"Call Me Adam" once again chats with actress and singer Catherine LeFrere. This time around we discuss making her concert debut at 54 Below in Confessions of a Young Character Actress, directed by Will Nunziata and music direction by Brian Nash.
Confessions of a Young Character Actress will be presented at 54 Below on September 5 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!
1. On September 5 at 9:30pm, you are making your 54 Below debut. What made now the right time to make your 54 Below debut? I actually just got back into town a few weeks ago after being in North Carolina doing Boeing Boeing for the past two months. Will and I had been in communication for a while about this concert and when he called Jennifer Ashley Tepper at 54 Below to pitch the idea, she offered us this date in September! A little sooner than expected but I truly believe everything happens for a reason and considering I'm in between jobs right now, I think it's the perfect transition from my busy summer stock season into the fall!
2. What excites you about performing at 54 Below? What makes 54 Below the perfect venue to perform in? The space is gorgeous! It's a perfect and intimate space that is just right for the style of this show. The sound is great, the food and drinks are great, and I just love the atmosphere they've created there. The stage is small but large enough to have a small band and you don't feel like you are on top of the audience, yet they are close enough where you feel like you can really connect with them. It really is, in my opinion, the premiere concert/cabaret space in the city. So many of the artists I admire have performed there and I'm so honored and blessed to be doing my first concert ever at 54 Below! It's exactly what I dreamed the atmosphere of my solo concert to be (even years ago!).
3. Your show is entitled, Confessions of a Young Character Actress and you will be singing fresh arrangements of songs written by some of the greatest composers in music history. How did you come up with the title and concept for the show? For the concept of the show, Will knows that I didn't want the show to be overly biographical or chronological, as some solo concerts are. There's nothing wrong with that format, it's just not what I saw for my show. When Will and I started talking I had just come off of probably being one of the youngest (if not the youngest) actresses to play "Dorothy Brock," in 42nd Street, outside of a high school, college, or community theater production. And we were sort of laughing about it and why, at the age of 28, I seem to be hitting my stride, even though I'm still technically too young for my "type"- whatever that means. And we were talking about how I feel like in the past year or so I started walking into the room (audition, rehearsal etc) with a greater sense of who I am and loving what I bring to the table. I don't necessarily think I'm better than I was a few years ago - although I'm certainly more experienced - but I definitely feel more comfortable in my own skin as a performer and I think it's reading to others. It's definitely been hard to be an actor in my 20's with a voice and look like I have, but I think I'm definitely being given opportunities to redefine what it means to be a character actress. It bugs me when people think that "character actress" means "overweight and ugly." I don't think that's it at all...I think it has nothing to do with how you look. Sure how you look informs your sense of self, but it's truly the desire to tell stories of characters who aren't necessarily exactly like you (whether that means a dialect, a hump, or a particular gesture), with the capabilities of doing so, that makes you a character actor.
4. Your show is being directed by Will Nunziata, who has directed numerous concerts at 54 Below including those of Tony Award winners Lillias White and Cady Huffman. What is it about Will's vision as a director that lined up with what you were looking for in a director? Will and I actually met about a year ago doing a really intense fitness boot camp at our gym. Immediately we connected on a personal and professional level. He has seen me in two shows since then (Carner and Gregor's UNLOCKED Off-Broadway last summer and 42nd Street just a few months ago at The Gateway in Bellport, NY) and we've been talking about working together for while. I saw him and his brother give a concert this past winter at 54 Below and I fell in love with Will's sense of style and love of classic tunes. He totally understands that fine line between being universally entertaining and overly cliche, which is what I'm going for. And, as it was my first time to 54 Below, I also fell in love with the space!
5. The talented Brian Nash is your musical director. What are you looking forward to most about working with Brian? I owe this connection to my director, Will Nunziata. Brian understands my love for old fashioned, big band swing and I think some of the arrangements we are coming up with are going to be fabulous.
6. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing your 54 Below debut? Will and I are really trying to put together a piece that honors the solo concert/cabaret art form while staying true to my style of self deprecating humor and musical sensibilities. Most people my age are not going to be singing the songs that I am going to sing, which I think is part of the fun and uniqueness of the evening. I want people to remember that these songs exist and are exquisite...and also that young people can sing them!
7. Since your show is called Confessions of a Young Character Actress, who were some of your influences that lead to you being a character actress? I don't really feel like I chose being a character actress...it's just who I am. I always wanted to be an actor and I think at some point you just discover (and I've really just discovered this in the last few years, even though I've been like this for years) that this is who you are...this is what I bring to the table as a performer.
I've been a fan of Katie Finneran's for years. I think she is so crazy talented and unique. I think people would place Meryl Streep in the leading lady category but I see her more as a character actress. Does her voice ever sound the same? Her gestures? I've heard she has her makeup artist reshape her eyebrows for every role. She's just so brilliant. Not a female, but I recently saw Chris Sieber in Matilda and he's definitely one of my favorite character actors. He can do it all…from the little "Prince" in Shrek, to "Billy Flynn" in Chicago, to "Miss Trunchbull" in Matilda…just, wow, what a range! I'd probably laugh at his interpretation of the phone book.
8. If you could be any original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Cherry. Definitely cherry.
9. How do you want to be remembered? I want to be the girl that redefines what it means to be a character actress. That it's not about what you look like, but what is in your soul. Do you want to tell stories playing many different characters of various ages and voices? Do you not fit in to any one box? That's what being a character actress is about. I want them to say, "damn she was sexy!" But most importantly I want them to say, "damn she was FUNNY!"
Born in the wrong era, Catherine LeFrere was a character actress by the time she was 3 years old. With her knock-out looks and old-school sensibilities, Catherine redefines what it is to be a working character actress on the stage and small screen.
Catherine was recently seen at The Gateway Playhouse playing "Dorothy Brock" in 42nd Street, directed by three-time Tony Award nominee Randy Skinner. Other favorite credits include the off-Broadway musical Unlock’d, the New York Stage & Film Festival’s production of For Worse (directed by Mark Linn-Baker), and the television show Running Wilde (opposite Will Arnett). Catherine is a proud graduate of Northwestern University