Thank you Lauren for meeting with me! Lauren is a part of the new Broadway production of Spring Awakening, which takes the idea of communication to a whole new level. This show features deaf actors who sign ASL, their speaking/singing counterparts, and some who do both. I had a chance to chat with Lauren Luiz, who is making her Broadway debut. Lauren is the voice of Thea and Melitta. She is so captivating and charming to watch on stage. She is also the sweetest person ever and extremely friendly to all her fans at the stage door.
Joy: What was the first Broadway show you saw? How did that inspire you?
Lauren: My first Broadway show that I saw, you mean like in legit in New York, was “Catch Me If You Can” when it was in previews with Aron Tveit. It was a really fun show. It was the choreographer from Hairspray all of the numbers were really cool and the whole lighting was really colorful but I think, I don’t know,when I go inspired I always listen to like recordings and numbers. I was alway into Broadway so much longer before that, the first show that I saw was “Into the Woods” and that’s been my favorite musical ever since.
J: I love that show also. How old were you when you saw your first show?
L: I had to have been like my first Broadway show in New York or very first show like musical that’s ever been done Ever? I think I saw Into the Woods and it was outside at the Rose Garden and it was cool. It’s on Oregon so it’s like everything has to be connected to the earth and like it was in this really cool place in Portland called the Rose Garden and it’s like huge just piece of land hat’s just filled with all different types of roses and then the middle of it has this amphitheater.
J: Like Shakespeare in the Park?
L: Yes, kind of. It was kind of like Shakespeare but they did Into the Woods, and it was just so great and the environment like that and I haven’t seen it this.
J: That’s how I saw it. It was in a park?
L: It was outdoors?
J: Yes, outdoors.
L: I think I must have been like ten or eleven or something and then I think I was fifteen or sixteen the first time I came to New York with my dad.
J: That’s cool.
J: I have lived here in New York all my life.
L: I really love New York. New York is really fun.
J: Stay, don’t go back.
L: I want to stay but like the idea of staying there oh my gosh it’s hard enough being here with the job like as surviving here with the job but I can’t even imagine. I have so much respect for actors who live here that like, you know, they’re constantly grinding because it’s a hard city to live in.
L: It’s a really hard city to live in.
J: I don’t find it hard.
L: You don’t? Well you lived here all your life. I lived on the west coast, your know, where everything is very come as it is, You know like very chill and this is definitely you have to work for what you want.
J: Can you describe your character in the show? Was it difficult getting into character when you’re playing half of a person?
J: No, the Thea?
L: Well, my character name is actually Melitta.
J: When do you actually play her?
L: Now that I moved dressing rooms so now I sit with Amelia every day and that makes it a lot easier to get into character just because we already have an awesome relationship. But now it’s just we can very easily just sink into our relationship as sisters because our relationship is very much like sisters in real life as well, so the more time that we spend with each other the easier it is to get into character I think.
J: That is good. You guys are so fun to watch because you guys like move together like the whole time?
J: I also find it really cool that, in general, everyone moves together because and half of them can’t hear and everything.
L: They are all really smart people and, you know, and they all have a lot of music in their bodies and they have an understanding of music. Even if they have never heard music before they still understand the beat and rhythm and flow of music and that helps a lot.
J: What do you find the hardest part in the show besides that?
L: Probably just learning about a different culture and feeling ignorant. I think is really hard because I’m the type of person who really likes to pretend that she knows everything all the time and so going into an environment like that where I literally know nothing.
J: You didn’t know sign language?
L: I didn’t know any sign language when I came into the show.
J: You seem like you’re a pro now?
L: Thank you. I still feel like an idiot. I love sign language and I love talking to people about sign language. I love teaching people.
J: The only thing I know is it’s an awesome show. Cell phones, when the uses them audience does it ever bother you? Do you ever have a moment when you want take someone’s phone?
L: Like I don’t know usually when I see I usually see them up in the mezzanine, and I can’t go up there I’m like not going to yell at them from the audience and it’s frustrating like but it’s also like I don’t know there is nothing I can do. At first I was angry. At first I was getting really mad because it was the first time that I had experienced that.
J: Do you see it a lot?
L: Yes, I see it a lot especially in during purple summer. I don’t know what itis I think it’s because it’s the last song.
J: So people feel like the ushers aren’t going to be like put down your phone
L: Which is totally fucked. Also you see it and the huge reveal at the end of that the number that we really don’t want people recording and it’s frustrating when I see people recording that song.
J: That song looks like so much fun.
L: It is. But I don’t know, what can you do. It’s very distracting too when so much of our show is relying on light cues from like within the audience. I imagine it’s like really frustrating for our deaf cast members to have be distracted by somebody with lightS on the phones.
J: The lights from the stage, when they are supposed to go? What about when audience members sign along with you?
L: It’s really obnoxious, when they are in the 3rd row it’s just really distracting but I also appreciate the support. “Oh cool, you have seen the show enough times and you know all the signs,” in a way it’s flattering. But, it’s also, I really want to get in to the song if I see someone out of the corner of my eye waving their arms around and they are doing the signs wrong like they are not doing it right. This is something that took us over a year a year perfecting the signs for the show. It just gets really distracting.
