For the past few months, actresses Justine Turl (pictured right) and Lauren Lazar (pictured left) have been eagerly preparing for their role as “Sarah Brown” in our upcoming production of Guys and Dolls! We had a chance to ask our leading ladies about their experience playing the prim, proper and determined leader of the Save a Soul Mission! Read on to see what they had to say.
What sparked your interest in musical theatre? Justine: My love of musical theatre started at a very young age. One of my earliest memories that began my love affair with the theatre, was when my mom took my sister and I to see “The Beauty and the Beast” in Toronto. I was very small at the time but my mom said I sat mesmerized through the entire show, even asking to do it again as soon as it finished. Ever since then I dreamed of being on the stage. I probably have an unhealthy addiction to show tunes! My XM radio in my car is set to the Broadway station on the regular and every other song on my iPod is from a musical. Lauren: It's hard to pinpoint the igniting spark, as I don't remember a time when I didn't love singing, performing, and being on stage! I recall childhood memories of singing and making up dance routines, alongside my best friend, to a beloved Phantom of the Opera cassette tape; vying furiously for the only singing solo in our grade 5 school musical (I didn't get it! It was my first lesson in rejection as an actor); and falling asleep every night listening to the soundtrack of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
What is the most challenging part about performing Sarah Brown? Lauren: “For me, the most challenging part of finding Sarah Brown is looking for the moments of nuance. It's easy to find the two most obvious extremes of her character: i.e. the headstrong Sarah Brown who is rooted in tradition and acts solidly based on her morals, juxtaposed with the Sarah Brown who is softened by love, and follows her heart. What's more difficult is finding the moments in between, where she is experiencing that struggle between head and heart, especially since the text seems to transition very quickly from one to the other and back again. As an actor, it's my job to pinpoint the in-between moments when Sarah begins to let down her guard, question what causes this change, and to attempt the find the honesty in the seemingly rapid transitions/growth that she makes as a character.” Justine: “The most challenging part of performing Sarah Brown for me is probably getting in tune with her physicality. She’s a strong, confident character but she’s not brash. She has some demure characteristics but is nothing close to weak. She’s graceful but hasn’t had years of dance training. Aiming for that perfect balance has definitely been a challenge for me.”
What is your favourite song in the production? Justine: “My favourite song in the production is the duet between Sky and Sarah “I’ve Never Been In Love Before”. Not only is it a stunning ballad, but I truly see it as the ‘ah ha’ moment for both characters. It comes at a time in the show where they both are finally seeing how much their lives have changed since the other has become part of it. It comes as a complete surprise to both of them. Sarah brings out a softer side of Sky that we haven’t seen before, nor has he experienced himself. And Sky has completely swept Sarah off her feet and shown her a part of the world and of herself that she has never seen. It’s during this song that they finally are able to profess their affections to each other.” Lauren: “I think my favourite song is "I'll Know." Besides just having a beautiful, swelling melody, it is an example of one of the things that I think makes a great musical theatre song: one where the characters grow and express that which cannot be put into words alone. At the beginning of the song, Sarah is so sure of herself and what she wants; by the end, her world has been turned upside down as she begins to fall for Sky and questions everything she firmly believed up to that point. By the time that Sarah sings her reprise only moments later, though it retains the same lyrics and melody as the first time it is sung, it suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.”
How would you describe Sarah Brown? Lauren: “Sarah Brown is a fun character to play because she is seemingly a blend of contradictions. The push and pull between tradition and impulse are always at play with her character. She is grounded in conservative morals, yet she is feisty/fiery, and anything but reserved. Though she holds on strongly to her roots and fights for what she believes in, she is flexible enough to be open to change when it comes her way. Complex characters are always so much more fun to play than one-dimensional ones.”
What is the best part about performing in this Wavestage Production? Justine: “My favourite thing about Wavestage is not only that it produces professional, top quality musical theatre, but that it’s a family. Throughout my many years of being a part of the company, I have created some of the most important and closest relationships in my life. There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for the experiences and people Wavestage has brought to my life. I truly feel blessed to be a part of something 'bigger' and could only hope that more people could experience the heart-warming experience that is Wavestage.” Lauren: “This is the first production I have done in a long time where I didn't know almost anybody going in. It has been great getting to know so many new people, and the Wavestage group has been extremely welcoming!”
What do you like about performing as Sarah? Justine: “The thing I love about performing the character of Sarah is that she is so diverse. She has so many different sides and facets to her. She goes from a wholesome, prim and proper lady, to a woman letting loose in Havana. She then becomes a woman who is madly in love with a man who has completely changed her life but becomes angry when she comes to the realization that a sinner might not be able to change. She is able to joke around in a bosom buddy moment with Adelaide but then comes to her senses about Sky. I truly have enjoyed every single moment of becoming Sarah Brown and hope to take some of her with me forever.”