Broadway Series: Wonderstudies
As part of our ‘Wonderstudies Broadway Series’, ‘The Fame Reporter’ interviewed the incredibly talented Dana Steingold. She is currently starring on Broadway as the Girl Scout and understudies Lydia Deetz in the Tony Award nominated musical, Beetlejuice, with music and lyrics by Australia’s own Eddie Perfect. Now playing at the Marriott Marquis Theatre in New York City.
‘Based on Tim Burton’s dearly beloved film, this hilarious musical tells the story of Lydia Deetz, a strange and unusual teenager whose whole life changes when she meets a recently deceased couple and a demon with a thing for stripes. With an irreverent book, an astonishing set, and a score that’s out of this Netherworld, BEETLEJUICE is “A FEAST FOR THE EYES AND SOUL!” (Entertainment Weekly). And under its uproarious surface (six feet under, to be exact), it’s a remarkably touching show about family, love, and making the most of every Day-O!’ – Credit: https://beetlejuicebroadway.com/
We talked to Dana about originating a role in her Broadway Debut, what understudying means to her, what it was like coming back after 2 years shutdown, how this genius show has impacted her and more.
See our interview below and in the video above.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Dana, what sparked your interest in performing initially?
I think I was just sort of a very rambunctious child with a lot of energy and I would naturally perform for anybody who would be what I assumed was a captive audience. So my parents said let’s do something with this energy, so they put me into tap class and the normal things you do and it wasn’t anything serious.
I think I was about seven and my friend was auditioning for a show at the local Jewish community center and her Mum said why doesn’t Dana come with us it’ll be fun. I went and my Mum was like I don’t think she has anything to sing and I was like I’m good I’m good and I got up and I did a fully choreographed rendition of ‘Part of your world’ from ‘The Little Mermaid’.
My parents were like oh okay and I got the part and never stopped since. I think it was just one of those weird things where everything just kind of clicked and I loved it. I don’t think I knew it was a career path at that point I just knew I really liked it and had a lot of fun doing it.
How did your experience with Beetlejuice begin?
My experience with Beetlejuice started very very early on. This was 2017 maybe, let’s just say a lot of years ago. In the development process of most musicals things start out with something called a ’29 Hour Reading’. Where you spend 29 hours in a room just going through the script with the director, reading it out loud, hearing the music and it’s mostly for the creative team and producers to just hear it and see what’s working what’s not working. Then you do it behind music stands and that’s very common.
A couple of us who are still involved in the show today were part of that and every six months or so there’d be another step in the development process like rewrites, another reading, a workshop. I just sort of got lucky that they kept me on and let me tag along and somehow I tricked them into letting me do this.
How does it feel to originate a role on Broadway?
It is amazing, I would say its like everyone’s dream to be a part of an original Broadway company and I would say all of the things that were on the bucket list I kind of got to do wrapped up in one show. Such as originate a role, have my own song and a cast recording, get to do the Tony Awards, get to do the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
It feels incredible, especially because I’ve had such a journey with the show so it’s like the Girl Scout is me, in some ways.
I’ve developed it, I’ve created it and so I think that’s the most fulfilling thing is to see something through an entire process, which is very rare. I’m super grateful to have been given that opportunity.
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Barbara Cook, as she is an icon. Bernadette Peters and Audra McDonald.
What is it about the Girl Scout that you love playing her?
I think it’s always fun playing kids because their emotions are zero to a hundred really really quickly so you get to sort of like feel all the things fast and furious and there’s really no like wrong answer because kids will do anything.
It’s fun to play kids because at least the way I approach it is always not to play a child but to play the essence of one or the spirit of one.
It’s a weird thing with an audience, if you tell them you are something they believe you within like 15 seconds if you commit to it, so you don’t really have to pretend to be anything. I think it’s sort of the lack of inhibitions that you get.
Sky (Girl Scout) to me is just eternal optimism in the face of danger. All the odds are stacked against her but she’s going do it anyway, so you got to love that she’s committed and she has gumption.
Do you have a role in theatre that you are dying to play?
In the future, I love ‘Sunday in the park with George’, like love love love so I think at some point in my life I would love to do Dot. Then I would just love to keep originating things but currently I should say I’m obsessed with ‘Six’ the Musical, like obsessed. I would love to do Anne Boleyn.
What is it like juggling the ensemble roles, Girl Scout and what does being an understudy for Lydia mean to you?
