Cracking the Code: Kate Baldwin Shares Insight Into Her Characters from Finian’s Rainbow, Giant, Big Fish, & Hello, Dolly!

Last updated October 15th, 2018 by Josh Ferri
Cracking the Code: Kate Baldwin Shares Insight Into Her Cha…

Two-time Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin returns to Feinstein’s/54 Below on October 16, 18, 19 & 30 with her brand-new show How Did You Get This Number?. The show features Kate and her incredible voice performing her signature songs from musicals she’s starred in, as well as some Sondheim, Guettel, Kander & Ebb, and Georgia Stitt. It’s going to be absolutely heavenly.

BroadwayBox caught up with Kate to launch a new feature called Cracking the Code, in which actors share with us (and future actors playing these roles in schools, tours, etc!) some advice and insight they learned from the characters on their resumes.

Sharon McLonergan in Finian’s Rainbow

What I love about Sharon and what I tell people about her is that she has to be the contrast to her father. He is the dreamer and she is the one with her feet on the ground. She’s the realist; she’s the pragmatist; she loves him but he’s crazy. Have you ever had to convince someone who had an idea which you thought was nuts but you love them anyway? That’s where Sharon starts the play. She’s an absolute realist and she sings “How Are Things in Glocca Morra” to manipulate him. It’s like I’m going to sing you the saddest, sweetest Irish song ever so you’ll get so homesick that you’ll take me home. That’s the through line of that song. This is like my secret actor plumbing—learning how the pipes come together and connect.

Sandra Bloom in Big Fish

I’ve thought about this a little bit because I’ve seen a bunch of high school and community theatre productions of Big Fish— because it’s everywhere now. Often times, I see young women playing Sandra as really angry, and I’m like, “Why are they so mad? What did I do on the CD that makes people think she’s clearly pissed off about something?” [Laughs]

I think the most helpful thing for me when I was doing Sandra was one of my dearest friends in the world is from Thomasville, Georgia (which is the deep South) and I based a lot of Sandra on her and her steeliness and how it was all cooked in a sweet, Southern charming style. I also read this book called What Southern Know (That Every Woman Should), and I’m telling you it was fascinating (from an anthropological standpoint)! It was really helpful for me—who is clearly Midwestern and very direct, open and honest (maybe sometimes too much so!) —to layer on the Southern charm! I hooked into her Southerness more than anything else.

Leslie Benedict in Giant

Leslie is tougher because we’re with her for like 30 years. The thing I struggled with for Leslie was why does she stay in such a crummy marriage? She’s a bit of the reverse because she starts off as a dreamer—a person who jumps in with both feet and asks questions later. In a sense, she’s a little bit more like me because I jump in with both feet and ask questions later. That’s her adventurous spirit. She’s a dreamer who takes a big chance and has to come to terms with it later.

Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly!

The thing about Irene is that she’s horny. The end. Irene wants to get laid and have fun. She wants another shot at love and doesn’t care in which form it comes. She knows it’s not going to come from Horace Vandergelder and she knows at the beginning of the play that she’s made a terrible mistake. She says, no I don’t love him but I’m marrying him anyway to get out of the damn hat shop. That’s her jumping off point. Even though these ladies have very dreamy ballads, you have to find the spine and the real person underneath it and what they want.

Don't miss Kate Baldwin in 'How Did You Get This Number?' at Feinstein's/54 Below October 16, 18, 19 & 30!

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