A Chat with Molly: Part One
We all love Molly lots right?! We all know she’s an awesome singer, dancer, director, theater coach and vocal instructor, but as her student, I wanted to know a little more about her journey in the musical theater world. So I decided to interview her. She was a bit caught off guard when I showed up for a vocal lesson, and sprung my idea of an interview on her, but in true Molly style, she went with it. This post is only part one of that time I spent grilling her at the AtomicRanch. I hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better through her answers. (And if there is anything else musical theater related you’d like me to ask her, add your question in the comment section below, and I’ll follow up with her and then be sure to add to the “Part Two” Q&A post.)
JES: How old were you when you first started theatre?
MOLLY: My first actual musical… I was eight. I played Peter Pan at The Music Room School of Fine Arts. They did a review show for the summer where they did scenes and songs from different shows. The little section I was in was Peter Pan. I think it was called Summer Magic. [Molly laughs remembering] It wasn’t the whole show, but just a chunk of Peter Pan.
JES: When did you first find out that you had a passion for theatre?
MOLLY: During that show. I think. I had done dance stuff before that, but It was a different thing, you know, being able to sing and dance all at the same time.
JES: How old were you when you moved to New York?
JES: Did you have any fears when moving there?
MOLLY: YES! [She said following it up with laughter.]
JES: What were they?
MOLLY: I didn’t really know anybody there. I had always lived close to home, and even with school I was here [in California]. So like if my car broke down, my dad could come pick me up or whatever, you know? But, I had lived in Vegas for six months, so I knew what it was like to live on my own. AND, I lived on a cruise ship six months before that. I knew I wanted to do musical theatre, and I had tried pretending that I wanted to do everything, which, trying to do everything I was like, “I don’t fit in these other mediums.”
JES: What was your favorite part about life in New York?
MOLLY: Being able to walk everywhere. Also, just the past couple weeks I’ve been really missing the eclectic-ness of the crazy people! [Laughter] I like the fact that everyone who’s there is there with a goal. No one is there just to chill out. [More laughter] I mean, it’s not like California. Everyone is on a mission and has stuff they need to get done. The fast paced-ness, yeah, I love that.
JES: Did you ever struggle with any of your directors?
MOLLY: YEESSS. [Donning an uneasy smile] I mean, I would say that for the most part things have been good, but I think that different directors have different methods of how they get things out of people, and I’ve always appreciated directors who don’t try and play games. By that I mean, try to make everyone feel bad about themselves so that they can break them down to be an “open canvas…” and then try to build them back up. Like, screaming at people and… I mean, sometimes I say, “Oh my gosh! Let’s get this together!” but, not by belittling people. And I’ve worked with some directors who try and make actors feel bad about themselves. It’s a big tactic. It’s bad! I think it’s so much more important to encourage people to feel good about themselves, so they bring their best “self” to the table, rather than making them be afraid of you. It’s even happened with some acting teachers I’ve had, and I would leave just feeling… stupid. I don’t want my students to EVER leave feeling stupid, even if they made a really bad choice. I want them to leave feeling empowered, you know? [We know!] For the most part, directors I’ve worked with have been awesome but there have been a few who have used that tactic.
JES: What is the average amount of time before an actor gets a professional role there?
MOLLY: I think it’s totally different for everybody. Like some people… work years and years and years, and other people get work right off the bat, so it’s a matter of luck, and being right for the part. And, how prepared you are.
JES: How long did it take you to get a professional role?
MOLLY: Umm… so, when I first went to New York, I didn’t have my union card and I went to loads of auditions. Then there was an audition back here [in California] for a production of She Loves Me. [At the audition] I said that I’d love to do it, but I’d have to get my equity card. They said okay we’ll keep that in mind or whatever, and then went back to New York. Later, I went to an another audition with the same director [of She Loves Me] for a different production. He is awesome! He was typing everyone. He walked up to every single person [who was auditioning], shook their hand and said, “So tell me what’s been going on with you lately.” Asking things like, “Where have you been working? What have you been auditioning for,” like all kinds of, just… genuine questions. He was looking each person in the eye, and actually seeing them as real people. [pause] I think so much of it is about whether or not they want to work with you. SOOO much of working as an actor is about working with real people, you know? Anyway, so at the end he’d say to those auditioning, “Oh, you know, I don’t really think we need to see you for this production, but thank you so much for coming,” or “I’d love for you to sing and dance,” or whatever. It was super nice the way he’d talk to everyone. But when he came to me, he was like, “Oh my gosh, Molly, you can’t do this show you’re already doing She Loves Me!” And I was like, “What??” [He said this] in front of the whole room! And he said, “Yeah, didn’t they call you?” And I said, “No, no one called me!” [laughing like it’s still an unbelievable surprise] So that’s how I found out that I got the show. He was like, “Oh they’re probably figuring paperwork stuff out, but you definitely got the show. So, you can’t do this [show], because you already have the other show,” or something kinda like that. It was really… [long pause] I mean, [pause] I’ve never felt more confident in an audition than at that moment! It was cool. While doing that production of She Loves Me, I ended up getting my Equity card back here [in California]. I didn’t get another show for a year and a half, but I kept on going to auditions. I did other little cabaret stuff here and there, performing at open mic nights, but at least I had my Equity card so I was able to go to more specific auditions.