L: The first time I saw Spring Awakening was when I was in 99 theater in L.A., because I joined the late because Lexi who played the harp actually used to be my part and she had a movie project that she had to take so then Michael called me and because I had auditioned before but he wanted to cast me as a swing and I had at the time other opportunity that I wanted to take and I didn’t realize how amazing this show was I went and I saw the show because Michael called me and he was like just come see the show and see if it’s something that’s you’re interested in and I was like okay and so then I went and I saw it and I was like I need to be in this like yesterday like this is the best thing I have seen in my life and then yeah and then I was like I took like two weeks, I took a week of watching the show and a week of learning the sing language from the show and I already knew the music because from spring awakening and then I did it.
J: That’s really cool.
L: But like everything worked out perfectly how I made it to you because honestly I think if I took this swing role I don’t think I would be on Broadway today.
J: Was Lexi playing harp also?
L: She is playing harp as Heidi the character used to be called Heidi.
J: What is your most played song on your phone or ipod?
L: I mean right now like I’m super crushed about the David Bowie so I’m listening to “Starman” like every single day and but yes, I really like Hamilton.
J: Everyone says Hamilton these days. I like that video Rachel posted, it is awesome.
L: I know BroadwayWorld picked it up. That was so weird. But what else is playing? I’m trying to remember. I’m trying to remember. I mean I’m really excited about “Waitress.” I really want to see “Waitress.”
J: You’re excited about “Waitress?”
L: I am excited. I hope to see it.
J: The music is already out. I don’t like to listen to the music before I see it.
L: You know I did that with Hamilton and I wished that I listened to it before I saw Hamilton. Hamilton is so fast.
J: I saw the first preview when I won the lottery and I had no idea what was going on.
L: Yeah. Same. I saw the show and then I listened to the soundtrack and I was obsessed with it.
J: What’s your favorite social media platform? I noticed you’re getting very big in twitter.
L: I’m very big in Twitter. It’s because it’s like so easy to talk to you guys and like.
J: But you weren’t at the beginning?
L: No. I had never tweeted. Well, I had tweeted before but it was like usually subtweeting my ex boyfriends, but now I have like followers and so I can’t. So I’m just like subtweeting myself and like the cast and, I don’t know, it’s fun to talk to you guys and this way I get to see the small gifts that people make because people make some awesome presents like Meg. My God. I still haven’t found, like I have pictures of the gifts that you give me, but like I haven’t found the right caption, but I have many drafts. I’m very excited.
J: Twitter is really your favorite?
L: Twitter is my favorite. I’m bored with Instagram and I use Facebook to just talk to my family now because it’s my grandparents and like my friends that I grew up with and my parents that are on Facebook.
J: How do you feel about the army thing? Everyone has some now?
L: I mean it’s cool like I wish I knew who that person who ran mine.
J: She’s not from New York?
J: What is your favorite thing about being in New York?
L: The food is really good but I mean the people are really cool too. I always feel like even if I’m not actively doing something but I’m always meeting some really creative people that inspire me to do something, you know, I meet a ton of really creative people on Broadway or just on the street or in the subway or just friend of a friend and their just all are so naturally driven people. I think New York is such a survival attitude and so if you have to be able to. The City is great which is amazing.
J: What is your favorite stage door experience?
L: Every day is so fun. Every day is my favorite.
J: Everyday- that’s not a good answer.
L: Meg giving me the letter the acceptance of letter to Hogwarts was pretty much really really cool. I don’t know if I have a favorite. This woman Lanina, I’m really interested in her story.
J: The Russian?
L: Like she is there almost every day.
J: I met her at the stage door. She sent me a million pictures. I made a slide show and made it already and like the next day of course she sent me a ton of pictures at the stage door.
L: She is really cool.
J: I was going to ask what is the best part the dressing room with Kathryn, Lexi, and Katie but you said you don’t share a room with them anymore?
L: I mean the best, there was one day when Katie was meditating and she wanted to be in darkness and so she took a scarf and she just wrapped it around her head, and she was like plugged in to her headphones and she was listening to this like crazy music and humming and we just kind of looked over and started taking videos of that. That was reall funny. That was one of my favorite moments.
J: That sounds really funny.
L: They’re all really funny and really fun people and really into music and so we are always talking about music and stuff. The dance parties are always great are always a plus.
J: When did you switch dressing rooms?
L: Probably like a month ago or something.
J: You switched so you can connect?
L: So I can connect with Amelia. I don’t know just our shows weren’t the same when we were at the Wallace and when we were at the smaller theater we always sat next to each other and we were always communicating and talking to each other and it just didn’t feel the same.
J: What you do like best of your dressing room?
L: Sitting next to Amelia and talking to Amelia every day, being able to like, I don’t know, since I’m in the room with all deaf people I can just plug my headphones and listen music and chill out but still able to communicate with them which is really cool and just being like just sit and talk about our days, like me and amelia and not feeling like pressured or rushed to create a connection because we are already there.
J: So you don’t wait until you get on stage?
J: Is it weird starting the show in your underwear?
L: No, because it gets so hot once you’re in your costume so it’s like nice, but its super cold at the same time. It’s really really cold.