Linda Emond Reveals the Brave Three Who Inspire Her Tony-Nominated Cabaret Performance
May 20th, 2014
by Josh Ferri
Three-time Tony nominee Linda Emond has been rocking our world in recent years. She gave ‘em hell in Tony Kushner’s iHo (Drama League nomination); then two seasons ago, she tore our hearts out in the Tony-winning revival of Death of a Salesman, co-starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Andrew Garfield; and this season, she gives a can’t-miss performance as Fraülein Schneider, a German landlady determined to survive, in Roundabout Theatre Company’s haunting revival of Cabaret. As lovely offstage as she is brilliant onstage, Emond chatted with BroadwayBox about the muses she pulled from to reinvent her Cabaret character.1. Bertolt Brecht:
"Fraülein Schneider" was written for Lotte Lenya, of course. And there is a definite feel of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht in the part. Brecht was an inspiration very early in my career and continues to be. I learned so much from working on his plays and reading his poetry and essays. He demands a personal point of view for it to really work. That's what I found. And there is a rigor and clarity necessary in the storytelling. I learned storytelling from him. And he was so funny, too. He knew that entertaining was a very necessary part of telling a good story. So I go to him all the time, but with the Lenya connection it was a natural for this show.2. A Woman I Met in Central Park:
My boyfriend (Matte) struck up a conversation with a woman next to us on a bench in Central Park one day. She came from Germany as a child. Had to flee. My boyfriend is Armenian so they ended up talking about the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. And she showed us her forearm. On the underside, she had tattooed the date that her grandparents were killed at Auschwitz. They thought they would be okay and stayed. She let me take a picture of it and it's in my dressing room. Her name is "Lore" and her story is one of millions, of course. Tragically so. She is a part of the show for me now.3. The Divas:
Chita, Elaine, Patti, Bernadette, Betty, to name a handful.
Early on in rehearsals I struggled to find "Fraülein Schneider". She seemed like different people in each scene. Sam (Mendes, the director) urged me to just fully commit to each scene and trust that the whole thing would work. So I had to find a way to really own each scene, to own her rooming house, to own those songs. Within about 60 seconds of making my first entrance, I am singing a big-ass solo, "So What". I couldn't figure that out. I kept feeling like I was being shot out of a cannon. So...I went to the divas in my head and heart. Those women know how to own it, baby. They are strong and beautiful and smart and funny and heartbreaking. They gave me courage.
"'Fraülein Schneider' is such a great part and Cabaret is such a great musical and this production is just killer. It's a joy to do every night and so meaningful and the audiences go crazy for it and how great is that?! So pinch me. But I am so grateful to Brecht and Lore and the Divas (!) for inspiring me. So many others inspired me as well, but you asked for three, so there you are.
Hey, also: 'Come to the CABARET!'"