Spotlight On
Terry Richmond

by Nancy Rosati

NR: What's the best part of your job and the worst part?

TR: The best part is just the blessing of having my dream come true every night. I'm still really in touch with that. The worst part is doing it every night.

NR: How do you keep that fresh, especially being in an ensemble? You know, you're marching out as a soldier. There's not a whole huge character you can latch onto.

TR: There's fresh and there's fresh. Because I'm ensemble, it's not about keeping the truth in the lines as much as staying energized and focused on stage. So there's a lot more room in that. I think for the people that are the leads, I think it's much harder because even though they have more to do, they really have to stay honest in the moments they've been given. I have a lot more room. If I'm focused and there, and I'm energized, then I'm doing my job. Sometimes it's just not fresh. Sometimes I think, "Well it's about integrity and this audience deserves a good show." Sometimes you want to put your crap aside and just focus on the show. A lot of times, there's something new. Even after 500 performances, there's something new. Bryan Batt just started. That's something interesting that you latch onto. Maybe it's the day you walked out and your wig fell off, and the laugh you had about that keeps the whole show funny. You'd be amazed at the little stuff that get us through a night because it just shifts our energy into a place where we'll feel silly, and if we feel silly, we're having a good show. Not that we're being inappropriate or unprofessional on stage, but we're energized and we're having fun and we're sharing the experience. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes you come in and your mind is frazzled and it's hard to put it away, but I feel really strongly that that's what I'm getting paid to do. That's what this audience deserves. I remember seeing my first Broadway show. I meet people outside and they say, "This is the first Broadway show I ever saw." And I think, "Would it have been fair to have not shown up and been 100% here?"

NR: What about all those costume changes? And the wig changes?

TR: They're fine. Sometimes I hate my wigs. I don't hate the wigs, but sometimes your head gets itchy.

NR: How many wigs do you have?

Scarlet Pimpernel
TR: I think eight. The "Stay Puft Marshmallow." I have names for them. There's the "Empress of the Smurfs." That's my tart wig that I used for my solo. The "Stay Puft Marshmallow" wig, also known as the "Brillo-head." The "Twice-baked Potato" for the opening "Storybook" number. And "Tweenie" is my favorite character, the tweenie maid. I think I change my clothes ten or eleven times a night, but that's just part of the deal and it's not too bad. The corset doesn't even bother me that much. It's not that tight, unless I eat too much. It's part of the deal and it's fine.

NR: Do you have a lot of offstage time that you're not changing costumes?

TR: Not a lot. Our break is like a 20 minute break towards the end of Act 1, between the drawing room and "The Riddle," which we sing off stage. That's the only real substantial break. There's a little break between the wedding and "The Rescue."

NR: So, it's not like you're killing a lot of time backstage?

TR: No. We spend almost all of intermission getting into the new wigs, getting into the big dresses. I think it's good. If there were a lot of chunks of small amounts of time, enough that it doesn't go fast, but too little that you can't do anything ... We have one chunk where we can read or do what we want to do. It's fine. It goes very fast. The second act goes very fast because I'm almost never in the dressing room.

NR: How hard was the transition between the two shows?

TR: Remember when I said buying a house was like being skinned alive? It was very difficult. There was a lot of emotional attachment. As flawed as we knew the show was originally, and as disappointed in some ways as we were with some of the stuff we did on stage, we were still very attached to our parts. I should speak for just myself, but I know others feel the same way. It was physically hard because the rehearsals were very strict, which was great. We got a lot done. I think we were a company with a lot of integrity but we never worked in any kind of strict way at all. We had a lot of fun together. We had a very loose rehearsal atmosphere the first time, so to all of a sudden arrive at boot camp was very jarring for us and it was a real transition. It was physically exhausting because the rehearsals were so focused, so intense, so hard, and then we had to do the show at night. It was just hard, and as happy as we all were that the show was getting new life, it was very draining. There was a lot of what we felt were misrepresentations about what was to be expected and what actually happened. There was a lot to be negotiated with the union. There was a lot of trouble with getting things straight because this has never happened before.

What I loved about Bobby (Longbottom) and the rehearsals was that he's very clear and he knew exactly what he wanted. He was incredibly prepared. He had two wonderful assistants, so as much as the work was hard, it was good to know what was expected of me and to try to make myself do it. There was a lot more freedom the first time around, and it was sometimes scary, especially not having been on Broadway before, to feel a little like, "I don't know if what I'm doing is OK." I assumed if I didn't hear otherwise, what I was doing was fine, but I didn't know for sure what was expected of me. Now I know exactly what is expected of me in every moment of the show, which as an artist, can be a little stifling, but there it is. You're in the ensemble, and you're in a really big musical and in the long run, after doing a show for a year, it becomes a lot more of a job anyway, and it's just as well to know what your job is and to do it. It was mostly physically and emotionally exhausting.

NR: What are some of your favorite memories of the past year and a half?

TR: (laughing) When Douglas (Sills) fell flat on his face. It was during the seacoast scene at the end. It was unbelievable. We were offstage and didn't know what was going on. The audience laughed so hard and long. He and Terry (Mann) couldn't recover, and of course David Cromwell, who never breaks, was trying to get the scene going. He was playing the Fisherman at the time and was saying, "So, are you telling me you've found the Pimpernel?" and Terry and Doug would have no part of it. They just kept laughing and the audience was laughing while Cromwell tried to get them back.

NR: What was Christine (Andreas) doing?