JES: How many shows have you performed in so far?
MOLLY: No clue! [laughs] Which is really bad, I should count, but I don’t know.
JES: What was your favorite role you’ve ever played?
MOLLY: I really loved “Tess” in Crazy For You. Ooooh, and I also really liked… It’s a toss-up among three parts. I also loved playing Tzeitel in Fiddler, and then I really liked playing Electra the Light-Bulb Stripper in Gypsy. [Roars with laughter] Oh my gosh!! [Electra the Light-Bulb Stripper was] totally ridiculous. I chewed gum through the whole part, and that was like my character. I wore these ridiculous heels, and I was like a total ditz. They put my wig on backwards; because it looked fluffier. It was crazy! I had buttons in the thumbs of my costume, so when I would do a certain motion, I could make it light up. The song is called “You Gotta Get A Gimmick,” so it’s like, [breaks out singing] “You can [makes a squeak noise] oh! You can oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! They’ll never make you rich!” [Performed] With this whole crazy voice!! [Continues to sing in a high pitched squeaky voice] “So an oh! And an oh! And an oh! Oh! Oh! But I do it with a switch! I’m Electrifying, and I ain’t even trying, I never have to work to get paid.” [It was] Stupid, but the audience went crazy, so it’s the best. Tess wasn’t the biggest part in the show, but that’s the kind of part that I love. It’s not stressful. With Tess there’s a part at the end of the show where she says, [begins to sing softly] “Drop that long face come on…” whatever the words are, but there’s no music and you just pop your head out of a window, and then suddenly belt a super high note out of a window. I got to dance and sing, and not be super stressed out. Whereas, [in the part of] Amalia [She Loves Me] I was SUPER stressed.
JES: What’s the craziest show you’ve ever been in?
MOLLY: Okay, so in Evita, the choreography backstage of changing my costume 17,000 times was like… the most I’ve had to run around like a lunatic. I had to change my clothes so many times in that show. But when I did The Wizard of Oz I wore the weirdest costumes, like dressing as a poppy in a green uni-tard, or a Winkie with a long nose. I did some shows in college that were pretty out there too.
JES: What was the hardest decision as an actor you had to make?
MOLLY: It was when I did Wizard of Oz. I was involved in a production of Animal Farm with the Son of Simile Ensemble, which is a theatre company in L.A. It was a very artistic production—maybe Animal Farm would have been the weirdest show I’ve done. Ha! Anyway, I was playing Muriel the goat, in Animal Farm, and it wasn’t making any money, but it was this really new up and coming theatre group, and it was my first show in L.A. Then, [at the same time,] I was cast in Wizard of Oz, which was going to be earning points for my Equity card. It was directed by Jaime Rocco, the guy I mentioned who did the typing [at my audition in New York], and also who I did She Loves Me with. If I took the part in Wizard of Oz, it meant I had to drop out of Animal Farm. I was super stressed out about it! The director of Animal Farm had helped me get my first apartment in L.A., he lived in my building, it was like, how am I going to do this? AHHH! But I did, because it was what I felt I needed to do career-wise, for the path I wanted to pursue. Hands down it was the best decision I ever made. Because of it, I met my roommate, Tiffany Barrett, in New York, and the director from She Loves Me, Jamie Rocco, ended up getting my Equity card, and I made all kinds of other connections in New York. I think when I made that decision it was the day I decided I wanted to be a professional musical theatre actor, not do it as a hobby. I DO NOT advise dropping out of shows once you’re already involved in them, but all the stress I had over it, ended up being the right decision for me.
JES: What areas would you like to improve in as a performer?
MOLLY: All areas, I guess… I’d like to be able to trust myself more…
JES: If you could star in any role as a performer, who would you want to play?
MOLLY: I REALLY want to play… [laughs] Oh my gosh, what’s her name…??? The jerky girl in Legally Blonde… There are auditions for it next week and I’m almost too old for it… “Virginia” or something like that. I want to audition so badly, but I’m not going to go. “Vivian!” That’s her name! It’s like the perfect part! It’s not really big to where it’s stressful—she comes in, she’s just like a jerk, and she belts a “Q” at the end. She comes in at the very end and she tells Elle how things are, [breaks out in song] “I used to pray for the day you'd leave. Swore up and down, you did not belong. But when I'm wrong, and I say I’m wrong, and I was wrong about you. So listen up! I see no end to what you’ll achieve…” or something like that. Then at the very end, she goes, [in a crazy high belt] “Legally Blo-o-onde!!” It’s like, she belts, the highest note I’ve ever heard. It’s so awesome! I don’t think many people can do it. But, I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to do it onstage. [laughs] Maybe someday I’ll just come out and sing that.
So there’s Part One of a peak into Molly’s musical theatre journey! Have you learned anything new you didn’t know before? Did it bring to mind any other questions you’d like to have answered? As I said at the top, be sure to leave a question in the comment section below, and I will add the answer to the “Part Two” Q&A post.
-A kid who likes to shimmer, shine, sparkle and glimmer!