I would say that it’s an interesting situation because I have my own feature in the show as well so being an internal cover is always interesting just because you’re within the show already every day which has its advantages. You’re familiar with the space and even when you’re thrown on you sort of have your natural bearings as you’re within that sort of world everyday.
It is also hard because I can’t watch it from the outside which is one of the most critical learning tools you have as a cover or a swing.
That is definitely difficult, there’s a monitor backstage and I try to check in on certain scenes that I can every once in a while because the show evolves too. You want to make sure what’s happening at night and what you’re rehearsing twice a week is sort of the one and the same even though we’re sort of told to go off like the blueprint of what was frozen opening night.
But things changed a little bit and just morph over time as people get comfortable and start to find more things.
I would say the biggest challenge is just being outside of it and not being able to assess all the time. It is a lot of my own personal work. I’m going to understudy rehearsal today after this.
When we rehearse we’re doing a round of first covers so we’re going backward. We do a brush up rehearsal everybody else will switch roles and I’ll be done for the day.
What has it been like being revived less than 2 years after closing on Broadway? What was your reaction when you found out?
I mean it’s been amazing because I think when we finished we just didn’t have closure. I think specifically with our show we were sort of on the precipice of all of these things happening to us and some really cool things about to happen that just kind of disappeared.
It was such a strange feeling to know that the fan base was out there and our show was literally just like exploding and just taking off and then everything just stopped.
What’s interesting is coming back we’re now coming back as this like huge hit and fan favorite that people love so that’s been like a totally different experience because the demand is automatically there and everybody gets an entrance applause.
Everyone’s so genuinely excited to finally see the show. It’s both new people and also people who have seen it 15 times and then also people who found the show during the pandemic.
What do you love about Eddie Perfect’s music in the world of Beetlejuice?
I think Eddie is an amazing lyricist and I think he has come up with really amazing lyrics that if you look at ‘Say my name’, so much happens in that song where Beetlejuice and Lydia had never met before and I just think it manages to do so much in one four minute song.
I think the thing I like the most is honestly that every song kind of borrows from a different genre so it kind of runs the gamut and each song feels different.
‘Girl Scout’ is decidedly musical theatre and then you have ‘Dead Mom’ which feels like an Avril Lavigne kind of teen angst, Olivia Rodrigo kind of feeling. Then you get ‘Home’ which to me feels more like a BrandI Carlile moment. I just think it’s fun and ‘Say my name’ has sort of like a reggae beat to it also a little bit. I think that’s really fun that each song is sort of thematically different and I love that.
I’m sure it’s going to Australia and it’s going to be huge there because I feel like the humor is very Australian. I will say the first readings of Beetlejuice and even the out of town run was much dirtier.
Now we found like a nice PG-13 with a couple R-rated moments. I loved that version, but I think ultimately our creative team did the right thing and crafted it so that the whole family could enjoy it.
What do you hope audiences take away from Beetlejuice and do you think it makes people think about their own mortality in a way?
You know I don’t know if it makes people think about their mortality.
I certainly think that the important thing about our show is that we have a girl at the center of it who’s not a princess or trying to find love, she’s a real girl going through actual real human emotions that most teenagers go through.
I don’t think a lot of shows actually discuss depression or feeling suicidal and all those things and yes we do it through the lens of humor, but it’s still very real.
I think Lydia’s journey is always has always been the grounding force of the show with all the craziness that’s happening around her, she’s sort of the heart and the reality.
Oddly our show is more appropriate post covid because we all went through this like grief, whether you lost somebody or it was just the loss of like jobs or work or connection or whatever it was for you.
So like weirdly our show is more relevant now and I think people are just ready to laugh at the grief and so our show does that really well and teaches you that life can be shitty and you can get delt a shitty hand but you have to look at it through humor and see the love around you.
Our show also just like fan base wise means so much to people and the most amazing thing about our fan base is sort of how many people I’ve met at the stage door who met through our show.
It just proves that you can feel disconnected, you can feel unseen, you can feel ‘strange and unusual’ and all those things but if one person gets you, that can save you.
Thank-you for joining us at The Fame Reporter. We wish you all the best for your run in the incredible Beetlejuice.
Check out Dana in Beetlejuice on Broadway playing at the Marriott Marquis Theatre in New York City.
Get your tickets here
All photos – Supplied