EF - Now, you have been in many roles. You have been in Grease,
Miss Saigon, City of Angels. Do you have a favorite?
CN - All for different reasons. City of Angels... I enjoyed
the show. I adored the show. I'm sorry the show is not commercially
more successful. It is witty, funny, sharp. The music is just
hysterical. That was my first production contract and it was great.
Saigon touched a lot of people. It is a memory that is still
close. I marinated on that tour for almost two years. I knew if
I came back I wouldn't necessarily get something better. I wasn't
going to go back to the chorus. I didn't want to. I was marinating.
I was living. I was aging. I was experiencing. Those are the kind
of things people want to see when you come in for an audition. You
feel like you have some life experiences.
Grease was hysterically
wonderful, and fun and silly and crazy. I did it between two
different versions of Jekyll and Hyde. I adored it. You get to
wail your guts out. It was gloriously fun, silly, and light.
I know a lot of people think its awful. It is not brain surgery.
It is fun. You don't leave thinking you have been cheated. You
leave feeling you had a good time. I liked being a part of that.
Jekyll has brought me to Broadway in a vehicle written by
Frank (Wildhorn). I've always enjoyed his music. To actually
work with him and have him be a part of my life is very important.
It is a real blessing.
EF - Did you ever have a part that was really demanding, really
stretched your ability?
CN - I did South Pacific. I was Nellie Forbush. I did it
with Christopher Renshaw and Brian Thompson, the same producers
for The King and I. It was an Australian production. The range
of emotions she goes through is extraordinary. She used to be
manic at one point and at by the end of it is a sniveling shell
of a human being. Because of her selfishness, she had destroyed
another person's life. It is a very demanding part. That was great.
We are doing a concert version of Chess in December. I always
wanted to do Florence. That is going to be a hoot. I get to
scream my guts out. That is what so funny about this Jekyll and
Hyde. People think of me as a soprano and how I sing like a
bird. I thank them but anyone that has known me before this
show says it is great you are singing all this high stuff but
you are a middle, meaty thing. I've never been thought of as
a soprano, ever.
EF - How did the opportunity for Jekyll and Hyde come up?
CN - Through an agent. I went in for some auditions and
I didn't hear anything. I went and did a little show in Alabama.
While in rehearsal, I learned they wanted to see me. I said
I couldn't at the time. After this show in Alabama opened, I
got another call. I had to fly to Atlanta at 7:00 am for an
11:00 am audition and then get to the airport at 1:30 PM to
return to Alabama. They faxed me "Once upon a Dream" the night
before and I'm learning it and trying to memorize it on the
plane. When I get there, I took a peek at the list and knew
every name that was auditioning for this part. Not personally,
but knew them by name and I'm thinking who is this little
person (me) at the bottom of the list? I went in and sang it
in a couple of different keys. They more or less just said
thank you. I'm thinking, look what I went through to get
here. I even waited outside to see if I would get called
back - nothing!
I called my agent when I got to the airport
and said why did you make me do this, this was a waste of my
time. She responded with they want to see you this afternoon.
Finally, in September, I got another call for Jekyll and Hyde.
I'm like, fine, now what? They want to fly me to LA because
they are finishing up the album. Jason Howland, our musical
director and conductor, took me out to Frank Wildhorn and Linda
Eder's house in the hills. I was taught the entire show. I
went into the studio and met the entire music team, Frank's little
family. Linda came in and I met her. I sang with Jeremy
Roberts at the piano and Frank pacing back and forth with
his baseball cap on, his dark glasses sort of doing his
intimidating thing and asking me to do various things. I'm
trying to be very earnest and still having no idea of what is
I flew back home the next day, on my birthday.
My agent had called and said there was an offer. Frank
called my house later and just said Happy Birthday, welcome
to the family. I was in my parent's living room talking
to Frank all the time jumping out of my skin pointing to the
phone, whispering to my parents that it's Frank Wildhorn and
that I got the part. Of course, all the time trying to be
professional on the phone. That was in the fall of 1994. I've
been doing it ever since. We went into regional production
which was in Houston and Seattle. I took a few months
off and did South Pacific. We then started a 9 month tour.
