In Part 5 of a series of interviews with the cast of A Grand Night for Singing at Montgomery Playhouse, meet Rachel Weisenthal.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell us where we may have seen your work on our local stages before? Who did you play?
Rachel: Rachel Weisenthal. My most recent role was Chava in Damascus Theatre Company’s Fiddler on the Roof. I also perform in Rock and Roll Revival at Sherwood High School.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of A Grand Night for Singing?‘
I consider singing to be one of my strengths, so a musical revue appealed to me. I’m also familiar with a lot of Rodgers and Hammerstein shows.
What were the biggest challenges learning your songs?
There’s only 5 people in our cast, so there’s no one to listen to or cheat off of when learning your part. If you don’t know your notes, no one will sing them for you! This is really challenging when learning music, but it also really motivated me to make sure I know my stuff. I’m also singing second soprano for most of the group songs. I usually sing first soprano, which is mostly just the melody… it’s pretty different having to learn actual harmonies and tricky parts!
What do your songs/solos mean to you?
My big song is “Cain’t Say No!”from Oklahoma! I think it’s really about getting caught up in the moment and letting love or romance cloud your judgement. I’d say I’m a pretty romantic person, so I can definitely relate to that. It’s also just really cute and fun to sing! There’s lots of funny moments and chances to show off.
How would you describe a Rodgers and Hammerstein song?
To me, Rodgers and Hammerstein songs try to capture people’s responses to all kinds of situations. There’s not really many songs that necessarily advance the plot of the show or anything like that. The characters are saying to the audience “Look at this crazy situation! Here’s how I feel about it! Remember when this happened to you and you felt this way?” It’s all very universal.
What do these songs have to say to today’s audiences?
Going off of the previous question, I think the nature of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs is to be relatable to all audiences. People hearing the songs today will get just as much enjoyment out of them as audiences from years ago. Especially because love is a repeating theme in their songs, and that’s something everyone can understand.
What song that you are not singing is your favorite and why?
I really love “A Wonderful Guy.” It’s really cute and two of my favorite Broadway actresses, Kelli O’Hara and Laura Osnes, both sang it in South Pacific.
This is an ensemble piece. What do you admire most about your fellow cast members? And what have you learned about being a member of an ensemble that you hadn’t experienced before?
I admire my cast members so so so much. I’m the youngest person in the cast, so working with people who have more experience than me is really beneficial. I’ve learned a lot about dedication and persistence. If only one or two people are needed for a song, the other three will be studying their music or going over choreography. I remember at one of the first rehearsals Lauren-Nicole came in with a paper fully mapping out her first song- she had already learned her part and thought really thoroughly about what her character was thinking while singing. I had barely looked at my music yet! That really gave me a wakeup call to get down to business and use my time wisely.
Why do you think Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music is till so popular and if you had to describe their legacy-what would it be?
Their music is timeless. I think their legacy is writing beautiful music that relates to everyone. Most of us will never dance with a prince, but everyone can relate to the excitement Cinderella sings about in “A Lovely Night.”
What are you doing next on the stage?
My next show is Rock and Roll Revival #45 at Sherwood High School.
If you could have any role in a Rodgers and Hammerstein show, what would it be?
Nellie in South Pacific. I admire her optimism and charisma, and all of her songs are adorable. And, like I said, I’d like to follow in Kelli O’Hara and Laura Osnes’ footsteps.
A Grand Night for Singing plays through February 27, 2016 at Montgomery Playhouse and Arts on the Green performing at The Arts Barn – 311 Kent Square Road, in Gaithersburg, MD. For tickets, call (301) 258-6394, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of The Montgomery Playhouse’s ‘A Grand Night for Singing’: Part 1: Brian Lyons-Burke.
Meet the Cast of The Montgomery Playhouse’s ‘A Grand Night for Singing’: Part 2: Jennifer Georgia.
Meet the Cast of The Montgomery Playhouse’s ‘A Grand Night for Singing’: Part 3: Lauren-Nicole Gabel.
Meet the Cast of The Montgomery Playhouse’s ‘A Grand Night for Singing’: Part 4: Danny Santiago.
Meet the Cast of The Montgomery Playhouse’s ‘A Grand Night for Singing’: Part 5: Rachel Weisenthal.
Paul Bessel and Barbara Braswell’s 5 star review of ‘A Grand Night for Singing’ on DCMetroTheaterArts.