Photos by Brian Annis
Going to Emerson may seem like all style and glamor, but we all know the glitter and hipster grunge are just clever attempts to damage control all those sleepless nights of writing papers, mixing tracks and rehearsing monologues. But being a musical theater major does allow one to maintain just a little more of that practical magic associated with transporting audiences to another place. During our photoshoot with the three leads from the cast of Darling, A New Musical — a Retrop Productions and RareWorks Theatre Company production — Max Sangerman, Lauren Chapman and Chelsea Williams allowed us to see a little bit of the magic that takes place on the other side of the curtain.
Q: How is it working on the a developmental production like this?
MS: It’s my first experience with such a new piece of musical theater. As an actor, one of the first steps is memorizing. In a production like this, changes happen on an everyday basis. But it makes it exciting. The script keeps changing on us and we have to keep rolling with the punches. It’s what a professional production is like.
Q: What has been your favorite part of working on this project so far?
MS: The integration of my rock sound in my voice. At home I’m in a rock-funk band. I sing, I play trumpet, and it’s a good chance to let my voice loose because I’m used to singing rigid conventional theater pieces. I feel like Freddie Mercury when I sing in Darling.
Q: What was it like, getting to know everyone involved in Darling?
LC: A number of us knew each other already. I’ve been in class with a lot of the actors and we’re all very good friends outside of Darling as well. Max is one of my bet friends so it’s great to come to rehearsal and spend time with people I enjoy. I feel very lucky to work with such talented, hardworking people.
Q: Can you tell us a little more about your character in the play?
LC: I play Ursula Morgan, a teenager from an upper class Massachusetts family. At the time we meet her, she is unfortunately very sick of her life; she’s kind of a loner and she thinks that her family feels she’s a nuisance to them, so she’s kind of looking to escape when Peter comes into the picture and gives her this opportunity to do so. But it turns out that it’s not just a one night affair. She kind of decides to lead this life, but after a while it becomes too much for her and we see her fall apart throughout the show. She realizes that, as she grows up through this experience, Peter is staying the same. She’s the girl next door and she wants more.
Q: What did it feel like to portray this character?
LC: While rehearsing, Michael Bello and I spent one hour on Ursula’s break-down moments in the show. She’s in a lot of pain, she’s going through hell, and I, as Lauren, couldn’t connect with that. So we stood up and did jumping jacks, and squats and Michael did it with me in a conference room. There was a method to the madness — she’s so exhausted that in that moment feeling it physically helped me get into it and helped me really track her journey. And it was fun for Michael to join so I didn’t look silly alone.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory from the show?
LC: One time Max came on stage and handed me a piece of paper. And I was just like, what is this? And it was this drawing that looked like a map of London but really it was a map of what was on stage with stick figures and arrows and all of this stuff.
Q: If you could take someone into the rehearsal room, what’s an aspect of putting on a production like this that you’d want to show them?
CW: The experimentation and the playing around with other people. It’s why I’m an actor, I so enjoy the rehearsal process and giving ideas. When I see a production, I always wonder about all the choices that didn’t make it into the show.
Q: What has been your favorite part of Darling?
CW: The first time we got to sing throughout the whole completed score. The sound is remarkable, fresh and chill inducing. But also, being in a production with Mike Bello. He’s one of my best friends and we’ve been in classes and shows together before, but when he gives me direction now, I’m so proud of him.