South Pacific's Tony Nominated Star Loretta Ables Sayre Reveals The Women Who Inspire Bloody Mary
April 15th, 2014
by Josh Ferri
In 2008, Loretta Ables Sayre made a memorable Broadway debut as Bloody Mary in the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic South Pacific. A well-deserved Tony nomination soon followed, and now, six years later, Sayre returns to the role that brought her Broadway fame. Sayre stars as the happy talking island matron opposite Erin Mackey and Mike McGowan in Rob Ruggiero’s new production at the Paper Mill Playhouse. BroadwayBox sat down with Sayre to get the scoop on three muses she drew from to create this colorful character.
The first of the three muses really that I used was my mother. Instantly. We were born in California, and she always wanted us to get out of there and have a better life than she had had. Her family worked the fields over there and she didn't want us to do the same thing. She had this vision to get us to Hawaii and it came to fruition.
The second were teachers I went to elementary school with. Being in Hawaii, you’re around lots of women of mixed racial backgrounds, and there’s this certain drive they have and at the same time this counterbalance of anchoring to the ground. I remember having these kind of women around me that would protect us kids with every piece of energy in their lives; they loved us so much. I drew heavily on them.
The final one is literally a woman I met in West Samoa who James Michener based the character on, Aggie Grey. I got to meet her not knowing I would ever do this show. This woman had this entire wonderful, colorful past. When the war was going on, soldiers would come to her when they wanted things from America. And she heard of this hamburger that they loved then found out if was ground cow, and she started making them and selling them to sailors; and they couldn't get it anywhere else in the South Pacific. She went on to own a hotel and she was the life of the party (she sang and she danced).
So it’s all these women. All this color, and yet at the same time, all of them anchored to the ground and wanting whatever it is they need to do to have a better life.
Don’t miss Loretta Ables Sayre reprising her Tony-nominated star turn in Paper Mill Playhouse’s South Pacific, now through May 4.