Amy Lehpamer, Nadia Komazec & Markesha McCoy
The Fame Reporter interviewed the three leading women of the ‘School of Rock’ musical Australian Tour, Amy Lehpamer (Principal Rosalie Mullins), Nadia Komazec (Patty Di Marco) and Markesha McCoy (Ms Sheinkopf ) ahead of the Brisbane season of the Broadway blockbuster – based on the hit 2003 Jack Black film.
Amy embodies the strict but secretly rebellious Principal Rosalie Mullins in the School of Rock musical! She has recently appeared in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical playing songwriter Cynthia Weil. With numerous award nominations and a Best Actress award already under her belt, Amy has enjoyed enormous success and playing a diverse range of leading roles.
Other roles include Maria in The Sound of Music (Gordon Frost Organisation), Sydney Theatre Award winner; Best Leading Actress in a Musical and also a Helpmann Award nomination; Best Actress in a Musical; Tracy Lord in High Society (Hayes Theatre Company). In addition Amy played Janet in the encore tour of The Rocky Horror Show (Gordon Frost Organisation), Reza in Once (Gordon Frost Organisation), Helpmann Award nomination: Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and Christine Colgate in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Nadia Komazec plays uptight girlfriend to Ned Schneebly, Patty Di Marco. She recently performed the role Columbia in The Rocky Horror Show (GFO/GWB) which toured nationally in 2018. In between seasons of The Rocky Horror Show, Nadia also landed the lead role of Campbell in Stage Master’s Bring it On the musical.
Nadia’s other stage credits include, Louise Withers and Associates’ 10th Anniversary tour of Mamma Mia! (U/S Sophie Sheridan), Howard Panter/GFO’s Legally Blonde the Musical (U/S Serena) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (U/S Jolene). In 2015 Nadia was cast in Matilda the Musical (Royal Shakespeare Company/Louise Withers) and she understudied both Miss Honey and Mrs Wormwood.
Markesha McCoy takes on the role of teacher, Ms. Sheinkopf in the ‘School of Rock’ production. She was born in St Louis, Missouri and moved to New York City aged 18, she began theatrical studies at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and further studies at The New School University.
US Regional Theatre credits includes Muzzy in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Mrs Rose in Hello Dolly and Mrs Fowler in Edit: Undo. She also appeared at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in SMC Live and was part of the Original Cast in Rock of Ages in Las Vegas at the Venetian hotel. Markesha made her international debut in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, then went on to play Henri in The View Upstairs at The Hayes Theatre, Sydney.
We talked to Amy, Nadia and Markesha about their love of performing, how much fun it is working with the talented kids, what they hope audiences take away from this rockin’ show and more.
See our interview below!
Welcome to The Fame Reporter, what was it that sparked your interest in performing initially?
I’m the youngest child in my family by quite a few years. I think I wanted to impress my older siblings, so I learned to sing along to all the music they liked from a very young age. That, and watching the Sound of Music a lot.
Thanks for having me. I have always loved performing and being creative. My mum will tell you that I was dancing in the womb but I started training at two and a half years old at my Mum’s dance school in Adelaide called The Barbara Jayne Dance Centre. I grew up watching the MGM musicals like Singing in the Rain, Calamity Jane, Wizard of Oz etc. I was so inspired by legendary performers such as Gene Kelly, Doris Day, Ann Miller, Fred Astaire and the list goes on.
My High School Drama Teacher, Doug Erwin. He gave me so much confidence and showed me that I belonged in the arts. He put me as a lead in my first show ever in my first year of High school at that! Forever grateful to him.
What attracted you to the role of Rosalie Mullins and how did you feel the first night you played her?
I love that Rosalie has a strong inner life. She’s professional, capable and quite uptight, but there’s a lot of warmth and fun to her too. It’s fun to let a little of what she is really feeling in (despite herself). The first night I realised how much the audience get behind her story. It was thrilling!
What has playing Ms Sheinkopf taught you so far and how is she different to other roles you’ve played?
She has taught me patience, to stand tall and that green is totally my color. Lol. She is definitely the most uptight and clean cut role I’ve ever played. She would NEVER be caught dead with any of the characters I’ve portrayed in my career. Haha.
What has playing Patty taught you so far and how is she different to other roles you have played?
Patty has taught me so much already. She is a strong and powerful woman. Some may say she’s stronger than Godzilla. She isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes in and lately I try to borrow a little of her strength offstage. Not too much though, she’s pretty scary.
What is your favourite scene or number in the show?
The roadhouse scene. I won’t say too much, but it’s a great turning point for Rosalie.
What has it been like working with the talented kids in the show?
MIND BLOWING!! Every last one of these kids are incredible. It has been such an honor seeing them grow into their characters. It never gets old watching them perform. I’m always in awe, like a proud Auntie.
Kids approach the work knowing that they are not experts. They put their heart in, are vulnerable and focused and let themselves be on the learning curve whole-heartedly. It’s a great lesson for us grown ups.
