After standout turns in mega-musicals like Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Aida, a Tony Award nomination for her role as a sexy swindler in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and a Grammy Award nod for her work as co-founder (with husband Kurt Deutsch) of Sh-K-Boom Records, you’d expect Sherie Rene Scott to take herself seriously. The fans Scott accumulated while in hits like these (plus The Who’s Tommy, Rent, Grease and off-Broadway favorite The Last Five Years) certainly do. But as anyone who’s encountered her semi-autobiographical star vehicle Everyday Rapture already knows, the actress’ take on her success is more sardonic than serious. (Scott categorizes herself as “a semi-semi-semi star” of “semi-hit” shows.) We thought a pair of 2010 Tony nominations for Best Actress and Best Book of a Musical (with collaborator Dick Scanlan) might change the leading lady’s tune—but fortunately, we were wrong. In a cheeky Q&A with Broadway.com, the belter proves she’s still the same Sherie Scott, not at all ready to assume a "diva" label.
What’s the difference between Everyday Rapture’s Sherie Rene Scott and the woman we see on the street?
What, are you blind? Have you seen me walking on the street? [If you had] you'd know there's a big difference right there with me and the who's-it on stage every night. It's only after my glamour team of 14 beauty experts get a hold of me for several hours that I become worthy of all three of my names. In caps, I might add. One glaring difference between me and the character I play in ‘ERap' is that she loves any chance to be on a Broadway stage, especially center stage. She's drawn to the spotlight, any spotlight, while a not insubstantial part of myself can't help but find all that a bit repellent.
You joke in the show about “pretending to be part of the cast.” Have you ever had a backstage cat-fight? We promise we won’t judge.
I think 'cat-fight' sounds sexist, but I won't judge. I'm proud to say I've never been in a fight offstage with another lady—although 15 years ago there was a dresser I laid into for making consistently lethal poos in a shared dressing room bathroom. But she wasn't a lady, so that doesn't count. I will say honestly, and only because there were many witnesses, that I have been in one dogfight—with a badly behaved afghan hound and a very dangerous pit bull. Sadly, the pit bull had to be put down.
The score of Everyday Rapture is very diverse. How did you pick the music?
Dick and I wrote the stories first. We [later] picked songs according to their ability to move the story and character forward. There isn’t one song I set out to sing or wanted to sing for any other reason than helping tell the story. There are several songs I really did not want to sing, but was made to see that I had to because they were the best ones to tell the story.
Flashback to your Broadway debut. What was your fondest memory of Tommy?
The girls’ dressing room (even with the previously mentioned shared bathroom) and all the parties. Getting to sing that music and be with those people, that cast.
What was your least favorite memory of Tommy?
I didn't really get the ‘Broadway show’ thing. Like, being expected to really keep doing eight shows a week, the same thing over and over again, and come in even if you were sick. And I was going through a lot personally, so that's the only thing that was tough.
What was that Broadway breakthrough like? You’ve been working non-stop ever since.
I auditioned for Tommy seven times and that was my favorite kind of music—I had idolized the Who since I was a kid, so I was excited and relieved to get a job I actually really wanted and thought I could do well. But I don't think I understood that it would lead to doing more musicals.
What’s one classical theater role you’ve always wanted to play and why?
I would like to do a classic play. "Straight theater," as we say. Williams, Chekhov....why? The same reason all [the great actors] give: because it pays so very well.
What’s it like to take center stage and be in the spotlight a full 90 minutes in Everyday Rapture?
It's like a train you have to run to catch up to and jump and scramble on. Then when you're on the train, you realize you have to shovel coal to keep the fire going to keep the engine running. (I would prefer it were a solar powered train, but oh well). Then you realize it feels good to work hard and the other folks riding the rail are great, and you start to relax and enjoy the work. Next thing you know, you have to jump off while the train’s still moving. And then you catch the train all over again the next day.
What role or performance are you most proud of?
I'm genetically pre-disposed to be incapable of feeling pride. It's not something I'm proud of.
You’re a real-deal working mom and wife. First: How did [husband Kurt Deutsch] win you over?
Being fun and funny, and loving what he was doing. Wait—I can't tell you what he did to win me over! I don't even know you! And also, isn't it illegal to print things like that online?
What’s the best part of being married?
Someone knows how to work the DVR.
What’s your favorite part of being a mother?
I can't choose one favorite thing. Same goes for being married, obviously, which is why I gave that oh-so-pithy answer.
There’s buzz about you starring in the musical version of Pedro Almodovar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown this fall. Please give us details.
So far, it takes place in Spain. That's all I know. Oh, and David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane, the composer and book writer, are converting to Catholicism. [Director] Bart Sher is making them. He says it's for “research,” but Jeffrey says they're converting ’cause “it's just so much fun.”
As a family woman who works so consistently, how do you keep sane?
First, give up the "sane" thing. That's overrated. And clearly I unwind by answering questions about myself. Ahhh, I feel more relaxed already. Ask me a few more so I can fall asleep!
You’re going back to the Tony Awards this year as a two-category nominee. What was your first Tony Awards impression?
My first Tony impression as a performer was, "They're making us perform and then just leave? They won't even let us hang out?" First impression as a nominee having to go on the red carpet: "Oh god, I wish I could just leave and go inside and hang out."
What was your first experience as a nominee like?
I didn't know all the other obligations that came with it time-wise, [especially] while I was doing eight shows a week. And I had a baby. I think I was shocked at how exhausting it all was. But since my son is older, all the shows have been great fun, so back then I think it was exhaustion.
This is an unfair question, but if you could win just one of the two Tony Awards you’re nominated for this year, which would you choose—Best Actress or Best Book of a Musical?
Oh, I love this game! OK, I'll choose....finger! Now your turn: Which would you cut off if you had to, [your] pinky toe or pinky finger?
Finally: Will you or Dick Scanlan write your acceptance speech?
I guess it's really hard for people to get their heads around the co-author thing, huh?
See Sherie Rene Scott in Everyday Rapture at the American Airlines Theatre.