Five Burning Questions with Cinderella Star Ann Harada

Last updated August 20th, 2014 by Josh Ferri
Five Burning Questions with Cinderella Star Ann Harada

Who needs a wicked stepsister when you can have a funny one? As the self absorbed and half-witted Charlotte, Broadway comedienne Ann Harada makes a meal of Douglas Carter Beane’s punch lines in the Tony-winning revival of Cinderella. If you’ve loved her as Christmas Eve in Avenue Q or as stage manager Linda on Smash, then you must make a date to see the magic she does in this Rodgers and Hammerstein revival; decked out in a fabulous William Ivey Long gown, Harada practically stops the show with her Act II opener “Stepsister’s Lament.” Below, BroadwayBox chats with Harada about her love of R&H musicals, the dramatic Shakespearean role she dreams of and her Tony night missed opportunity.

1. Between Sherri Shepherd and Fran Drescher, you’ll have had two TV stars play your mom in Cinderella, but for you growing up, who was the ultimate TV mom?
Shirley Jones as Shirley Partridge on The Partridge Family! I was an only child so the concept of having lots of brothers and sisters, all of whom were musically gifted, and playing gigs while dressed in velvet vests and frilly blouses was incredibly compelling! When I actually met Miss Jones at Cinderella I almost cried.

2. What’s your go-to Rodgers and Hammerstein cast recording and why?
This is like Sophie's Choice. I like a lot of them for different reasons. I would have to say the overture to the OBCR of The King and I always thrills me, I love the title song of Oklahoma! and the movie soundtrack of The Sound of Music, which always makes me feel like I'm 6 years old and playing it on my record player.

3. I loved your moments on Smash. If you could join any TV show currently on the air, what would it be? And how would your ideally character fit into the story?
I want to be on Elementary as Lucy Liu's blue collar cousin, who joins the household as the Mrs. Hudson character in the Sherlock Holmes stories: making tea, cleaning up after them, cooking, and meddling.

4. Everyone knows you for these show-stopping comedic turns, but what dark, dramatic play would you love to sink your teeth into?
Emilia in Othello is the one Shakespearean role I think I am absolutely right for. I almost got cast in a regional production about a thousand years ago and it really broke my heart when I didn't get it.  There are so many dimensions to that role and I would love to take a shot at it.

5. Now, a full 10 years later, what's still your most vivid memory of Tony night 2004?
Everything that happened at Radio City that night...standing on the lift with about a hundred other people to rise to the stage and join Hugh Jackman in the opening number, performing our speeded-up-for-tv version of "It Sucks to Be Me" and hearing the audience applause when I entered, thus making my heart and the number seem to go even faster, and then hysterically running on stage when Avenue Q won the Tony for Best Musical.  If you look at the tape you can see us all just crying and hanging on to each other like we're drunk. Which we all weren't until the after-party. And I couldn't drink at all because I was pregnant—talk about missed opportunities!

See Ann Harada serving you sidesplitting comic relief as stepsister Charlotte in 'Cinderella' at the Broadway Theatre.