In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Kensington Arts Theatre, meet Emma Lord.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you in the past year on local stages?
Emma: I’m Emma, I’m a recent UVA grad and freelance lifestyle writer, and I played Eponine with the Reston Players last year.
Why did you want to be part of Kensington Arts Theatre’s Spelling Bee?
I’d always heard how hilarious it was from friends who have been in it before, and heard that Kensington was a great group of people to work with.
Have you appeared in or seen other productions of Spelling Bee before and who did you play and how is this production different and unique?
It’s my first time in the show.
What did you perform at your audition and where were you when you got the call that you had the role?
I sang “Frank Mills” from Hair, and I was working from home when I got the e-mail, so it was classless couch freakout.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to your character?
I play Olive, who starts out a little mousy and unsure of herself and eventually gets really into the spirit of the competition. Growing up I was always the awkward kid who disturbed everyone and myself by being surprisingly ultra-competitive at things I was passionate about, so it’s easy to relate to the character.
How did you prepare for your role, and what were the biggest challenges you faced and how did you resolve them?
Mostly I just tried to channel my inner insecure kid. It’s such a painfully awkward age, and if you let yourself remember anything from that time you remember it in full force, and I think we all had a lot of that to draw from to help us connect with our characters. My biggest challenge, of all things, was the actual spelling. I’m a really great speller on paper but I have a huge disconnect with imagining strings of letters and numbers in my head, so I had to practice spelling even really easy words out loud a lot more than I practiced my lines.
What advice and suggestions did Bobby Libby and your Musical Director Sam Welch give you that helped you prepare for your role? Have you worked with Bobby and Sam before? And how would you describe their styles of directing and musical directing?
Both Bobby and Sam have a really great style of direction where instead of nitpicking on specific things, they ask you thought provoking questions or have discussions about certain themes in the script to help everyone come to their own interpretations of the characters. They’ve done an amazing job of guiding us all to a place where we feel a personal connection with what is happening in the story and it made it a lot easier for us to feel comfortable in our roles pretty early on in the rehearsal process. They are also not afraid to take risks or make bold decisions with the show’s direction, which I think makes the show really engaging.
What is your favorite scene and song in the show that you are not in and do not sing and what is your favorite scene that you are in and favorite song that you do sing and why?
My favorite song that I’m not in is by far “Chip’s Lament” because it just comes out of nowhere and it’s so inappropriately blunt in a way that I have never heard another song in musical theater before. My favorite song that I get to sing is the “I Love You” song, because it comes from such a raw and honest place and when all three characters in the number sing together in the end it just feels like flying.
Which character in the show is most like you, and why?
I’d say I am a cross between Marcy and Olive, in that I was a quiet, dorky kid who always put huge pressure on myself to perform well – unlike either of those characters, though, my parents were perfectly happy whether or not I was the best at something, just as long as I was having fun.
What do you admire most about your fellow castmates’ performances?
They are SO FUNNY. I knew as early as the audition that if I got this part I’d be screwed in the best possible way, because even then I was breaking character from laughing so hard. Everybody has an uncanny knack of switching it up every performance by delivering a joke a different way or adding some gesture, and it is a constant struggle not to burst out laughing at them onstage.
Why should audience goers bring their families to see Spelling Bee?
You will laugh so hard that you won’t have to go to the gym for a week.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee plays from February 13-March 1, 2015 at Kensington Arts Theatre – performing at Kensington Town Center – 3710 Mitchell Street, in Kensington, MD. For tickets, purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ at Kensington Arts Theatre: Part 1: Dylan Echter.
Meet the Cast of ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ at Kensington Arts Theatre: Part 2: Matt Baughman.