Andrea Martin flew to new heights in the 2013 Broadway season; the toast of NYC, she picked up a second Tony Award for her jaw-dropping, standing-ovation-inducing performance as Berthe in the Tony-winning revival of Pippin. Now, Martin returns to the trapeze as the spunky grandma in the Broadway production through September 21, before joining the show’s national tour for the Los Angeles run in late October. This is also an exciting time for Martin as her debut book Andrea Martin’s Lady Parts hits shelves, iPads and Kindles on September 23. Below, BroadwayBox chats with Martin about the funny and emotional collection of stories in her book, her unique approach to working on Pippin and dining on park benches.
1. It felt like everyone was talking about you winning a Tony Award from the moment Pippin began performances in Cambridge. Did that thought come to your mind as they explained what the vision was or as it was all coming together?
They didn't know what this was going to be! We collaborated and it was I that wanted to do the trapeze. I wanted to actually learn a circus routine so that was the initial motivation. But I went to Cambridge with zero expectations of what this was going to get me, how much I was going to make, what kind of career move it was, and really that's a very rare state of mind. Usually, actors work because it's a flashy part, they will get notoriety, they will make money or it will enhance their career in some way, and I didn't think of that. I always loved the circus and I took this journey incrementally; I never saw the big picture. It was just day-to-day, so I wish I could do that with everything I do now.
2. What was the process like to write your first book Andrea Martin’s Lady Parts? Did you put yourself away in a room?
Three years ago, HarperCollins Canada came to me and said, ‘would you like to write a book? We’d like a book of short stories and essays like Nora Ephron.’ And that was a point in my life where I was on the yes train, and said yeah—having no idea what it meant to write a book. And because I knew it wasn't a memoir— they didn't want a memoir—and I knew they were autobiographical essays, it gave me freedom to write it as informally as I could. I’d wake up one morning and see squirrels on my roof and think, ‘gee this makes me laugh—let me write about that.’ The miracle is that writing in that haphazard way—what I felt and what my heart was saying—we didn't know what the book would be afterwards, but it ends up being totally my voice because there wasn't an area of a my life that I didn't tap, that didn’t motivate me. It encompasses everything, and I think there’s something for everybody. I hope so.
3. What’s so special about the way Atlanta does haircuts that you fly all the way there every time?
[Laughs.] You have to read the book! Well, I’m a fanatic when it comes to getting my hair cut, and I met this man years ago at the Golden Door Spa and I loved his haircuts. Honestly until I started writing it, I never really understood why I fly all that way. And the story uncovers a relationship with my dad that I never even thought about in all the years I’ve been flying there, so it comes full circle—there’s some depth in what started off as a humorous essay.
4. From My Big Fat Greek Wedding to 30 Rock to Pippin, you bring audiences such joy with your humor. Where do you turn to for a laugh?
I have so many friends that make me laugh, I don't have to go very far; I don't have to turn on a TV set if I’m a sad or despairing to get me out of the funk. I surround myself with great friends who constantly make me laugh: Deb Monk, Nathan Lane, Martin Short, and Eugene Levy. They are all my good friends, so I just need to pick up the phone.
5. If someone wanted an Andrea Martin, your signature dish, what would we be eating?
I don’t cook, so I have no signature. I might take out a Lean Cuisine and they can help me take off the cellophane. [Laughs.] My idea of dining with someone is buying a sandwich at a local deli, going to a park bench and talking. I like eating when it’s not about the food and more about the environment.
See Tony winner Andrea Martin’s return engagement in ‘Pippin’ at the Music Box Theatre through September 21, and pre-order her book ‘Andrea Martin’s Lady Parts’ today.