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An Interview With Sarah Litzsinger

By Gary Wien


The Last Five Years is a musical love story from Tony-Award winning composer Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Songs for a New World) that chronicles a young couple's romance ó with her story starting at the end of their relationship, and his beginning on the day they met. The George Street Playhouse revival brings Sarah Litzsinger and Colin Hanlon back to New Brunswick a year after they starred in the immensely successful play tick,tick...BOOM! I was able to talk with Sarah about the play and her career.

Last year you and Colin Hanlon were part of a pretty successful run in tick, tick... BOOM! What's it like to have two central cast members brought back for a different role?
It's amazing! Colin and I knew last year that we were going to do The Last Five Years this season, and we have been looking forward to it all year. It's been just such a pleasure both last year and this year. It's almost like being part of a family. I think it's a rarity when you're working in theatre when you find a group of people that you really adore and love working with.

So you knew about this role during that run as well?
Yeah, actually Colin would warm up before tick, tick... BOOM! with the song "Moving Too Fast" from this show and David (Saint) would ask Colin, "What are you singing?" So, Colin was sort of the one who brought it to David. He said, "I love this musical. It's really great and you should hire me and Sarah." I think David had listened to the CD and was already considering it and then when we expressed interest in it he was quick to ask us if we wanted to come back this year and do it.

So, was it pretty easy to get the chemistry going again this year?
Definitely. The great thing with Colin and I is that we played boyfriend / girlfriend last year, so it was an easy jump to play a married couple - we already had that existing chemistry together. And also with David. We had stayed friends over this past year and we all have a very similar sense of humor, so it really doesn't seem like work. We'd be laughing half the day and coming up with ideas for things we were going to do. It just didn't seem like work, which is the best possible scenario.

What's it like working with someone like David Saint, who is really the guiding force for a theater?
It's amazing. This year was even better because we had already established our relationship together and we could create chemistry together. So from the first day of rehearsal it was already fun. And I think David is really brilliant. He always comes up with great ways and unexpected ways of telling a story. Of course, I was imagining how I was going to do this number or that number in my head because The Last Five Years are basically just words in the script. It doesn't really tell you where they are or what they're doing. And David came to us with all of these great ideas and just made it really exciting.

You've been on Broadway several times in roles like Beauty & The Beast and Les Miserables, how is a theater like George Street different in your eyes?
Basically the money is on Broadway - especially if you're playing a lead on Broadway.

Or in a Disney production...
Exactly! Disney was great to me and they treated me very well, but I really like working at George Street because to me David always picks pieces of theatre that are a little bit edgier and maybe look at the darker side of things. As an actor, it's really challenging and interesting to play. The types of shows that he picks for George Street are things that sort of make you think. It's maybe something that doesn't necessarily have a happy ending or a fairy-tale ending. He's interested in looking at all those different sides of life. I think that's why The Last Five Years interested him. It is sort of an edgier piece. It looks at a contemporary couple and the trials and tribulations that they go through. When I'm here I feel like it's my chance to sort of stretch myself and I feel really safe here.

How would you describe the music in the play?
We have a six-piece band and it's all acoustic music. There are a couple of cellos, a violin, acoustic guitar, piano and bass. There are no drums in the show and the orchestrations are absolutely gorgeous. What's interesting about the orchestration is that they rarely play the melody of what the singer is singing. So, they sort of fill in the blanks. You'll hear this violin going crazy behind the vocals and they have their own voices. It sounds like there's many people behind us playing when it's only six of them. To me, Jason Robert Brown's music is so actable. He reminds me of a pop Sondheim. It's interesting and difficult at times. His music, to me, is unexpected - it doesn't go where you think it's going to go. But his songs are totally singable and actable. You have to use a lot of your range when you're singing it, but I love it. For any musical theater actor or performer that loves to sing in a contemporary style this is the music to sing. I think a lot of people in the community who have these types of voices would grab at the chance to sing his music because it's just so beautiful.