I went to China for fun and did Grease and then we started
again this past January.
EF - How has the show changed over the years?
CN - This version versus the other two I was involved in was
done by a different director. It was a different concept, a
EF - Do you think this version is better than the others, or just
CN - Different. There are things people do like more and there
are things people miss. Change is hard especially with such a
big fan base who felt they were part of the process, part of the
birthing of the work. They have their favorites. It becomes
difficult from their perspective to embrace something else. People
have very strong opinions. Look at the whole Norma Desmond thing
in Sunset Boulevard. You look at the wonderful women who got
to play that part. Everyone is going to have their favorite for
EF - Some say Jekyll and Hyde is a non traditional musical in
that the songs are very concert like and contemporary. What
is your view on that?
CN -I think this director (for the critics benefit) tried to make
it more of a story. If you go back and read the novella,
"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" there is not
a lot there. It's 79 pages. It's not a 1,000 page Les Mis.
It is a journal and there is not a lot going on in the first place.
Frank's music is the unifying force in this piece. That is
the reason people became passionate about it in the first place
and the reason people continue to come back. It's that passion
that Frank would call "blood on the microphone". Those people
that don't have any preconceived feelings of the show are the
people that have been enjoying it and come back over and over again.
EF - Who is Emma Carew?
CN - She is Jekyll's (depending on the mood Christiane Noll is in)
sassy, beautiful, patient, understanding fiancee, impetuous at
times. When they were writing Lucy and the Emma characters they
tried to fuzz the line between them. Emma wasn't all sweet,
pure, pristine good girl and Lucy wasn't just the hooker with
the heart of gold. She had some elegance about her. Emma had
more hutspah than the average Victorian girl. She tells people
off and yells at Hyde.
EF - How would you compare and contrast yourself to her?
CN - There is certainly a lot of me in her. I try to draw
from myself. I haven't gotten to the point and am not the
kind of person who leaves myself in the wings and just becomes
this person. I'm drawing from my own experience. That makes
it more real for me. Emma is very much like me. I don't think
I would have been as forgiving as she. I'm not nearly as
patient as she is.
EF - In all aspects, even in rehearsals?
CN - Yes, I'm very quick . I have a brain like a steel trap.
If you tell me something I will remember it. I will be very
sensitive to do whatever it is you want me to do. I've gotten
so much better. When I was younger, I got in so much trouble
because I expected everyone else to have the same work ethic as
I do. I could be a nuisance. When you come into this business
you can be naive. For whatever reason, people don't work the same
way. It may take some people longer to catch on. I didn't get
popular. I'm very demanding of myself. I have gotten a lot more
forgiving about those around me. I realize that it is their
job too and everyone has a different process. What I have
learned is that if it is not directly involving me then it is
none of my business and I'm not going to worry about it.
EF - Do you feel your performance has been eclipsed by Linda Eder and
CN - I won't say eclipsed, not my performance. I will honestly
say the notice of my performance has been overshadowed. I can't
say eclipsed because people come to see the show and see what
I do. Very few people have wanted to write about how Christiane
Noll is not getting what she deserves or how she is a real find
and can't wait to see the next thing she does. I'm being honest.
That has been a difficult part of the journey. The piece has not been
conceived, focused or mounted about me. That is okay. I still
have been given a job and a wonderful part that I have
to do every night. Sure, I wish everyone would come and say
wow at me. It is perception. Sometimes I do feel like I'm lost.
I appreciate people support though and enjoy talking with fans.
EF - What is the relationship like between you, Linda, and Bob?
CN - We are close, we laugh around. The three of us have shared
a lot. We have seen each other at our best and worst. You
definitely bond as a result of that. There is definitely support
for each other and with Rob Evan too. The average age of the
performer in this company is older. It's more about coming to
do a job, saying hi how are you. We do get along very
well. We may go bowling for the bowling league, then we go home.
As opposed to being on the road where you live , breath, eat,
sleep, work with the same people. It is more intimate. You
are with them all the time.
EF - Does a good show depend on unity among the cast?
