Five Burning Questions with First Daughter Suite Star Caissie Levy
November 4th, 2015
by Josh Ferri
Caissie Levy has a set of pipes that has stopped many a Broadway musical including Hair (Sheila), Les Miserables (Fantine), Ghost (Molly), and Wicked (Elphaba). She can currently be found off-Broadway in The Public Theater’s production of Michael John LaChiusa’s The First Daughter Suite. Levy stars as both Julie Nixon and Patti Davis in this historical fiction musical about famed first ladies and their relationships with their daughters.
Below, BroadwayBox talks with Caissie Levy about playing badass Patti Davis (Reagan’s daughter), what it takes to sustain a long Broadway run, and how Bette Midler influenced her sound.
1. What would your tell-all memoir be called, and what chapter would have us all scandalized?
My memoir would be called Caisse Levy: Confessions of a Canadian Jewess Invading New York City, and the scandalous part would probably be the high school years—I got into some trouble those fun five years.
2. I like how badass Patti Davis is; what’s the most badass thing about Caissie Levy?
The older I get and the longer I’m in the business, the less shit I take—and I say that with love. I love this business and I’ve had amazing experiences but I’m old enough now and experienced enough now to know what I’m willing to do and what I’m not willing to do.
3. It’s so exciting to have a First Daughter Suite cast recording, and that excitement leads to a two-part question: first, what LaChiusa album have you completely worn out?
See What I Wanna See—so good. I just love all of it; I hit play and let it go.
Part two: were you as upset as I was that there’s no Les Miz revival cast album?
Oh yeah, that was a bummer. I realize they have so many recordings of so many casts over the years, but all of us were hoping to maybe get a crack at it, so it’s a bit sad that it never happened.
4. Whose voice did you idolize growing up?
Bette Midler was a very early influence for me. I always loved her tone and interpretation of song. You could always hear emotion through her singing—you still can. I love that she wasn't about perfection in every phrase; she was about emotion in every phrase. There’s so much character in her voice and so much great storytelling that comes through her singing. As far as musical theatre actors go, she was an early influence; Faith Prince was too actually. The recording of Falsettos was one of the first musicals I listened to. My parents saw it in New York and brought the cassette tapes home. She is just perfection on that album.
5. What’s your key to sustaining a long run, both physically and mentally/emotionally?
I think it changes slightly with every run as you get to know the role and the show—you feel it out as you go. But the consistent thing for me over the years has been sleep. I need a lot of sleep when I’m doing eight-shows-a-week and singing that much. And mentally, connection time with my friends and family—that really contributes to the way you get on stage and give everything you have for a performance. Earlier in my career, I was worse at that. I was laser focused about the show but my emotional health suffered in those years. Now as I’ve settled into my career a bit, I think I’m better at balancing living the life that's required for vocal stamina and physical health and spending time with friends that fill you up emotionally. It's a tough one, and I think a lot people in our world struggle with it. It's a balance you have to find every day.
Head downtown to The Public Theater before November 22 to see Caissie Levy in ‘The First Daughter Suite’.