A Chat with Pippin’s Leading Player-Sasha Allen

Two nights before we chatted, Sasha Allen was burning up The National Theatre Stage and doing some fancy moves on a high-hanging trapeze while wowing the crowd as the Leading Player in the Tony Award-winning revival of Pippin, which has made DC its home through January 4th.

Sasha Allen (Leading Player). Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Sasha Allen (Leading Player). Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Joel: How are you doing? You were terrific on opening night! Lots of magic on the stage and in your performance.

Sasha: Thanks so much!

When did you first get the call to audition for The Leading Player for Pippin and how long was the process before they made you the offer?

My manager told me to go watch it and see if I would be interested in the role. And I watched it and I felt I couldn’t do the trapeze and all that dancing, but they really worked with me. It took about two months. It was a long time. And here I am!

Are you still scared when you are up there on the trapeze?

No. I love it! Now it’s so much fun!

Too bad they can’t put a net down there.

I guess it would ruin the ‘look.’

Instead of talking about The Voice-let’s talk about your voice. How would you describe your voice? It’s so gorgeous.

Thank you. I would describe it as powerful, passionate, and sultry.

How about ‘velvety’?

Yes. That’s perfect.

How much fun are you having up here? 

I’m actually really enjoying it. With the stage here in The National being smaller I can actually see the energy on the stage more. And I can see the audience more – so it inspires me to give even more to them.

Have you ever performed here before?

Yes. I was in the cast of Whistle Down the Wind here 2o years ago. [1996]. I played one of the children.

I remember it quite well. I was here on opening night  I know it never made it to NYC from DC, [Lloyd Rose’s review in The Washington Post didn’t help] but it had an almost 3 year run in The West End.

What was your fondest memory of appearing in that production?

I was a freshman in High School and I was away from home, and my Mom would come here some times and I had different family members here making sure that I was OK. It was so amazing! The theatre appeared so much bigger to me then.

Maybe the new color of paint makes it feel smaller.

You think that”s what it is?

I was just kidding!

I know there isn’t a lot of space in the back of the stage so how is that affecting the backstage crew and you and the cast?

We had to change our backstage track because there wasn’t a lot of room to get by.

So how many times have you been bumped into people or things?

Not many times. I just have to get used to the space.

How do they get all the trapeze stuff up there?

I really don’t know. I am just grateful when they check it to make sure it all works properly before I get up there.

Where were you born?

I was born and raised in New York, and I still live there.

Did you ever appear in a production of Pippin when you were in high school?

No. We did A Chorus Line. 

I remember my high school doing it too. Everyone was doing it. Today everyone is doing Legally Blonde, Rent, and Hairspray.

What have you learned from John Rubinstein and Kyle Dean Massey who have been in the show before you joined the Pippin team?

I have been inspired by the stories John has told me about when he was playing Pippin in the original Broadway production.

I was so glad to see Kyle here on the road after playing the role of Pippin in NYC. 

He is so sweet and accommodating  I know it’s hard to work with new people who have come into the show, but Kyle has been great.

Well he knows the part well, and that really helps.

Absolutely.

Lucie Arnaz (Berthe). Photo by Terry Shapiro.

Lucie Arnaz (Berthe). Photo by Terry Shapiro.

I have always said that Lucie Arnaz is the most underrated performer around. It must be tough for her to always hear about her Mom and Dad all the time. 

I totally understand. It’s just natural that you want to ask her about her patents. And I am sure it must be hard for her. But she brings the experience she learned from both her parents to the show. She is great in the show.

Let’s talk about DC audiences. Are you seeing something different with these audiences than what you have seen elsewhere?

They have lots of energy and they listen carefully.

Is there another character in the show – that you are not playing -who is most like you?

I can relate to Catherine who is a parent with a young child. There is so much depth to this character.

So if  you could play any role in the show (where gender didn’t matter) who would you want to play?

Catherine. I really ‘get her.’ When you have a child you want everything to be right, and she has so much patience with Pippin. I can relate to that.

Where is the show going next? What’s been the most fun traveling so far?

We are going to Hartford, Connecticut. It’s nice to get a chance to see new cities. I am looking forward to playing in Chicago.

What I admired the most watching  you opening night is that you have the ‘Wow!’ factor. And there was so much chemistry on the stage between you and the rest of the cast. You sparkle on the stage.

Thanks so much! There’s a lot of spontaneity on that stage.

There’s a lot of dancing going on. Did you have a lot of dance training?

Not really. I had some dance training but not the kind of dancing you see on the stage.

So how are you keeping in shape and keeping your energy up for this strenuous role?

Trust me-the show keeps me in shape!

What about ‘the voice’? What are you doing to rest it?

By the end of the week it’s a little sore, so I just let my body rejuvenate itself.

You tried the honey, lemon, and tea combo?

I have tried it all.

The nicest thing about having  you in the show is that kids who saw you on The Voice will come and see you in the show, and you are introducing them to the theater.

It is a really nice feeling. Thank you.

Sasha Allen and the cast of ‘Pippin.’ Photo by Terry Shapiro.

Sasha Allen and the cast of ‘Pippin.’ Photo by Terry Shapiro.

Have a wonderful time in DC performing in the historic National Theatre. Wishing you and everyone in Pippin a successful tour, a Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy 2015.

Happy New Year to you too!

Pippin plays through January 4, 2015 at National Theatre – 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, visit the National Theatre Box Office, call (800) 514-3849, or purchase them online.

LINKS
Gina Jun’s review of Pippin on DCMetroTheaterArts.

Kyle Dean Massey’s website.

Pippin website.

Broadway Royalty Returns to Broadway: A Chat with John Rubinstein on Joining the Cast of ‘Pippin by Teresa McCormick Ertel.

‘Pippin’ is Playing at The National Theatre: An Interview with Kyle Dean Massey on Playing Pippin by Teresa McCormick Ertel.

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