Alexandra Silber & Samantha Massell Talk First Impressions, Fiddler Secrets, & Dressing Room Must-Haves
June 30th, 2016
by Alexandra Silber and Samantha Massell
If you follow the DressingRoom51 Instagram (and you should), you already know that Fiddler on the Roof stars Alexandra Silber and Samantha Massell are sisters onstage and off. The pair who stars as Tzeitel and Hodel, respectively, talk with BroadwayBox about their favorite moments in Anatevka, backstage shenanigans, and mistaken identities.
My first impression of my co-star:
The Paper Mill VAN! I went to see my high school best friend (and senior prom date!) Michael Arden in The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Paper Mill. I thought Samantha totally stood out in the ensemble and in the Paper Mill "van" on the way back she was so friendly and made a few connections about some mutual friends we shared.
But then? There was this woman in the van neither one of us knew—to be fair to her, the van was very dark and crowded—but she started to really gush about how great *I* had just been in the show. She clearly thought I WAS Samantha...and there was no stopping her! She talked for so long and with such sincerity, I think we all just let her keep going, knowing who the (lovely!) compliments were meant for. :) Sam and I exchanged a little smile, and I think we both knew then that someday we had to play sisters—I don't think either of us thought it would be so soon!
At the final callback for Fiddler on the Roof, we had a little mix and match session for the three eldest daughters. There were four girls scheduled to be at the session and I was the first to arrive....I've been through a lot of audition processes where I get to the end of the process and then the offer goes to someone with a bigger resume, or rather "a name". I was looking over my sides and then Al walked in and signed in on the Fiddler on the Roof sign-in sheet. I didn't know her personally, but I was about a week away from leaving to do Into the Woods at the MUNY and I knew that Al had just starred there as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady... So, my first impression of Al was "le sigh... there are famous people here. Now I'm NEVER gonna get this job!"
Also, funny story, I actually met Al for the very first time when she came to see The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Paper Mill Playhouse. She took the van back to the city with us after the show, as did a lot of the guests of cast members (she came to see her high school bestie, Michael Arden), and two people in the van thought that she was me and kept telling her how great she was and how much they had LOVED her descant solo in the finale. They were so effusive and complimentary that no one in the van had the heart to tell them that Al wasn't in the show and that I was sitting just a few rows away. Twinsies.
Moment I knew we had a special connection:
The final final callback was magical. Sam, Melanie and I were huddled in the corner of Telsey giggling and talking, like the "coven" Bart would eventually come to name us, and we never looked back. I left that audition feeling like if we didn't get to play these roles together it would be like being denied oxygen.
Pretty much instantly!! We both got the unofficial offers for the show the evening of that mix and match audition, and we basically bonded instantly by texting each other incessantly... which we still do.
My favorite moment we share onstage in Fiddler:
Singing "Matchmaker" with Sam and Melanie Moore. It's just...totally magical. From the very first moment the three of us sang together at the final final callback, it has always been that magical. The chemistry is out of this world.
We created a sweet moment in the intro music to "Sabbath Prayer" where we touch our heads together. Tzeitel has just watched Motel get scared away by Tevye and she's devastated. As Mama lights the candles, I check in with her and then we touch our heads together in prayer and it's a beautiful moment.
I think our most memorable performance so far had to have been:
The Tonys. There was something about that entire day and night—the "life event" of it. Sometimes in life, our hopes and dreams for the way an event, a moment "should" feel, and so often the reality doesn't entirety meet our expectations. But performing on The Tony Awards was that rare moment of dream meeting absolute reality, and as Sam and I wept on the bus ride back to the theatre, I knew we'd shared a memory neither of us would ever forget.
I think our first preview was crazy thrilling! It was basically our second run through of the show, so we just flew through on adrenaline and excitement and passion and love and it was magical.
Most random pre-show ritual we have:
Um so. Samantha and I have this THING we do where when we are a little behind in our getting-ready process we put on "Henry Ford" from the Original Cast Recording of Ragtime and try to "beat" the song so that we are dressed by the time Brian Stokes Mitchell yells "I'm ready Lord!"
In hindsight, perhaps we should have chosen the more appropriate "Getting Ready Rag" but...we didn't. It's a very serious thing at this point. If it didn't involve nudity we probably would have filmed it by now.
We are both going to answer this question the same way, but we LOVE to get dressed to "Henry Ford" from Ragtime! Eight shows a week is hard work and so sometimes, if we are feeling sluggish, we throw on some Ragtime and race each other to get dressed. Works. Every. Time. We also make tea in our tea kettle, Carl. Yes, the tea kettle has a name.
Fictional character that reminds me most of her:
This answer is going to crack her up.... Mrs. Potts because 1) Angela Lansbury, 2) Al is really good at comforting you when you're upset and helping you work through your problems and Mrs. Potts nails that for Belle, and 3) if I picked a fictional character that had no relation to Angela Lansbury, Al would never speak to me again.
Three things we can’t live without in Dressing Room 51:
Carl, our electric tea kettle.
The Original Cast Recording of Ragtime.
Carl, the tea kettle.
Our amazing fan art (thank youuuuu!!!)
Grape licorice (don't knock it 'til you've tried it)
(Annnnnd, each other!!!)
Ragtime lyric I’d use to describe her personality:
Funny answer: COALHOUSE DEMANDS!!
Sincere Answer: "just like a tune simple and clear"
AND I WOULDN'T TELL THOSE PECKERWOODS EVEN IF I DID.
But, in all seriousness, "Make Them Hear You" feels right.
Off-stage, she and I bond over:
"Enema with Tati."
I won't explain. Just trust us.
We have a hilarious inside joke that is so vile/weird/intimate/bizarre and I cannot share it here...But I swear, it NEVER GETS OLD. We tried to explain it to our dresser once and she didn't laugh. We still laughed though. I think we will be quoting this joke until we are old enough to play Yente.
Role I need to see her play someday:
I’m in awe of my her ability to:
Take care of herself.
The incredible intelligence and detail she brings to everything she does. She is brimming with passion.
See Alexandra Silber & Samantha Massell in 'Fiddler on the Roof' at the Broadway Theatre.