It’s not every day an interviewer gets to offer pop psychoanalysis to a musical star. And there probably aren’t many interviewees who enjoy it as much as Sierra Boggess.
The cheery Denver-born soprano is in London playing Christine Daae in “Love Never Dies,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera.”
After talking with enthusiasm about her role, career and single status, Boggess, 27, tells me how much she’s enjoying living in the U.K. capital.
“It’s because there are so many bridges here, and I love bridges,” she says. “You know, I could stand on bridges for hours.”
We’ve been getting on famously, so I say how symbolic that sounds. Freudian, even. Perhaps you always want to be between two worlds, I suggest. Not commit to one.
She shrieks with delight. A thunderstorm outside, perfectly timed, breaks with a crash.
“That’s so good,” she says. “It’s like therapy. Look at what we’re solving. How could I not have thought of that? And all I ever want to do is stand on a bridge. And the thunder too, it’s so romantic.”
Ever the professional, she immediately puts the notion to use. “I’m going to think about that, and it’s going to be part of my performance tonight.” Boggess’s character has to decide between Raoul, her conventional husband, and the strange attractions of the Phantom. “Maybe I’ll even choose Raoul tonight,” she adds with a cackle.
Boggess laughs a lot during the interview, which takes place in her dressing room a couple of hours before a performance. With her tall lithe figure draped in loose black- and-white silk pajamas and a pink shawl, she looks like a glamorous movie star of yesteryear.
It has been a quick rise to fame for Boggess. Four years ago she left ensemble roles behind when Lloyd Webber cast her as Christine in a new version of “The Phantom of the Opera” for Las Vegas. Then, after she created the lead role of Ariel in Walt Disney Co.’s “The Little Mermaid” on Broadway, he chose her to be his new Christine in “Love Never Dies.”
“2009 was an exciting year,” says Boggess. “I was playing a 16-year-old mermaid who belts her tunes, and simultaneously flying to London to record the album for this show. Suddenly I had to be Christine -- older, a mother, an opera singer. I’m sure some of the takes on the album were a bit too Ariel, but it was fun to switch.”
What was it like working with Lloyd Webber? Was he tough? “No. He’s a very giving composer, and collaborative, willing to have a dialogue. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and neither do I, so it was a good match.”
The reviews of Boggess’s performance were positive, highlighting her rounded performance and caressing voice. About the show itself, they ranged from raves to brickbats. Does she read critiques? “No. I needed somebody else to read them though,” she grins. “So I asked my sisters. They reported the good things. I didn’t want to read anything bad about the show or characters. I’m too attached to it.”
What will she do with her fees from this show? Spend or save? “With my fees from Las Vegas I bought a little brownstone on the Upper West Side in New York, so I have a mortgage now and I’m saving,” she says. “I’m terrible with money, taxes and math. I prefer not to think about it. In one sense, I don’t want to be a grown-up.”
I nod, trying to look like Dr. Freud. Is that part of what loving being on bridges is all about? “Maybe,” Boggess says. “You know what, though? I look forward to the day when I find someone to stand on that bridge with me.”
(“Love Never Dies” was set to open on Broadway in November 2010. The U.S. premiere now will be postponed until spring 2011 because of post-operative problems related to Lloyd Webber’s treatment for prostate cancer last year, according to a statement from the show’s producers reported in the New York Times. The composer has been advised not to take long-haul flights in the immediate future. He will thus be unable to take part in auditions and rehearsals in New York.)
Sierra Boggess is starring in “Love Never Dies” at the Adelphi Theatre in London. Information: +44-844-412-4651 or http://www.loveneverdies.com.
(Warwick Thompson is a critic for Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer on the story: Warwick Thompson in London at firstname.lastname@example.org.