don’t know where.” And then probably three weeks after that, two weeks after that. They were like, “We have a place for you.”
BRIAN: A few weeks, because then they found out that Sweeny was closing.
SKYLAR: Yea, we saw that Sweeny was closing and like a week after that they got the official notice that we’re going to Eugene O’Neil.
SKYLAR: It was all very exciting. We had to get into… they were like, “You’re going to Broadway! But wait, you guys have to get into hair and mic-” it was really like, seven-thirty.
BRIAN: Yea. It was right before our show that night.
LAUREN: They told us right before one of our shows that we were going to Broadway.
BRIAN: That show was rockin’.
SKYLAR: Oh, that show was awesome.
BRIAN: They were like, they came after the first act and they were like, “Jesus! You guys are really giving it.”
LAUREN: We were like, “Yea, ‘cause were kind of excited.”
SKYLAR: We weren’t allowed to call. I snuck in a call to my mom, I had to give her a call.
LAUREN: I did too. I was like screaming on the phone.
SKYLAR: I was like, “Mom, I have to tell you something but I’ve got like two seconds. We’re going to Broadway, I’ll call you later.”
BRIAN: Gotta go!
SKYLAR: “Yea, but I have to like, curl my hair right now so later. Love you.”
PHOEBE: That was really funny.
BB: One thing I liked about the show is I think not only do you all have great voices, but I personally like the fact that everybody’s voices don’t sound like pretty much everybody on Broadway has sounded for the past ten years. I’m wondering… have all of you studied voice as well?
LAUREN: I think most of us have. I know probably everybody here has.
BRIAN: I’ve taken voice lessons, yea.
SKYLAR: Well, I mean Duncan really goes for that raw sound. He loves it and we love to do it but we also need to have stamina. We’ve got to do eight shows a week so I mean sometimes the training, some formal training really kicks into gear when you have the schedule we have. Two on Saturday, two on Sunday, one on Monday.
PHOEBE: It’s nice to think of us as, like they always say that, “You’re like rock stars in your garage” and that’s cool and all, but you really can’t maintain that sound unless you’re warm and you voice and you know what you’re doing. Otherwise you’re going to blow a chord out.
SKYLAR: Yea, we do these classical warm ups and then sing garage rock songs.
LAUREN: Well, I think that’s the reason that we’re all able to stay healthy as we are.
BB: All of your characters, during the acting scenes, you’re pretty much straight out of 1891 and then the songs switch over. Was that at all an odd concept to grab from an acting standpoint?
BRIAN: The way that Michael had described it to us from day one is just that they’re supposed to be two separate things. You’re supposed to be the character from 1891 during all the dialogue and when the music starts, basically you become yourself rocking out in your room. What you would do alone, y’now with a hair brush. What was it?
LAUREN: He said, “You can be, you can be anyone you want! You could be Damien Rice! You could be Judy at the Palace! He’s really funny. And I remember on one of the pieces of sheet music that I got, I think it was the sheet music that I got for the workshop. On the top of it was “Idols; Gwen Stefani Britney Spears” and I was like, “What is this?”
Oh yea, Gwen Stefani.
AS: Clearly Duncan didn’t write that.
LAUREN: I remember asking Kim, our musical director, “What is this?” and she was like, “Oh, I think this was written a long time ago back when we did the workshop, them saying idols you can emulate.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s funny. Britney Spears? Really? Be half naked shaking my tummy around?”
BRIAN: Yea. We don’t have to make anything up because we’re just being ourselves. That’s the great part about it. There’s nothing fake about it.
LAUREN: It’s really nice.
BRIAN: I think that’s what makes the performances so great.
SKYLAR: And it also kind of makes it like the 21st century version of your characters, which is what Michael told us is kind of the concept from the get-go is that once we pull out these microphones and start singing this contemporary alternative rock music we become these 21st century versions of our 19th century characters.
Geeky Question #3: Phoebe, where were you when you got the call that you were cast?
PHOEBE: Answer in Broadway Bullet Vol. 17
Geeky Question #4: Lauren, where are you originally from?
LAUREN: Jackson, Tennessee
BB: So have you had any of your friends come down and see the show yet?
SKYLAR: A bunch of them have come.
BB: What’s the feedback you’ve gotten from your friends?
SKYLAR: They’re always so crazy about it and that’s so awesome that it speaks to our generation as well as the older generations and really everyone. They say stuff like, “It’s the ‘RENT’ of the new generation”, but it’s totally different than ‘RENT’. I think, y’now we’d love to have their success but they definitely do things musically that we just have a completely different concept. But it’s revolutionary for our time, I think.
