Today, we have a rather special exclusive interview with Susie Iventosch. This interview is different from our normal interviews in that we are actually interview the mother of Courtney Iventosch, who is a swing on the 2nd National Tour of the show. Click here to read our earlier interview with Courtney & click here to visit Susie’s website!
1. Was there a particular moment you can pinpoint when you realized your daughter was going to make it as a professional actress?
It’s funny, but as a parent you never want to squash your children’s dreams, so you just tell them they are going to be famous one day, and deal with reality, if and when it arrives. When Courtney’s brothers decided they were going to be NBA stars, of course, I told them I’d be their biggest fan (next to their father and grandfather), and that they could finally support us with their fantastic salaries. They did not make it to the NBA, though they did play college ball, which was (and is) an amazing experience for them.
By the same token, when Courtney decided to pursue “Broadway”, I was her side kick. Despite the odds, she had a goal, and my job as her mom was to support her and lift her up when she was down, not discourage her. Besides, all through her youth I relished every single dance recital, musical theater performance and band concert. When she was a senior in college, I accompanied her to NYC during spring break, so she could get a taste of Broadway auditioning, and experience first-hand the excitement (and the rejection) that comes along with it.
Then a funny thing happened … she began to book ensemble parts in regional productions, and ultimately, leads in those shows. It was then that I began to have an inkling she was truly destined to be a performer. I absolutely knew she was going to be a star, when she told me that Bob Richard, her fabulous choreographer in Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre production of On The Town (Courtney was Ivy Smith), told her at the conclusion of the run, “Courtney, I want you to go back to New York City and put your diva on!” He, in all his “wizard wisdom” and with his vast professional experience, had so much confidence in Courtney that from then on, I was certain of her success in this field!
2. What was your reaction when Courtney informed you that she had been cast in “Wicked”?
I screamed my head off, and started crying when she told me that she had been cast in the 2nd National Tour of Wicked. During that same trip to NYC her senior year, Courtney and I took in two Broadway shows: In the Heights and Wicked. We have always loved to go to musicals together, but seeing these shows on Broadway really enticed her and made her ambitions that much more palpable. Still, it was a faraway dream that one day she could perform in such a venue.
After the shows, she always loved to drag me to the stage doors to meet the cast. I felt like a bit of a groupie, but she loved it and the performers were always so encouraging to her. They would tell her to keep working hard, and one day she, too, could be in a Broadway show. And, as it turns out, they were right!
3. What was it like for you seeing her in the show for the first time? Could you pick out her voice in the ensemble from hearing it for so many years?
Oh boy, when I saw her in Wicked for the very first time, we were in a snow storm in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and it was such a magical night for me. It actually felt as though we were characters in a glass snowball! I was with my cousin and her husband and we absolutely LOVED the show, and to know that my daughter was a part of it was so exciting. I was a proud mama, but absolutely delighted in seeing her hard work pay off and her dreams come true. I was just so happy for her!
4. Are there any other roles, in “Wicked” or elsewhere that you would particularly like to see Courtney play one day?
One of my favorite mother-daughter memories is a trip that Courtney and I took to London and Paris when she was 15 years old. We were lucky enough to be able to see Lion King, where we sat in the rafters, but for Mamma Mia we were in the sixth or seventh row and we were in heaven! We thought the show was terrific. So, one role I’d love to see Courtney perform would be Sophie in Mamma Mia. Also, the very first musical Courtney was ever in was Oklahoma. She was 11 years old and one of the “featured” dancers. Then, last summer, we saw Bob Richard’s choreographic rendition of Oklahoma at Music Circus in Sacramento and it reminded us of how much we love the show. I think Courtney would be a perfect Laurie, because she is a gorgeous dancer and talented singer, too. And, of course, I’d love to see her good-witchy qualities come out as Galinda in Wicked!
5. What advice would you give to parents of children trying to make it in show business?
My best advice is that a child can never dream too big, but only too small. If they never dream and if parents don’t encourage those very dreams, how will they ever reach for the stars? Much of success is talent and ability, but a critical component is the belief in oneself and the confidence to venture forth. My own mom wanted to be a dancer, and was apparently very good at it, but her dad did not think it was any profession for his daughter. So she gave up on that dream. She still dances whenever she can, and in fact, she tells me she dances while she exercises on the tread mill! It is great fun for her to vicariously realize those dreams through her granddaughter.
I say … let them dream and dream big!