Best known for originating the role of "Christmas Eve" in the Tony Award winning musical Avenue Q, Ann Harada continues to dazzle audiences with her talented acting, exquisite vocals, and most of all her comedic genius! I first interviewed Ann back in 2008, just as she was getting ready to open on Broadway in 9 to 5. It's an honor to once again have the opportunity to interview Ann as she is now starring on NBC's SMASH and in the new Broadway musical Cinderella, currently playing at the Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway at 53rd Street).
1. Last time we spoke, you were getting ready to join the cast of Broadway's 9 to 5. Since then, you created Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve, a benefit for BCEFA and are a series regular on NBC's SMASH! What do you enjoy most about being on SMASH? What is the best part about getting to work with Megan Hilty again (the two of you worked together in 9 to 5)? The thing I most enjoy about being on Smash is hanging out with all the theatre people, both regulars and guests. It is so much fun to run into bigwigs like Manny Azenberg and Jordan Roth and to meet up with old friends like Lewis J. Stadlen, who was in my first Equity show, and I hadn't worked with him in the 20+ years between that and Smash! And the cool young dancers are so sweet to me, teaching me how to use my phone.
The best part about working with Megan Hilty again is that even though now she's a big TV star, she's just the same sweet girl she always was. I was in awe of her talent during 9 to 5 and I'm still in awe of her talent...the only difference is the rest of the country knows about it now.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Lots of people, but especially Angela Lansbury.
3. Now you are starring in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. What made you want be part of this show? I did a reading of the show in January 2012 and I just fell in love with the characters and with Doug Beane's script. I always loved the music. So it was a no-brainer.
4. What do you identify most with about your character "Charlotte" in Cinderella? We both like pink? We're both kind of awkward and have a hard time wearing heels?
5. What does it mean to you be getting to originate a role in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical? Being able to originate a role in a Rodgers and Hammerstein show is knowing you will be a part of history. I grew up knowing that Rodgers and Hammerstein was the gold standard of musical theatre...even people who didn't go to the theatre much (like my entire family) owned a record of The Sound of Music or The King and I. So to be able to share in that legacy is extremely moving to me.
6. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Cinderella? I hope audiences experience the sense of romance and delight that I always felt when I watched the TV version as a child (Lesley Ann Warren...though I do adore the Julie Andrews one as well).
7. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse on your own? Haha! I love the rehearsal period of a show. I love the first few days when we're learning the music the most. My favorite place to rehearse on my own is my bedroom. In my own little corner, I can be whatever I want to be!
9. What do you relate to now about the story of Cinderella that you might not have when you were a child? I actually feel a little sorry for the stepmother now...her dreams for her own daughters are thwarted.
10. In addition to being an actress, you are also a mother. Has being a mother influenced your decisions in choosing what roles you audition for? If so, how? I try very hard not to take long-term work away from NYC. The last time I went out of town for a long time was for the LA tryout of 9 to 5 and I was away from my son for 5 weeks without seeing him...that was too long.
11. You are known for originating the role of "Christmas Eve" in Avenue Q. Looking back, what was the best part about creating this role and starring in this show? Now that Avenue Q continues Off-Broadway at New World Stages, would you ever consider going back to it? What made you want to revive your character "Christmas Eve" for your holiday show Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve, a benefit for BCEFA? The best part about creating "Christmas Eve" was that so much of her is me. So there's a little bit of me in that show no matter where or who plays the part! Of course I would consider playing her again, but I don't think they really need me Off-Broadway! Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve is special because playing her permits me to indulge my wildest musical fantasies (It was really just an excuse to riff on this character that I love and know so well, and to have a great excuse to hang out with cute guys. What can I say? I'm shallow. (Oh! See question 4!)
13. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Stick your dick out." It means, take a chance, go for it.
14. Favorite way to spend your day off? Reading under the covers.
15. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Flying, flying, flying! Invisibility is cool too but really, flying!