Marian Emanuelson is a singin’, dancin’ class act. She came into the interview at the PMT studios poised and ready to go. She gave some of the finest answers of the hour. Due to time constraints, I couldn’t ask her everything I wanted, but she was gracious enough to let me ask a few follow-ups. Well, a “few” turned into 11 extra questions because Marian is a smart, thoughtful girl and I just really had to know her opinions.
Marian is the Fairy Godmother too because the director of Cinderella, Colleen Petrucci, is super smart and decided to double cast. She was even more super smart by deciding to double cast with Marian and Rachael. I’m pretty sure I’m seeing Cinderella four different times to make sure I see everyone’s performances!! (And if rehearsal is any indication, you’ll want to see it a lot of times too!)
Suffice to say, I’m so glad and so grateful Marian took the time out of an extremely busy schedule to answer my q’s. Happy reading!!!
1. You play the Fairy Godmother, a girl’s dream. But as with Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother is such an iconic character. People definitely have expectations in their minds when they sit down to watch a show with the Fairy Godmother in it. Are you nervous about those expectations?
While I am a little nervous to be playing such a well-known and beloved character, I’m mostly just excited to be getting the chance to play one of my childhood icons! It’s such a fun part, and I’m just enjoying having fun playing the Fairy Godmother at every rehearsal.
2. I can imagine that playing such a good character can be a bit limiting. Disney animators always say it’s difficult to draw the hero because they’re just so good and they come with certain preconceived notions. Has it been difficult constructing this character? What are you doing to make it yours?
It was definitely difficult at first to grab a hold of this cahracter and truly dig in, but now that a few rehearsals are over with, I’ve found the Fairy Godmother I want to play and have really settled into her. I personally think that I’ve found a spunky side to the Godmother, and have made her, while graceful and beautiful, a bit of a firecracker. It’s been so much fun!
3. Celeste Holm, Edie Adams, and the late great Whitney Houston have portrayed the Fairy Godmother. You’re stepping into some mighty big shoes! Have you watched those performances and if so, have they factored into how you’re portraying the Fairy Godmother?
Yes, when I first saw the cast list I immedaitely thought of Whitney Houston and though “WOW!”, and I also realized that while I have to bring something new to the Fairy Godmother, I also must feed off of those great examples. I feel as if I’m mostly feeding off of Whitney Houston’s Fairy Godmother, because while she sang the part more pop-styled, I really like the sense of whimsy that she brought to the character, and I’m trying to feed off of that for my Fairy Godmother portrayal.
4. How is it acting with your fellow Fairy Godmother?
Acting with Rachel has been absolutely incredible!!! I feel as if we really feed off of each other’s ideas well, but still play the part completel differently. We get along so well! (We’re both pretty crazy…) And I think that i speak for the both of us when I say that we’re already having a blast!
5. Your playing such a strong, fun character. She certainly believes in magic and love. So I must ask, what are your thoughts on the topics?
I do believe that sometimes there seems to be magic in the air, or that something incredible happens at the exact moment you’re wishing it. I think that “magic” is everywhere in our world, you just have to look in the right places. Magic doesn’t just have to be “magical” wither. A person can be magical, or maybe a place. Love can also be magic. And come on, what girl doesn’t want to believe in love and magic?
6. How are you enjoying working with your Cinderellas, Rosemary and Katie?
Working with the Cinderellas has been fantastic. They’re both so talented and play the part so well! I’m so unbelievably excited for them, and can’t wait to see them play their part on the Byham stage!
7. It’s such a young cast and everyone has such marvelous energy. Describe an average day at the studio.
An average day at the studio is crazy!!! The lounge is always hustling and bustling with energy. However, it never ceases to amaze me that when it comes to rehearsing for the show, everyone channels that energy into the rehearsal and acts so professional about it! I love coming to PMT and I love my PMT family!
8. Okay, let’s switch gears a moment. You’re just starting out in your career. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned as a young actress?
I think the most surprising thing I’ve learned as I grow up in theis profession, is how truly difficult it is to get a break in this field. As a child, I don’t think I ever really recognized the work that actors and actresses put into their profession, but now, I realize how much work that I, personally, have to put in to each and every line of each and every show. It’s incredible how anyone ever gets anything done!
9. How would you define the Pittsburgh arts scene?
I’d say that the Pittsburgh arts scene in fantastic! There are so many fantastic opportunities between so many different schools and so many different theaters! There’s always something going on!
10. Can you tell me about your experience at PMT? What lessons have you learned there? What do you enjoy most about it?
I love PMT with all my heart and soul. I truly feel just as at home at PMT as when I’m at my house. It’s been great to meet so many amazing people! And I truly enjoy coming to each and every rehearsal and class! It’s incredible!
11. Finally, my end question to every interview: tell me some advice you have for the people reading this interview that want to act and break into the theater community in Pittsburgh?
I’d tell them to not give up. There are a lot of oppurtunities out there, but there are also a lot of very talented people vying for those oppurtunities. Success never came eaily to anyone. You have to work at it and work at it. I think it’s time to bring our that old cliche, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”