TheaterMania  11-16-99 

Featuring Susan Egan 

Sassy, smart and finally not an ingenue....Susan Egan sets theater on fire as Sally Bowles in Broadway’s Cabaret.  Ms. Egan is best known for her Tony-nominated performance as Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, she also originated the role of Princess Leonide in last year’s Triumph of Love.  She recently starred in Putting it Together with Carol Burnett at the Los Angeles Mark Taper Forum and is hard at work on her first solo album, however TheaterMania caught up with her... 

What is it like to finally not play an ingenue? 

I am loving it! And I’m reveling in every moment where I can just grab hold and go for it. 

Are there any similarities between Belle and Sally? 

Belle’s as dead as Elsie in Chelsea I like to say!  They’re both outcasts.  But that’s where the similarities end. Sally is so insecure.  She finds things that work for her.  So if a little works well, then a lot will work more.  The only reason she’s singing in this club in Berlin is because she’s a novelty, because she’s British.  Sally finds her gimmick and she works it to death. 

Is there any Susan Egan in Sally Bowles? 

Yeah...definitely....definitely.  I think Sally is a big act.  She’s acting all the time.  I think we all have aspects of that in our personalities.  There are very few people that you’re really, really wholeheartedly yourself with.  I find in this industry, certainly being “on” is sort of what’s required a lot of the time.  I think you’ve gotta have a gimmick that works. 

One of her gimmicks is eating raw eggs, tell me about that! 

Protein, baby! 

What is it about this production that makes it such a hit? 

Because it’s real.  I think it’s two things.  I think this show has always felt like two different shows.  You’ve got inside the club and outside the club.  Sam Mendes (the director) solved all that by putting everything inside the club.  I love that Sam took out the romanticism.  He made it real.  It’s not raunchy for raunchy’s sake.  I don’t even think it’s edgy.  It’s just real.  It lifts the veils of musical theatre off of the piece.

Was there anything that made you nervous to do this show? 

After I’d been cast I was looking during the song “Mein Herr” at all these girls...speaking of Mine Hair...I was just thinking okay, so, where do they go to wax?  That’s really what I was most nervous about. 

You look like you’re having the time of your life on stage. 

I am having the time of my life.  I love it.  Sally is the queen of denial with style.  But you have no idea what it’s like to do a show with no tights.  NO TIGHTS!!!  I mean jiggle, jiggle, jiggle jiggle.  Even the really skinny girls in the show with perfect bodies and their butts still jiggle and I thought “Yeah, okay...good.” 

But you look great up there. 

Well, I learned my lesson during Beauty and the Beast.  Before the show, I would eat dinner with a group of friends before we’d all go off to do our shows.  I would eat cheeseburgers and french fries because I wore that big yellow dress that could hide everything.  And I’d look at Marin Mazzie who was barely eating anything, and realized, oh, she’s naked in that first scene in "Passion."  And she would say, “You haven’t really lived until you’ve been naked on Broadway.”  Well, I feel like I’m almost there.  Luckily though I don’t have to let my underarm hair grow because Natasha Richardson (who originated the role) didn’t want to so it’s been established.  And I got a great dressing room because Jennifer Jason Leigh has some good agents.  But still....jiggle, jiggle, jiggle.  Denial with style, darling!!!!


Leslie Becker