I love working with kids. They are so inspiring. Their fearlessness and determination is a wonderful reminder to the adults to keep the energy up and to enjoy every minute. Unfortunately Patty has very little to do with the children on stage, so I always make an effort to have a chat and a giggle with them behind the scenes. I was around the same age as them when I made my professional debut as Brigitta in The Sound of Music with Rachael Beck and Rob Guest and it was this experience that sparked my passion for musical theatre.
What performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Freddy Mercury, Heath Ledger and Debbie Reynolds.
Patti Lupone, Ru Paul and Jimmy Fallon.
Steve Martin, Katharine Hepburn and Amy Poehler.
In terms of being the understudy on various shows, for example in your case Mrs. Wormwood, Serena or Miss Honey, what does that mean to you?
Understudying has been one of the most beneficial and valuable experiences for me in this industry. I was fortunate to understudy and perform both of the lead roles in Matilda. I absolutely love playing Patty Di Marco and I feel extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity to step into a lead role.
If you were a real teacher for a day what do you think you would you be known for?
I would definitely be known for my huge collection of multi-colour caftans.
Do you have a role in any musical theatre or straight theatre piece that you are dying to play?
I have a big list of dream roles!! But mostly I’d love to be part of workshopping a new role. I’d also love to do a Shakespeare.
What do you love about travelling, especially coming to Australia to perform in shows like ‘School of Rock’?
Traveling opens your mind and perspective. There’s nothing like discovering a new country and a different way of living. Australia’s acting community is small but very strong and beautiful. Very honored to have been accepted and to have worked with some of Oz’s finest.
You were so charismatic and wild as Columbia in Rocky Horror, what was playing that insane role like and what draws you to a character?
Thank you so much. Columbia was a lot of fun. I loved her wild untamed nature. To be given so much freedom to experiment with this crazy gal was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. I hope I get another opportunity to put those shiny red tap shoes on again.
What are the most exciting and challenging parts about playing Principal Rosalie and what has she taught you so far?
Playing Rosalie means tackling very different vocal styles, which is challenge night to night. She’s definitely reconnected me to my love of rock ‘n’ roll.
If you could gender-bend any stage role what would it be and why?
I think playing The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera would be so much fun. He goes on such a journey and I love ‘The music of the night.’
What is your favourite role you have ever played and why?
In my last year of High School, I was able to play Aida in Tim Rice and Elton Johns “Aida” and it was life changing. No REAL credit I know. But it was very important to me. Still is.
You have had wonderfully diverse career in musical theatre from Christine Colgate in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to Sherrie in Rock of Ages, what do you look for in a character?
I love playing characters with agency. That make bold choices! Perhaps the kind of person that acts first and thinks later and I love playing comedy.
As you work with talented kids what would be advice you would give yourself at their age?
I would tell them to work hard, stay focused but make sure that they enjoy every single minute…because time goes so quickly and there’s so much to experience in this big beautiful world.
Who or what inspires you?
People who stand up for what’s right even when it’s makes them uncomfortable.
What do you hope audiences take away from ‘School of Rock’?
That we all have a little rockstar in all of us.
I really hope that our show encourages and inspires young people to put down their phones and video games and perhaps pick up an instrument. After doing this show I certainly wish that I had stuck to my piano lessons when I was younger.
Do what you love and never be afraid to stand out.
Fame Reporter Word Play
A: The Sound of Music
M: Sweeney Todd
N: At the moment I’m loving listening to Waitress
A: I wish I was a lion, but I’m probably more a meerkat
N: Wild horse
A: Write and make a series or feature film
M: Sky Diving
Go-to dance move?
A: The twist
The last song I remember singing when I was little was?
N: ‘Maybe’ from Annie
M: ‘I throw my toys around’ by No Doubt
Any secret talents?
A: I play the violin
A: Yes. But I’m not that proud of it. Mornings are gorgeous.
Dream co-star to work with?
A: Amy Poehler
N: Lady Gaga, Meryl Streep and Caroline O’Connor
M: Tie between Angela Bassett and Maya Rudolph
Dressing Room necessity?
N: Missoni towel for my makeup. The colours and patterns make me happy.
Place you want to travel to?
A: Write a one woman show
N: To work in film
A: Chef’s Table
N: Grace and Frankie
M: Scrubs. It’s actually on Stan. I can watch it anytime and recite almost every episode.
Favourite song in School of Rock?
A: ‘Where did the rock go’ and ‘You’re in the band.’
N: ‘Stick it to the Man’
M: ‘Stick it to the Man’ – Favorite scene is probably when Dewey meets the children for the first time!
Finally, favourite thing about theatre?
A: The immediacy of it.
N: The magic of escapism
M: The actual smell of the theatre. Is that weird? Lol. Every theatre has the EXACT same DISTINCT smell. I don’t know what it is. The wood? The carpet? I don’t know. But it’s soothing. It makes me think about how far I’ve come and where I want to go. It brings me peace. It’s my home away from home. I love it.
Thank-you for joining us at The Fame Reporter. We wish you all the best for Australian Tour of ‘School of Rock.’
Don’t miss Nadia, Markesha and Amy in the most rockin’ musical. The ‘School of Rock’ will play at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s Lyric Theatre in Brisbane from Friday 12 July 2019.
Get your tickets here
All photos – Supplied