By Christopher A. Pape
I’ve been told by my grandmother a million times that when she saw Barbra Streisand perform in Funny Girl she knew that Barbra would be a star. Recently, I had that same sensation when I was privileged enough to see a performance of Bring It On, the new musical, starring Taylor Louderman. Like Judy Garland, Ms. Louderman is from a small Midwestern town and has a voice that is as smooth as gold.
It is no small thing for me to suggest that Ms. Louderman is the next Garland. For me, Judy was the epitome of what it meant to be an American legend; I have seen many young talents come and go – only to fade way like a summer breeze. Yet, there is something about Taylor that resonates with me. Perhaps it’s just her bubbly personality; I suspect it’s more than that.
Sitting in the theater waiting for the musical to commence, my friend and I were both concerned over the ‘schmaltz’ factor of the production. Was this going to be worth our time? Well, we couldn’t have been more wrong. Taylor stole the show with her clear voice and precise acting and we loved the interplay of her with the whole cast.
I was honored to sit down with her; I picked her brain about her recent move to New York, the difference between Broadway and regional theater and what her future goals may entail. The whole time she was gracious and authentic. I hope you like the piece as much as I liked interviewing her.
Resident (R): I just saw the show last night. You’re extremely talented and I was enthralled.
Taylor Louderman (TL): How kind of you! Thank you so much.
R: You’re from Missouri and just moved to the city in August. How have you acclimated?
TL: It’s growing on me. At first, it was a big adjustment, but now I love it more and more. It’s a lot to take in, but now I’m okay.
R: What part of the city do you live in?
TL: I’m in Long Island City – the first stop in Queens.
R: I used to live there.
TL: Really? It’s so beautiful there. It’s a newly revitalized area; I live right by the Pepsi Cola sign!
TL: Do you have a good view of Manhattan?
R: I do! It’s nice to step away from the show and come home – be able to see the city in the distance. It’s very cool.
R: I’m glad you brought up the show. Tell us, how did you get involved? Give us your back story.
TL: I grew up in a small town in Missouri where the cattle population exceeds the human population. As a child, my mom would have to drive me into St. Louis, which took about an hour, in order for me to be in theater productions. It was my hobby and I loved it, so she wouldn’t dare deny me the opportunity. During high school, I would have soccer practice, freshen up and then drive into St. Louis, come home, do homework and do it all over again the next day.
I was very serious about acting, kind of like my character Campbell is about cheerleading. It was my thing and I worked very hard to get into a good university – I ended up at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where I studied musical theater for two years. At the end of my sophomore year, I got an email from Rachel Kaufman to audition for Bring It On. I got the part and went onto the road with the tour and I’ve been playing the part for about a year now.
R: When did the show come to Broadway?
TL: We opened August 1st. We finished in Toronto, which was our last stop, in May.
R: How is the Broadway stage different than regional theater?
TL: It’s very different. The theaters are often much larger when on tour and less intimate. On Broadway, it’s really great to have a more realistic feeling because the audience is much closer to the stage and right there with you. I like being on a Broadway stage much more; I can relate with the audience – I get a stronger connection with their emotions; how they are feeling. The lifestyle between touring and Broadway is completely different – it makes it feel like I’m doing a completely different show.
R: Having seen the show, I can attest to its extreme physicality – how do you cope with that?
TL: I sleep so much. I really have to limit myself from doing only one errand a day, especially when I’m in Manhattan. The whole cast takes care of their bodies. We all get together 30 minutes before the curtain rises. We’ll warm up our voices and bodies. It’s a big task and we really have to be careful, but we know what we are doing and the guys underneath us will never let us fall. I feel completely safe.
R: Without being rude, you’re around the same age as your character, Campbell. How did you identify with her?
TL: I think I’m so much like her and the show has developed to be more like I am. For example, I even switched schools in my junior year of high school – very much like Campbell did. I think everyone has been in a similar situation, having to start from scratch; I certainly did when I had to change schools. So I can totally relate to my character’s emotions.
R: So now that you have a taste of Broadway, do you think you’ll go back and finish school or will you become a Broadway Diva?
TL: That’s a good question. I will go back when the time is right. I certainly want to ride this wave and get out of it what I can. I love it and I’m learning a lot – which I think is extremely important. Eventually, I will go back to school, but for right now I’m excited to see what’s next. •