Helen Hayes Award Winning actress, Lauren Molina, is a performer to keep your eye on! She recently finished her award winning turn in Mary Zimmerman's production of "Candide" as "Cunegonde" at the Goodman Theatre and Shakespeare Theatre D.C. Prior to "Candide," Lauren originated the role of "Regina" in Broadway's "Rock of Ages" and along with her castmate Mitch Jarvis, created a mocumentary web series called "Rock of Ages Productions." She also created the role of "cello playing" "Johanna" in John Doyle's Broadway Revival of "Sweeney Todd" where she won "Best Featured Actress" from the Independent Reviewers of New England (International Tour). As a featured singer at Westport Playhouse's "The Ladies Who Sing Sondheim" concert, Lauren performed alongside Barbara Cook and fellow "Sweeney Todd" co-star Patti LuPone.

When not performing in a show, Lauren can be found creating her own music, releasing her debut album "Doo-Be-Doo" in 2007 and her sophomore album "Sea For Two" this past May. Lauren can be found promoting her music on New York's cabaret circuit.

Currently, Lauren can be seen in CAP 21's production of "Next Thing You Know" along with Adam Kantor, Lauren Blackman, and Heath Calvert through June 25! Click here for tickets and here for my review. For much more on Lauren be sure to visit http://www.laurenmolina.com.

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I grew up in a very artistic family. My mother is a dancer and my father is a bassist and Personnel Manager of the Detroit Orchestra. I grew up learning piano, cello, and I loved to sing, so in middle school and high school I got into plays. But I was very academic, so at that time, performing was a fun hobby for me. Once I got to college, the University of Michigan, I auditioned for the choir in the music school and got a lot of positive feedback from them. I was unsure of my major back then and after my freshman year I came to CAP 21 (sort of ironically now) for the summer session, to see if I wanted to switch to a musical theatre major or voice major because I knew how hard it was to get into Michigan's Musical Theatre program. So, I thought I would try to transfer in as a voice major. I came to CAP 21 and I was like, I think I want to study this. My parents were very supportive and told me to do what I loved and the money will come. I auditioned and got into the voice program my sophomore year and after studying opera, I was like you know what, I want to sing in English and communicate to people in a very immediate way, so I auditioned and I got into the Musical Theatre Program at Michigan. The rest, as they say, is history. I've been so freakin' lucky...After graduating and senior showcase, I got an agent out of that and then two years out of school, I got the opportunity of a lifetime when I got to play "Johanna" in "Sweeney Todd." They were looking for a small blond girl who could play the cello and sing soprano and from there, my world changed as a performer.

2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? There are so many...I'd love to work Bernadette, Duncan Sheik, Regina Spector, Tina Landau, Geoffrey Rush, Mark Rylance, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, and Zach Galifianakis.

3. What attracted you to "Next Thing You Know" and what is your favorite part of the show? Great question. I have been working on "Candide" for the last few months and before that was "Rock of Ages." So it was either rock-n-roll, belting my face off or high-legit soprano and "Next Thing You Know" actually gave me the opportunity to work on some contemporary musical theatre which is super fun and a totally different place in my voice, and something I've been wanting to work on for a while. The subject matter is very accessible and something we all go through, that sort of quarter-life crisis, what's the next thing, what's the next move I need to make in my life for survival and what will make me happy when you are unsure of how to pay the bills when something isn't working out career wise. That resonated with me and the music is very catchy and fun to sing. We are very lucky to have such a great cast and wonderful people to work with.

4. What do you get from performing your own music that you don't get from performing in a theatrical show? It's an entirely different vibe. I think it's more of Lauren exposed and so I get more nervous to perform my own stuff than to do other people's material because I'm performing as myself. People are judging that, but I just love playing music and singing from the heart and being quirky and silly.

5. What's your favorite part of the creative process in a show and making an album? I love the whole process, but specifically I love the rehearsal process when you have the lines memorized and you can put it up on it's feet and play. I also love when writers are willing to listen to you when you have an idea.

6. Favorite place to practice/rehearse on your own? My apartment because I have all my instruments and I can make so much noise there and just goof off. I think playing music at like 2 in the morning is my most favorite.

7. Favorite way to stay in shape? Doing a show. I call it my show-shape. I don't really work out. When I was in "Rock of Ages," I called that my "Rock of Ages Bod" because of all the lunges and other moves. From singing I actually use my diaphragm, but I also contract muscles in my stomach, so when I do have a six-pack, it's often from singing and squeezing in my abs and producing a sound. Which is why when I'm not in a show, I get fat...it's true.

8. Favorite skin care product? There is this line called REN that is amazing. You can get it a Whole Foods body and it's super expensive, but my dad gave me some for Christmas this year and I love it.

9. Favorite website? I'm an actor so I go to my Facebook page, Playbill.com, Huffington Post, and The New York Times.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. What did you learn about yourself and acting from performing in "Sweeney Todd?" It was a life changing experience in every possible way. I was able to communicate through my voice, through my body, through my instrument and then communicate through the cello as it's own voice and through that I was able to become "Johanna's voice" which was incredible. As a performer, I learned to give up myself and become very vulnerable. The role kind of called for that. I just learned so much by watching the incredibly talented people that I was surrounded by...Michael Cerveris, Patti LuPone, Manoel Felciano, Donna Lynne Champlin, and John Doyle has such an inventive way to tell a story and always simplifying things to purely communicate the story rather than cluttering it with extraneous activity or anything that would distract from the storytelling. That was something else I learned as a performer...simple is always better.

12. What's the best advice you've ever received? Do what you love and the money will come.

13. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I love in dreams when I've been visited by people who are no longer on this planet, like my grandfather, who was like the wisest, coolest person ever.

Lisa Howard

Eric Michael Gillett