BRIAN: The great thing is that, I think, I mean they’re gearing it towards a younger generation. But I think everyone understands what’s going on on-stage because at some point in everyone’s life they’ve gone through this time of finding yourself. The adolescent years of noticing the opposite sex.
PHOEBE: Or the same sex.
BRIAN: Or the same sex as well, yes.
LAUREN: I just think that for Anna.
AS: For Phoebe.
LAUREN: For Anna, who is a flaming lesbian in the show, you’ll notice.
BRIAN: The character’s not flushed out yet.
LAUREN: I think, and you know I haven’t had many friends come to the show because I’m still making friends in NYC because I’m new here.
SKYLAR: Lauren has no friends.
LAUREN: All of my friends are in “Spring Awakening”.
SKYLAR: No one in the cast likes her. There’s a geeky question: No one likes who?
PHOEBE: We hate her, too.
LAUREN: So I think Brian’s right, everyone can relate to the show. And I saw something, there was a little ad on I think Broadway.com the other day that said something like, “Spring Awakening: For everyone who’s been sixteen once and didn’t know where to turn next”. I think everyone can relate to that because everyone’s been sixteen and even the older crowd that comes, they can understand because it kind of brings them back into that. Everyone seems to really relate, some people more to the music than the story.
BRIAN: And it just brings a whole new crowd, because there’s a lot of people who come to our show to check it out that aren’t the Normal Musical theater goers.
SKYLAR: Oh yea.
BRIAN: Y’now, these people are coming to see the rock music and I love that
SKYLAR: Or the play.
BRIAN: It’s a rock show with a story.
LAUREN: Well, I think it’s interesting that the Duncan Sheik fans that come to see the show who are like, “Oh, what is Duncan doing?” and then they come and they’re, “It’s really great”. They’re always really surprised and I think that’s really cool.
SKYLAR: Yea, one thing that a lot of my friends have said is that, or at least my friends that aren’t necessarily into theater… more specifically musical theater, they don’t understand why people break out into song, even my friends that are actors, like straight acting no musical theater, they have literally said, “I hate musicals, but this was awesome.” And that’s the best feeling because, literally, I’ve went to school with these kids and hearing how they used to respond to other stuff, “Yea, you were good, but I don’t get it.” But with this they just get it and they love it. And they get so many things, they get this great story, this great play and a rock concert in one night. It’s pretty special.
BB: Well, I know the kids in the show all range in age from about fifteen to about… who’s the oldest in the show?
BRIAN: Twenty three. Phoebe.
BB: Phoebe, right here. And who’s the youngest in this group here?
BB: And you are?
LAUREN: I’m eighteen
BB: So in this young group making their Broadway debut in New York City, who are the one’s taking care of themselves and going home at night and who’s going out and partying like a rock star?
LAUREN: We all are.
BRIAN: Every one of us takes really good care of ourselves.
LAUREN: I think people, because we’re so young, they expect us to go out to these raves every night. But seriously, we go home and go to bed because we have a very long day in the morning. We have five hours of rehearsal.
BRIAN: Especially now with previews.
LAUREN: And then three hours of a show every night. I mean, we cannot afford to be out, we just can’t do it.
AS: That was so funny, we were at a talkback at NYU the other day and Michael was quite literally talking about how at the Atlantic we used to take naps together so he used the term “they sleep together.” He’s like, “I’ve been going upstairs and” because we had a big communal dressing room, “we went to the dressing room and they were sleeping together.” And everyone was like, “Aw yea, sleeping together. Party!” And we’re like, “No, we were quite literally napping.” We were exhausted.
LAUREN: We were literally sleeping together because there was one small air mattress that everyone had to share.
AS: That’s funny that people want to believe that. Sorry if we’re sellouts, guys but we’re tired.
LAUREN: I think that, like opening night, we’ll throw a big celebration and we’ll get the day off afterwards.
PHOEBE: Everyone in their dressing room has their throat coat tea and their honey and their nasal spray.
PHOEBE: We’re very good about it.
LAUREN: We take care of ourselves.
PHOEBE: Because this means too much to us, this show.
BRIAN: Especially now, yea. It’s true
BB: Well, I thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedule getting ready to open and coming down, talking to our listeners at Broadway Bullet.
LAUREN: Of course.
BB: Definitely wish you the best of luck with the run of the show, and I hope all the listeners get down to see you guys.
ALL: Thank you.
### You can listen to this interview and many other great features for free on Broadway Bullet vol. 17. Subscribe for free so you don't miss an episode.