Interview with Beautiful and Supergirl star Melissa Benoist
You could certainly describe today as "One Fine Day" as we at the New York Theatre Guide were treated to a special sneak peak performance of "So Far Away" by Melissa Benoist, who is all set to make her Broadway debut as Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical tomorrow night, June 7! Her fans will get the chance to see her live, up-close and personal at Broadway's Stephen Sondheim Theatre through to August 4, 2018!
Of course, many will know Melissa from her starring role as Marley Rose on Fox's hit musical series "Glee", but she subsequently - and quite rightly - shot to "super"stardom as the title character in The CW's highflying series "Supergirl," making her a household name. Although Beautiful marks her Broadway debut, Melissa has a strong background in musical theatre, appearing regionally in a wealth of shows from The Sound of Music to Bye Bye Birdie, from A Chorus Line to Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, and from Footloose to Evita, and we have no doubt that she will pass her Broadway debut test with flying colors!
We also had the opportunity to sit down with the "Supergirl" star after her sneak peak performance and get her thoughts on her pending debut, Carole King's life and if we can expect to hear Supergirl sing again any time soon... But before I posed my first question, I complained about the temperature in the room and decided to unzip my top just enough to reveal a more than familiar symbol on my chest to break the ice...
My apologies for the Superman/Supergirl T-shirt reveal, but I couldn’t resist!… First question – Are you sick of the sight of that symbol yet?
(Laughs) You just pulled that off and I fell for it, hook, and sinker! I had no idea… But no! Never! How could I ever be sick of it?! I see it so often. So many people have that shirt… Even people who aren’t necessarily superhero fans! It’s a symbol of strength!
So, it’s your big Broadway debut tomorrow night! When you look up on that stage now and see that beautiful piano, what’s going through your mind right now?
There’s a million different things! All of my lines and all of the words to all of the songs first and foremost. I’m like: “OK… Wait… What comes next?... Oh, yeah”… And just excitement! It’s such a thrill!
Now, I’m going to be straight with you. Before I saw Beautiful, I knew nearly all of the songs, but absolutely nothing about Carole King’s life story..
Neither did I! I didn’t know anything about what she had been through. I knew her music really well, but I didn’t really know anything about her personal journey.
In preparation for this role, was there anything that really surprised you or stood out to you about Carole King’s life?
Well, one of my favorite stories that one of our Assistant Directors told me was that she had this command of the music world because she had such an inner strength and confidence about work and what she was capable of. She just knows music so well and she’s a creative genius. There’s a story about her, when she was 16, going into a studio and making a demo and there were all these session artists – pianists and drummers, who were much older than her – and they saw this young girl get up in front of them, asking “What is she doing?!” and she proceeded to just lead the band and command the room. She’s a force to be reckoned with.
What’s the most exciting and the most nerve-wracking aspect of making a Broadway debut?
Well, I really don’t want to fall flat on my face (laughs)…
I don’t want to go flat or for my voice to crack. I don’t know. That’s nerve-wracking to me. I just hope I remember everything and tell the story well. And the most exciting thing is that I get to sing all of this incredible music that I’ve always loved.
Well, from what we heard in the sneak peek this morning, you’re sounding like you’re in fine voice to me, Melissa. And your “Supergirl” co-star Jeremy Jordan is no stranger to Broadway himself. Has he had any words of wisdom for you?
Not really words of wisdom but lots of support and love and encouragement. He was so happy for me when I told him about this. He was so excited because he loves the show. And I think he and his wife Ashley are going to come and see me in it.
As both a DC comics and a musical theatre fan, I have to say I absolutely loved the musical crossover episode with “Supergirl” and “The Flash”! How did that episode go down with the network and the studio and will there be any opportunities to hear Supergirl sing again in the future?
I know they want to do it again. It was a big undertaking. Greg Berlanti – our Executive Producer – is definitely a theatre person. He grew up doing it. But not everyone is [a theatre person] in our realm. We have a lot of comic book writers and I think they were a little nervous about it. But it went really well! Grant [Gustin] and I had such a good time! I hope we get to do another one!
Well, I was in geek heaven! It was like my world were colliding! DC and Musicals!
(Laughs) I kinda felt the same way! I think Grant has always secretly wanted to be Fred Astaire and we had a moment when we were promenading across the stage in these Fred & Ginger outfits and he looked at me and said: “This is so much fun!”
And no doubt, you’ll be having a lot of fun on this stage with your Broadway debut, Melissa. I wish you all the very best!
Thank you so much!
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Tickets are available now for performances through to December 30, 2018.