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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 9, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 23
Divine decadence: An interview with Leigh Ann Larkin - Sally Bowles
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Divine decadence: An interview with Leigh Ann Larkin - Sally Bowles

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

CABARET
Broadway at the Paramount
Paramount Theatre
June 13-25


Leigh Ann Larkin has appeared on Broadway in some of the most intimidating roles written for musical theatre. She has performed with some of the great powerhouses of stage: Patti LuPone, Elaine Stritch, and Bernadette Peters, only to name a few. She currently tackles another one of the great challenging female role of theatre, Sally Bowles. As the hit musical Cabaret comes through Seattle, the Seattle Gay News caught up with this incredible, strong woman.

Eric Andrews-Katz: Who were your earliest influences in becoming a performer?

Leigh Ann Larkin: Oh, definitely Patti LuPone for sure, and Bernadette Peters, too. Both of these women were super influential for me.

Andrews-Katz: Growing up in Pittsburg, what was the show that gave you the 'theatre bug'?

Larkin: I think during my junior year of high school we had a musical review of sorts. I got to get up on stage and sing songs in front of people, do solos and such, and just loved it! I thought it was awesome, and I felt completely at home. I kind of knew from there that I should look into it more seriously, audition for more of the professional shows around the city.

Andrews-Katz: While in Gypsy, which person was more intimidating to work with, librettist Arthur Laurents or Diva Patti LuPone?

Larkin: Arthur for sure! Arthur was a very strong presence, and super cool, but he was also a genius. I think that even Patti felt that as well. He was an incredibly director and got what he wanted out of the artist. He was very specific, and not a lot of directors are or can be, and I think that's why the show was so incredible. Since he wrote the musical's script, he knew exactly what he wanted.

Andrews-Katz: You appeared in another Sondheim musical in 2009. Do you prefer playing the theatrically ambitious Dainty June of Gypsy, or the sexually ambitious Petra of A Little Night Music?

Larkin: That's such a hard distinction. They are both so different. Both are very strong women, which I tend to gravitate towards. I don't know if I can answer this. They both have their own special qualities.

Andrews-Katz: Was it difficult learning the lyrics or getting the rhythm of Petra's patter-song, 'The Miller's Son'?

Larkin: Yes! It was very much so. That one you can't space out on, not even for a second, because you'll get lost. I would go over the score every night, before going on stage, to sing that song. It's so specific with the melody and the rhymes. It's so quick that if you miss a beat, it's too late; the train has already left the station.

Andrews-Katz: Is Sally Bowles a talented woman?

Larkin: That's debatable. The thing about Sally is that many people have opinions about her, and that's because she can become so many different things. She's specific to her wants, and there's nothing to support that she has to be one way or the other [regarding talent]. It's implied that she is not talented, but with all other underlying baggage, she has her own personality quirks as well. Who is to say she isn't talented? I think that's why she works both ways and it depends on the actress portraying her. She gets as far in her life as she does because of who she is, and knowing how to use her 'talents'. She is very smart.

Andrews-Katz: Does Sally survive World War II? What happens to her?

Larkin: I think she survives especially since she is not of Jewish descent. I think for her, she continues doing what she is doing. That is her life. She continues as a performer and works where she can in the clubs she can, and leads a life similar to many of the women I have worked with in the past. She's performing and trying to become recognized, for Sally that is really important and not something she is going to give up on.

Andrews-Katz: If you could play any role - regardless of limitations - what would it be and why?

Larkin: That is such a good one. You know I would probably have to say something by Adam Guettel. I love his work and think he is incredible. I would probably say Clara from Light in the Piazza. That would be something different from what I've done. 'Myths and Hymns' is good as well; he has so many hits. But one of my dreams is to play Flaemmchen from Grand Hotel. I think she is similar to Sally in a way, on the edge and showing their vulnerability. I would like to do that also. But out of all the things, I would want to perform in a 'straight' play. A non-musical role is something different and offers different experiences. I would love to do a Sam Shepherd piece. I love his work.

Cabaret is the hit musical based on the short stories of Christopher Isherwood. Jill Harris, Judy Dench, Natasha Richardson, and Emma Stone have played the role of Sally Bowles on Broadway and in London. Liza Minnelli immortalized the role in the film version.

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