TR: Probably laughing too. I think my favorite time on stage was the first time Douglas truly got Terry Mann to laugh in the ball. We just lost it. And, the first time Douglas did the limerick, "There once was a man from Nantucket ... " He really surprised us with that.

NR: What about October 1st (the end of the first show?)

TR: You know what, we were so in the middle of such an ordeal. That was a hard night. We lost fourteen cast members that night. That was hard. We were saying good-bye to a lot of people we really loved, and were not really sure where we were going at that point. Opening night (the second one) was incredible. New Years Eve, both years in that theater with these people. We had an incredible Christmas party the first time around. We put together the "Out of Retirement Orchestra." Tim Shew put it together. I got out my trombone. All of us got out the instruments we played in high school and we tried to play Christmas Carols in the lobby. They had thrown us this party. Tim and I were on trombone. Bill Bowers and Ron Sharpe were on trumpet. Michael Growler was playing the violin and R. F. Daley was on the bongos. It was extraordinary. That was a very, very funny time. I really love so many people in the show so there have been a lot of those kinds of things.

NR: Do you have any dream roles that you'd love to play?

TR: Hmmm, that's such a good question. I got to do Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar. (laughing) Unfortunately, it was in the Catskills, which is not the best place for Jesus Christ Superstar. But it was a dream to get to do it. Pretty much anything Bernadette Peters has ever done, I would like to do. I'd love to do Sunday in the Park. I'd kind of like to do anything Sondheim. I don't have one thing I'm dying to do. My show's really fulfilling for me because I get to really be expressive and I do a whole lot of different stuff. I don't have one role that I'm burning to play. I'm just burning to work, to keep working. I would love to move into a role now, but right now the show's doing other things for me in my life.

NR: What about your yoga class that you teach?

TR: Tuesdays and Fridays. It's really the cast, crew and orchestra. Actually, I get a lot of wardrobe people. The cast members are like me, they want to but they can't make the time. Because I teach I have to show up, so I'm always there. That just evolved because they knew I was a yoga teacher and they came to me and asked me about yoga. I'd give them information about the center where I teach, or try to talk to them about what they could do, but they wanted something here so it would be more convenient. So, I said, "OK, if people are really going to come." We do it in the lobby which is a perfectly great space. At 6:30, it's still pretty quiet there. It's mostly because people asked. I also worked with Christine privately for most of the year that we were together. She and I did private yoga classes, either in her dressing room or in the lobby. I did a little work with Douglas, but it's a scheduling issue. It's great. I love teaching and it really grounds me. There's plenty of days I'm glad that I have to get there because teaching is more grounding than taking a class. I'm forced to get focused and become peaceful, because otherwise, what am I giving my students? If you bring that weird energy into class as a teacher, your students are going to feel it and that's really a disservice to the whole philosophy of yoga.

NR: Well, other than yoga, and putting your house together, is there anything else that you have time to do, or you enjoy?

TR: I wish I had a lot more time for my husband, but I wish he had a lot more time for me too. You know what I just realized that I like least about the show? It's that we work six days a week. I've been doing it for a year and a half and I've had one week off. You never get a three day weekend. You never get a two day weekend. I was a waitress for a long time and when I needed four or five days, or a week off, I would take it. I would switch out my shifts and not even lose money. I wish I had more time for my family and my friends and my new nephew. I love to swim. I was doing that for awhile, but since the house came up I haven't been. I would love to do more solo cabaret work. I've done concerts in Florida and Massachusetts and Vermont. I would go home again. I haven't been home to do a concert in awhile. I'd love to do that. I really want to learn to play guitar. I'd like to swim more, learn to play guitar, and meditate regularly, which I don't. Cook more. I'm a vegetarian so I like to cook, but I don't cook at home. Basically, there's a million things I'd like to do. Take long baths.

NR: What's ahead for the future?

TR: Well, this is how it is right now. I spent many years working on my career, (laughing) to no avail for the most part. When I finally got this show it's given me an opportunity to say, "I'm going to focus on my life for a little bit." What I need to do is let go a little in my career, trust it's going to be OK. Not that I haven't been working on it, not that I haven't been trying to get an agent (and I still don't have one), but I just got married and I wanted to do things that were going to make my life more what I wanted and those include getting out of debt and buying a house, which we're doing, and certainly I want to have a family. If Pimpernel reopens and I'm asked to be a part of it, there's a part of me that would definitely want to do that because it would allow me a lot of things I'm trying to do in my life right now. At the same time, if the next project comes along, I would jump on it. I'm kind of open right now. I can't just take any project for fulfillment creatively because I simply can't afford it. I'm not unhappy being in the ensemble and I know I'm going to do my solo show again, so I could stay with Pimpernel another year or two if I could. I'm not going to leave for anything less than another production contract right now. I'm not going to leave town. I'm not going to leave my husband and my new house. I have no desire to go on tour right now. I'm a grownup now and I really want to have my life here. I don't know what's next, but I'm not against staying in Pimpernel for awhile. I'm not dying to get out. I'm dying to just put everything together and see how it fits, and right now doing the show is working really well with the rest of the things I'm doing.

NR: That's great. Thank you so much.

TR: You're welcome.

As Terry said, her life is just beginning. She and her husband have just bought a house. She's doing a show that she enjoys with a company she loves. She'll be performing her cabaret show in the near future and things are looking up. Her warmth and enthusiasm make her a joy to be around and have no doubt played an important part in getting her through the rougher times. I hope the future holds wonderful things for Terry, as she deserves nothing less.

Also visit The Official Terry Richmond web page for more about Terry.