Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Natalie Toro Interview

Natalie Toro, the brilliant co-star of In the Heights recently played Broadway in A Tale of Two Cities and has also played Les Mis and A Christmas Carol in New York. She has a mile-long list of credits in tours of shows such as Evita, Jesus Chrsit Superstar, West Side Story and Cats. She's equally at home on the theatrical stage, at Carnegie Hall and in the recording studio, having released several solo CDs - her latest entitled simply Natalie Toro. In our interview, she discusses her role in Heights, her new cabaret show - which will premiere in LA at the Magic Castle on July 12 - and other roles and theatrical passions.

Compare your role in In the Heights to other shows you've done. Is it challenging? If so, how?

This is the first time I am playing a "Mom". Not having any children myself, I had to pull from my mom. She is a strong, vibrant and take no bullshit, kind of woman. She raised my brother and I all alone. She had the resilience that I can only dream of having if I had a child. She put me through college. That was huge since I was the only one in my family to go and finish and get a degree. I couldn't imagine for a second, after all the hard work and sacrifice she had to endure, coming home and telling her I flunked or quit college. With Camila, my character in In The Heights, she is strong. But she is a different kind of strong. You see, they have a family unit, and they have had to learn to work together to even have a successful business. She is not the stay at home and cook and clean mom. But the one that would work all day at her own business, then come home and cook and clean. Pretty much they work together, and when they don't, she feels betrayed.
I only felt it challenging in the beginning because I wasn't sure how to play a mom. But now, it's a comfort zone which also comes with playing a role for 9 months now.

What is the favorite show you've done to date? Why?

That is a hard one. All the shows I've done are pretty much epic musicals with sweeping scores and vocal challenges. But I have to say, that my favorite two, can I have two? My favorite two are Les Miserables and A Tale of Two Cities. I performed both of these on Broadway and had two of my favorite roles. In Les Miz, I played Eponine. And in Tale, I played Madame Defarge. I'd say two roles on the opposite side of the spectrum. One a waif, who wears her heart on her sleeve and the other, an evil, vengeful woman who would kill your kid if she thought she had a reason. LOL

Your Evita was sensational. What is your opinion of this show vocally? Patti Lupone has said it ruined her voice doing it 6/8 times a week.

Thank you. So glad that you were able to see it. I LOVED playing her!
I don't know what Sir Andrew Webber was on when he wrote that score! LOL It goes from the bottom of any female range to the highest belt one could imagine all in a couple of measures. And Evita is only off stage like 15 minutes throughout the show.
In my contract, I was slated to do it only five times a week and that was grueling. I had NO life on the road. I stayed in my hotel room most days not talking to anyone until the show. But again, it's hard in the beginning, then your body gets used to the material and it gets easier as long as you have good vocal technique.

Who is your favorite composer?

I studied at The Manhattan School of Music and was trained with classical music. I LOVE Chopin and Rachmaninoff. But Leonard Bernstein and Sondheim are my favorites.

What is your favorite musical of all time?

West Side Story!

What role do you really want to play that you haven't so far?

Well, that's a little thorn on my side. I've always wanted to play Elphaba in Wicked. Think it will ever happen? (She laughs, knowing full well she is past the age to play that character.)

Tell me about your cabaret show.

I am very excited about debuting my new show The Broken Road here in LA. I've spent most of my career doing Broadway National Tours that it was a no brainer to write about it and sing about it. People don't REALLY know what goes on with people like me who live out of a suitcase to pursue your dream and to play your dream roles. It's not glamorous. But you learn different things about yourself and people and places that you might not ever get to experience. I want to share that with the public. Not to mention that it's funny as hell too!

Catch The Broken Road at The Inner Circle of The Magic Castle in Hollywood on Monday July 12 only! Also, see Natalie Toro in In the Heights at the Pantages through July 25 only.
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