CN - Hmmm... Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. You don't have to
be in love with your leading man. You can find an element about
him that you love. If you are dealing with professionals then
you are dealing with people who are committed to what they do
and try not to make it personal. If someone delivers a line
that is personally attacking me, that is OK if it causes an
appropriate response. As long as I don't leave the stage and
go back to his dressing room and yell. You have to have a
balance. It is like a marriage. Some days it is wonderful
and somedays it is not, for whatever reason.
EF - You mentioned before that you have the Jekkies - What do
you think it is about this show that attracts this core group
CN - What is really interesting is that there is a core group.
The repeater fans who have joined since opening on Broadway,
who are waiting by the stage door, are not necessarily those
familiar faces that we have known since 1990. It has grown.
This show has fans. If they get fanatical in that they see
it 20, 50 times, Lord love them. I think we have wonderful
people who are involved that take time to talk to them. Passion
drove this piece from its creation to putting it into production.
When you encounter audience members who are as passionate about
the piece as you are, we take the time to talk to them. They
feel like they are part of the process. We know people by name.
This woman, Linda, has seen every show that Rob Evan has done.
There is a new young girl who came to the flea market and
spent everything she had on Jekyll and Hyde stuff. She has
seen the show 10-12 times which is nothing compared to some
of the regulars. She comes every week now.
EF - We talked a bit before about people who support the show
and wait outside. Let me read something that I found interesting.
Someone said "actors strive to become good in their art and
become famous at the same time - with fame comes a price."
Obviously, you get recognized. People want autographs, want
to talk with you. Do you mind that?
CN - Most of the time, no. If someone wants to talk with me,
I'll talk with them. If I am having a bad day sometimes it is
harder to do that and be open and friendly. I'm a real person.
It is part of the show as well. It is their opportunity, in
addition to their applause, to show their appreciation. They
want to be acknowledged like I want to be acknowledged for
what I do. I think I owe it to people who want to talk to me to
EF - That brings up this question, Is there any obligation an
actor has beyond the show to fans?
CN - No. As long as you come to talk to me at the stage door,
as far as I'm concerned, still falls within the realm of the
show. They have paid for the tickets, seen the show, waited
outside to say hello, beyond that, no. If you come up to me on
the street and compliment me on the show, I will certainly
respond and say thank you. As far as obligation, no. It has to
do because I want to. If a fan thinks they deserve something
from someone they admire, he/she needs to reassess why it is
that they appreciate the performance.
EF - How long will you be in Jekyll and Hyde?
CN - Right now I have a contract until the end of April. I
believe Bob, Linda, and I all signed up for the same time period.
EF - Have you thought about after that?
CN - If I do this album, I will probably stay a little bit
if they will have me. I certainly am wanting to do something else.
EF - Jekyll and Hyde is supposed to go on tour, right?
CN - Yes. I'm not doing that though.
EF - What do you like to do in your spare time?
CN - I have my acting class. I try to go wall climbing once
a week. I do the bowling league. I'm very busy. I get a
massage every week. I also go to the chiropractor three times
a week. Of course, I do demo sessions. I will be going in
next week to finish The King and I which was wonderful.
EF - When I told people I was going to interview you, there
was much positive response in how well you act, how beautiful
your voice is and how you are wonderful in your role... This is
your opportunity to relay any messages you have to your fans.
CN - Oh, wow. Thank you so much for your kind words and support.
To know that I am able to share something that I am passionate
about with people and know they are touched by it means I have
done my job and more. It means a lot when someone comes up
to me and says they know it is about Bob and Linda but I really
like what you did . That means a lot. People are starting
to notice. Not everybody does. That is exciting.
EF - It is exciting about the album because people were
asking about that.
CN - I will be recording again in January or try to. It should
be out by April or May, ideally. It will be some time this year.
EF - One last question, any advice to people who want to go
CN - Do it because you have to. You should love and be
passionate about it. Don't do it just because you can. Do
it because it is who you are. You will be committed and you
will have an inner confidence necessary. Worry about what
you do and not about what everyone else is doing. That is also
true for people who are already acting. It is a hard lesson
to learn. Do it because it is fun and it gives you joy.
Thoughts and Reflections...