Tony Winner Alice Ripley Is Ready To Take Her Place Among the Great Sondheim Leading Ladies
August 7th, 2015
by Alice Ripley
Alice Ripley is ready to show you her Madame Rose, her Mrs. Lovett, her Sally Durant Plummer, and her Joanne, and if you’re in the audience for her All Sondheim show (August 12 & Sept. 23), you can experience everything all in one night. The ever-fierce Tony Award winner (Next to Normal, Side Show, Rocky Horror, Tommy) is getting ready to shake the foundation at 54 Below with one of the concert events of the summer. Below, BroadwayBox talks with Ripley about all things Sondheim.
1. Sondheim show that can always make me cry:
Oh my goodness. Well, Sweeney Todd, believe it or not. Tobias and Mrs. Lovett pull at your heartstrings. Mrs. Lovett pulls at my heartstring because she really is in love with Sweeney and it’s unrequited, and that breaks my heart.
2. First Sondheim show I saw on Broadway:
That would have been the Sweeney revival with John Doyle. (I had always been working during Follies or Company, so I never got to see those shows.) That production of Sweeney was unusual. I always see Sweeney as a show that should scare you then break your heart.
3. Sondheim lyric that really moves/ speaks to me:
“I Remember” from Evening Primrose. I’m going to include that in the set. That song song speaks to a part of me that no other song anywhere does. The last line is genius:
I remember days
Or at least I try.
But as years go by
They're sort of haze,
And the bluest ink
Isn't really sky
And at times I think I would gladly die
I’ve written a lot of songs, and I really appreciate what that lyric does. It rhymes but it doesn’t do it in a way you’d ever expect it to, and the images are so rich—it weaves a spell over you.
4. Female Sondheim role on my bucket list:
Well there are two at least: I’ve already played Mrs. Lovett—I was 19 and it should be against the law to do it when you’re that young—and I would love to play her now that I’m the appropriate age for her. I’d also love to play Rose. I think I’m ready to play Rose in Gypsy soon, so I’ll be singing “Rose’s Turn” as well. That song is a #ReasontoLive. When I go over it with my accompanist, Jessica Means, it’s like a mini-play. To me, Rose is Mrs. Robinson—she’s hot. The audience ought to watch her in that moment and think, “Wow, she’s amazing! She would have been better than Louise!’ And it’s more heartbreaking when you see that she could have been if she had her moment.
5. Male Sondheim role I wish I could take a turn at:
It’s Sweeney, right? I’m singing the “Sweeney Suite” and it has “Worst Pies in London” in the middle, “Not While I’m Around” at the end but the beginning starts with, “There was a barber and his wife, and she was beautiful”. Just singing that little taste of Sweeney’s part, I can’t help but have a flash in my mind of an all-female Sweeney just for fun. Or a female Sweeney and a female Mrs. Lovett to illustrate a different type of relationship between two women back then. Wouldn't that be cool to see or try?
6. Sondheim song that was hardest to cut from the set list:
I need to sing “Getting Married Today” because I actually got a note in the mail from him after he saw me do it; it said, “Nice job, and by the way, I don't see a reason why this can’t be your signature song.” I’m doing that one in September though. It’s hard not to do it this time but I need to make sure the arrangement is right because I want to sing all three parts, otherwise I’d be doing that next week.
7. My most memorable interaction with Sondheim:
He did come into a rehearsal when we were rehearsing for that festival at the Kennedy Center and he had some tips for me; but you have to come to my show to hear what they are because it's the punch line to a whole story I tell.
There's no way you can miss Alice Ripley singing "Rose's Turn", "Losing My Mind", "Ladies Who Lunch" and more at 54 Below. Performances August 12 & September 23.