Today, we have an exclusive interview provided by Lauren Ashley Zakrin. As you know, Ms. Zakrin was an understudy for Glinda and ensemble member of the 1st National Tour. Prior to this, she toured as Sandy in “Grease” and as an understudy for Elle and Margot in “Legally Blonde” – a role which she obtained from the popular MTV reality show to search for the newest Elle Woods on Broadway in 2008. Check out her thoughts below!
Since the “Legally Blonde” reality show, you have been one of the most successful candidates from the series. How does that feel?
Oh my! That statement might be a little bit of a stretch 😉 However, I am so eternally grateful for the “Legally Blonde” reality show experience. I recognize that I got unusually lucky in my life, and if I hadn’t been in the right place at the right time, I wouldn’t be where I am now. A great deal of exceptionally talented performers have had to go through a lot of difficult times and relentless periods of struggle before succeeding in any small way in this business. I make my best effort never to take the opportunities I have been given for granted, because I know that if I don’t stay on my toes, humble, and working hard, the gifts I have received could be taken away just as quickly as they were given.
What was it like to tour as Elle Woods and understudy the fabulous Becky Gulsvig and Laura Bell Bundy?
Another gift. To be so young and uneducated in the business, and to have the opportunity to have my first great learning experience come from these two extremely talented, wise, and kind ladies, was a dream. I was able to learn so much, so quickly, about the kind of performer and woman I wanted to be in this business because I got to learn from the best.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be in “Wicked”?
The first time I saw the show. Kendra and Julia. Detroit, MI. 15 years old. Infatuated.
How did you come to audition for “Wicked”? How long was the audition process, and what did you have to do? What was your original audition song?
While I was on tour with Grease, I was flying into NYC to audition for 9 to 5. My current roommate, and Rizzo at the time, Laura D’ Andre, suggested that I ask to be seen for the 1st National tour, because they were holding Glinda auditions the weekend I was in town. This was a right time right place experience. I only did the material from the show. Had one callback. And then when the Grease tour closed, I flew out to meet the Wicked tour to begin my journey in the Emerald City!
What was your reaction when you found out you had been cast in the show?
Truly, I thought it was too good to be true. I still look back and have to pinch my arm, and remind myself that it actually happened. What did I ever do to deserve such fortune?
Tell us about your first show as Glinda. Your last?
My first show as Glinda was scheduled, and was the same week as my first show in the ensemble. I had about ten days to learn the show. They certainly didn’t waste any time! It was surreal. Standing in the bubble and waiting for the show to begin is an absolutely thrilling moment. A beautiful, peaceful time, to look down at the magic below you and give thanks for a dream come true. 🙂 My last show was also as Glinda. I cried. Obviously. We had such a strong family as a company and it was a challenge to end the show in the bubble and sing the final, “Because I knew you…” Cliche, but honest. How did I ever get so lucky?
What was your favorite part of the show to perform in the ensemble? As Glinda?
Perhaps this is an unusual response, but my favorite ensemble number to be a part of is “March of the Witch Hunters.” In a strange way, it is liberating and joyous to let loose and allow your inner crazy to propel you downstage. There is nothing like playing a bloodthirsty psychopath. And of course, you get to sing your face off and swing around a ridiculous… My prop was a psythe 🙂
As Glinda, I enjoy Thank Goodness. It is vocally the most fufilling, and yet most most challenging to sing. It’s also the moment in the show where Glinda shows the most growth, and really goes through an emotional journey that sets the tone for Act II. It is a great moment of discovery, and there is something magical about the new discoveries you can make moment to moment each time you perform the number.
Did you have to change any daily habits to protect your voice and body while in the show?
I am usually pretty responsible when it comes to my diet and excersise. I love committing to Bikram Yoga when I am on the road, and I truly feel that it does wonders healing my body mind during an 8 show week.
Have you witnessed – or perhaps been involved in – any onstage bloopers or mishaps that you’d like to share?
Many. Many, many, many. So many tumbles, fumbles, stutters, and brain farts. One of my favorite mishaps to be a part of took place while I was on as Glinda. Before the Act I train station scene, Boq, Nessa, and Glinda enter together to send Elphaba off to the Emerald City. However, on this particular evening, our Nessa got caught up in a little snag backstage and never made it to our entrance. I had no other choice but just walk out on stage and completely improv a scene with Elphaba, while trying to communicate with her that Boq and Nessa weren’t coming on. (Who are the driving characters during this particular scene.) It was an insane adrenaline rush that you would assume would make you wet your pants. But on the contrary, it was one of the most freeing experiences of my life. Standing in front of 4,000 people and just going with my gut, and somehow making it out alive is pretty cool. And of course, our Elphaba was a champ and played right along! Teamwork!
Are there any dream roles that you’d like to one day perform?
I hate to be cliché, but I have always, and will always fantasize about playing Christine in Phantom of the Opera. Every soprano’s dream. Dark, sexual, beautiful, passionate. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I would LOVE to rock out in Rock of Ages as Sherrie. I’ve got a crush on the 80s. And I wish I had big hair. I would get a perm in a second if it were still trendy.
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
Two things: Confidence and determination… Believe in yourself. Work harder than everyone else.
Take risks. Love.
“When in doubt. Make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brillliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.”