We interviewed actress Laura Michelle Kelly in her dressing room after a recent performance of the wonderful Broadway musical "Finding Neverland." Laura stars as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies.
You had some wonderful duets in the show. Do you have any personal favorites?
I definitely like "What You Mean to Me," because I get to kiss Matthew Morrison. That's quite fun. It's all pretend. But we have a little fun in the show.
In this show there was a lot of incredible dancing. Before you did Broadway, had you ever taken dance classes before?
I did a weekly, like a Saturday dance school, three hours every Saturday. But as an adult, I always felt like I was playing catch up with everybody else because I didn't have that background. So I do often get one or more classes where there's many people as I can playing vocal, singing, acting. Just to keep out of bad habits and keep ahead of the game. Dancewise, it's my weakest.
Do you have any rituals or traditions you like to do before a show to get prepared?
I got this ball seat so that I wouldn't get slouching. We've been doing a lot of exercises. Exercises, today we got like a game. We're going to do 20 pushups, 20 squats which is to keep us fit. And to get your heart rate going up and you could sing easier on stage. If you do a little bit of a 10 minute run before you go on the stage your heart rate is going fast so it slows down a little bit just before you're about to sing. You want to take as much oxygen in as possible so you can put it all out when you sing. We do warm ups. We warm up our bodies and our voices. I try also to relax my brain by getting a lot of positive energy out there. See how many messages I have all around my room? One of them is, "If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely." So it's not that you just have to warm up your mental life when you're out on stage sometimes you can be . . . nerves can kick in. It's one of those things. So in order not to get stage fright I like to prepare myself before I go on stage with these positive things and then we hug everybody. It helps when we're out there.
When you were a child was there any one actor who inspired you?
I always loved Barbra Streisand. She is one of my heroes because she was a director, singer, a Broadway person, a movie star and she seems to have turned out a pretty nice person from what I can imagine. I've never met her, but I've heard nice things. I always thought of her. I'd like to do a lot of the things that she does. She inspires me a lot.
What made you start doing Broadway shows?
You know, I didn't ever know you can get paid doing the job you love. I was always on stage because I loved it. After school I found out you can go onstage and I was there every night after school I would go and do part of any production no matter where it was. I'd find out where it was, take myself, I'd get on the bus myself, I'd walk an hour to get to the theater. I'd walk in the rain. I just loved it. It's the same feeling, if you were a painter you just got to paint, if you were a drawer and you're drawing in any scene any class that you're in. You can't stop drawing, or writing and that's how I feel about acting. And then when I found out that you can get paid for it, it was like, "Wow that's amazing."
How is backstage during all the shows?
It's like a dance backstage. Everything is totally choreographed backstage. So that we don't get hit by things. Alot of the props and furniture get put into the air and there's not a lot of room back there. And so we have to make sure we have quick changes. You don't want to get hit on the head by anything. It's all a dance. And a lot of people got quick changes. It's pretty busy. Like another show going on behind the scene.
If you were granted one wish, what would it be?
Really good question. I think my wish would be that I can always continue to speak to kids, like people spoke to me as a child, to encourage them and say you can always do your dreams, you can go for it no matter where you come from. My wish is to always be able to do this. To be able to teach others and encourage other people.
What was your favorite Broadway show that you have ever done?
That I've ever been in? Does West End count too? Because there's a version of Broadway in England called the West End. I did 10 shows there. My favorite show is my first-ever show that I ever did and that was "Beauty and the Beast." I played Belle. Only for two weeks I was the understudy. I was lucky enough to get on, but the first part I ever played I had my first and only line was, "I need six eggs" and then someone would say "that's too expensive." That was my first line on stage. I loved it.
Who is your favorite co-star in "Finding Neverland" because there were a lot of people in it.
I can't say one particular person because everyone else will get jealous. But in life I worked with some amazing people in every different show I've been in. I tend to fall in love with every person that I work with because you see them every day and you have to overcome so much together that you get so inspired by another human. So I have a lot of favorites. I think it's OK to have more than one favorite. Everyone is my favorite that I work with.