Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again …Entertainment News Thursday, May 26th, 2011
For cast member Stephanie Barnum, singing is her love
The smash musical Mamma Mia! has been playing to packed houses all over the world. Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ show based on the songs of ABBA has played to more than 45 million people. Now Broadway/San Diego is presenting the show May 31 through June 5 at the Civic Theatre.
The San Diego LGBT Weekly had the chance to chat with cast member and singing star Stephanie Barnum recently to talk about the show.
LGBT Weekly: How did a little girl like you from a small town like Benicia, California get to big bad New York and get into a Broadway show?
Stephanie Barnum: I did theater ever since I was a little girl. I did Annie when I was 8, and that was the first show I did in Benicia. I did shows my whole life in community theater. I eventually went to New York University and studied musical theater. I graduated and got a tour in Evita right off the bat! I did quite a few regional gigs, and then I got Mamma Mia!
When you were at NYU, did you learn singing and dancing as well as acting?
Yes. My focus was voice, singing and acting. I got a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance. That was my actual major. That is my forte, although I can act and dance, too. Singing is my love.
Is there a lot of competition in New York when you audition?
Oh my gosh, yes! You have to keep on pounding the pavement. You go to as many auditions as you can. It’s a numbers game. It’s pretty much luck, but it’s hard work, also.
Have you developed a thick skin against rejection?
Ha! Yes, I think so. You know, after you start to realize it’s not personal when you don’t book a job, it’s just a business. You learn that quickly.
It’s hard not to take it personally because it’s your talent on the line. It’s all about what they are looking for and how you match up against the other people they are casting. There are so many aspects that go into it.
Have you ever felt resentment at not getting a part when you were perfect for it, and better than, the woman who was cast?
Oh, man. That’s a difficult question! Sometimes, if you don’t get a part, it is hard to go see the actual show. You want to forget it happened and move on. You can’t hold a grudge or you’ll drive yourself crazy. It’s hard to do, but that’s what you have to do.
Isn’t it frightening to go onto a new stage every week and adjust your blocking and movements?
Before the show, we have a cast meeting with the stage manager who will explain to us all the cuts and changes needed for that venue. Some set pieces will be cut, and that alone keeps it new and exciting every week. I’m so used to it now that it doesn’t faze me. You learn to go with the flow on tour. We’re professionals and that‘s our job!
Was your mom a stage mother or was she normal?
No, she was normal! She was a dancer when she was younger but didn’t want to become a professional. She went to Stanford and met my dad. I was the first born, but I think she wanted to put me into all sorts of activities. I did singing, I did dance, so honed what I was really good at as a girl. It makes you think about what you want to pursue.
Because you’re a singer, do you ever get to watch the kids on Glee, and what do you think of them?
It’s a great show and I love it. I love the Lea Michelle character and love all the stuff she does. I love Corey Monteith among the boys and also Chord Overstreet. The casting is so great on that show.
You are so young to have such success in big shows!
Yeah! I’m 25 and will be 26 in August.
Are most of the cast members all young and your age?
Yes, everyone is pretty young! We had a break in the tour and they kind of revamped the show. Many of the people from the first tour were more seasoned actors. The new cast on this tour is younger, fresher and recently graduated from college. I will be playing Sophie in San Diego on Thursday and Friday nights.
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