You started out very young on Broadway. I know you probably wanted to do this for a career, but did everybody tell you that it was going to be too difficult to act for a living?
I think that I was really fortunate because I started singing when my parents got me the record of Annie when I was six. I was a really good mimic and started singing to the record. One day my parents thought it was the record playing, but it was me singing. They were sort of blown away and like "what are we going to do?" I kind of forced my parents into the business. I had 100% interest in being on stage, wanting to sing, and wanting to be up there. So my parents started taking me to auditions and I had an agent discover me when I was 10 years old.

It was basically my hobby, but my parents had a New York agent tell them that I had the talent and the ability to do this on a larger scale. So they just kind of went along with it and I just ended up getting jobs. I think I was really fortunate because I had a lot of success at a very young age. And after I graduated from high school I moved out here to New York City permanently.

A lot of people say I moved out to New York at such a young age, but I think it's easier to move to New York when you're 18 because you don't know as much. I think you learn a bit more in your 20s and I think it would be harder to move there if I was 26 or 27 with a little more knowledge in me. Those fears of "what if I don't make it" - well at 18 I thought I was going to make it. I think I was just more fearless at that age and it was probably the best thing for me.

How is being in a limited run as The Last Five Years different from your stints on Broadway, which lasted for quite some time?
Well, this past year I've been doing tons of new pieces and regional theatre - just different shorter gigs that I've really enjoyed. I've usually been locked into things - I did Beauty and the Beast for three years and I did Les Miserables for a long time. This is the first time in my career that I've sort of jumped around to different jobs, but I've really enjoyed the variety of work. Working in a long running show is a challenge in itself, but jumping from role to role is great because you get to explore different parts of yourself.



For more by this author, click here






Center Players Presents "The Emperor's New Duds"
(FREEHOLD, NJ) --¬† Center Players Dessert Theater will present a family-friendly production of ‚ÄúThe Emperor‚Äôs New Duds‚ÄĚ at Center Playhouse, 35 South St, in downtown Freehold, NJ from December 7 ‚Äď 16.¬†A musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson‚Äôs the ‚ÄúEmperor‚Äôs New Clothes,‚ÄĚ the play was written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, who co-directed the production with Enid Bush.
Centenary Stage’s Young Performers Workshop presents 2018 Winter Festival of Shows
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical parables from The Gospel. Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them various lessons through song and dance. Toward the end of the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually crucified. Performances are Sunday, December 9 at 5:00pm; Saturday, December 15 at 8pm and Sunday, December 16 at 7:30pm.
The Shakespeare Theatre Presents "The Winter's Tale"
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run from December 5 to December 30. 
American Theater Group Announces Full Cast & Creative For "Tell Them I'm Still Young"
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- American Theater Group has announced the full cast and creative team for its World Premiere production of Tell Them I’m Still Young, a new play by Julia Doolittle, which will run at the South Orange Performing Arts Center from January 24 - February 3, 2019. Joining the previously announced Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Men of a Certain Age, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) andMichele Pawk (Hollywood Arms, Hairspray, Mamma Mia) are Janice Amaya (Seen/Unseen) and Seth Clayton (The Madrid).
Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ)¬†‚Äď The¬†Holmdel Theatre Company¬†(HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza‚Äôs¬†‚ÄėART‚Äô¬†¬†from December 7th through December 16th.¬†Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play¬†tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.


Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
Broadway is in the house at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts with a Fearless live concert performance by Broadway star, Mandy Gonzalez!
"The Spitfire Grill" and Caitlin Geisser Return To Their Roots
‚ÄúI saw something in her that you rarely come across,‚ÄĚ recalled Ted Wioncek III, Artistic Director at¬†Eagle Theatre¬†in Hammonton. ‚ÄúShe‚Äôs more than wise beyond her years; I believe she‚Äôs going to be a game-changer and a trendsetter for this art form.‚ÄĚ
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!










Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


MUSIC

THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: ‚ÄúThe Latin Side of Wes Montgomery‚ÄĚ @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

THE FAB FAUX A HARD DAY'S NIGHT AND REVOLVER IN THEIR ENTIRETIES @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


DANCE

BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


KIDS

ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


LECTURE

Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ Mainebiz Health Care Forum, Newyork - 8:00pm

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