Interview with Children of a Lesser God star Lauren Ridloff
With such a mesmerizing and commanding stage presence, it is hard to believe not only that newcomer Lauren Ridloff's star turn as Sarah Norman in Tony Award winner Kenny Leon's revival of Children of a Lesser God is not only her Broadway debut, but also one of her first professional acting credits. Ms. Ridloff, who was born deaf, steals the show at Studio 54 with an expressiveness that is as vulnerable as it is alluring.
Originally hired to tutor Mr. Leon in sign language, it was clear to the director from the early stages that her confidence was contagious and she was asked to assist him with advising on deaf talent. Little did she know, but she was being considered for the role herself and Mr. Leon has openly stated that it was hers from the very first reading.
Paired with TV favorite Joshua Jackson (also currently making his Broadway debut) as James Leeds, she earned great critical acclaim after the production's initial run at Berkshire Theater Group’s 2017 summer season in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which also shattered box office records. This past Wednesday, April 11, she once agained proved luminous in the eyes of New York's critics, as the Broadway transfer officially opened in a production where audiences are finding out that it is Lauren Ridloff's voice that speaks the loudest.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with the Broadway leading lady on Opening Night and, via an interpreter, here's what she had to say...
Lauren, congratulations on such a stunning Broadway debut! This must be a dream role for you, professionally?
Thank you so much! I can’t even say it’s a dream role because it is something I never dreamt would happen. Period.
How would you say that playing this role has affected you in your personal life?
Wow! There are so many different ways it affects me. First, working with our director Kenny Leon – he’s taught me so much about life, about love, and about loving people no matter what their flaws are. In the beginning, when I first started unpacking Sarah, I was a little embarrassed about her vulnerabilities, but with Kenny I have learned that it is such a wonderful acceptance when you accept the beautiful as well as the ugly parts of ourselves. That has really helped me as a person. I have loved that.
When you were unpacking Sarah Norman, did you discover any striking similarities between her and yourself?
Well, we both don’t eat veal! (Laughs)
Watching the play and feeling the intense build-up to this extremely emotional moment where we finally get to hear you speak with your own voice for the first time is a uniquely moving experience for an audience member. But how is it for you on stage building up to that moment? What is going through your head?
What our director Kenny told me was that it always comes from a place of love, so that’s what is in my mind. When we’re building to that point in the play, I believe that is my final attempt to get James to listen to me.
And your onstage chemistry with Joshua Jackson, who plays James, is electric. How did you begin to develop such a connection with each other?
I think we started to develop our relationship when we both realised that we were both exposing ourselves on stage. We’re both experiencing our Broadway debuts and he also had to learn sign language. I had to learn how to use my voice for the first time since I was thirteen. So, we couldn’t help but develop a very special bond.
Children of a Lesser God Tickets are available now for performances through to September 9, 2018.