Sherie Rene Scott has garnered multiple Tony nods in shows ranging from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to her career-defining Everyday Rapture. But only now is this Broadway favorite making her London stage debut. Scott is performing her acclaimed new solo show, Piece of Meat, for three nights, February 21-23, at the Hippodrome Casino’s Matcham Room before resuming her busy New York life as stage star, record and film producer, wife and mom. Broadway.com caught up with a chatty, animated Scott on her first day in London to talk vegetarianism, the forthcoming stage and screen versions of her enduring hit The Last Five Years and taking her show quite literally on the road.
Welcome to London! Are you feeling jetlagged?
Actually, I feel great! I woke up, Todd [Almond, her musical director and pianist] and I had a great breakfast, and I’ve just had a facial. There’s a spa in the hotel, so I thought that would be a nice pick-me-up. At least my face looks awake [laughs]!
It’s amazing that Piece of Meat marks your U.K. stage debut.
I have wanted to come here, but with something I was really proud of, which I am with this piece. It’s also representative of the kind of work I would like to continue doing, so for me, this is about sharing the work around the world.
This is a very personal, metaphor-driven piece that steers toward Dire Straits, the Talking Heads and Paul McCartney and away from show tunes.
Yes. I mean, I’m practical: I understand my place in the theater, and I know that I’m not on TV or film and am not a celebrity of any sort, which is very detrimental. It would be easier to get people to come if I was singing songs they had heard. But I really felt I needed to explore this creative endeavor, and it turns out I was lucky. [Piece of Meat] has been very well received.
It certainly has! You seem to be blurring the boundaries between theater and cabaret.
Or even performance art. All I know is that I’m trying to create something natural and organic, that I’m compelled to write, with songs I’m compelled to sing. I grew up with rock ‘n’ roll and jazz, and I like to investigate those genres when writing my own material; it’s about whatever song helps tell the story.
Does a cabaret setting like 54 Below or London’s Matcham Room have a different appeal after all your work on Broadway?
It’s certainly scarier! I’d never felt a desire to be in close proximity to so many human beings and was fearful of crossing that divide. I look better from 20 rows back in a Broadway house [laughs]. But Broadway is also very safe: You can get secure at a distance like that. I knew I had to get a little more intimate, and I was afraid of that.
I’m fascinated by the title of the piece, which has sexual and social connotations beyond the reference to your return to eating meat after 26 years as a vegetarian.
Well, I believe in vegetarianism, and I still think it’s an enlightened path and that if more people followed that path, our planet would be a better, more loving, compassionate earth. Not that I necessarily considered myself loving and compassionate for 26 years [laughs]! But when people see the piece, they will hopefully feel my belief in saying something about desire and emotion and hanging on and letting go—and the painful realization that you can identify with a cause or a belief system for 25 or 30 years and yet have it become something that you have to let go.
So, the show works on multiple levels.
It’s a bigger thing than “to eat or not to eat, that is the question” [laughs].
Are you a devotee of offal?
What is that?
Innards or entrails, now hugely fashionable in London restaurants: stuff like foie gras, sweetbreads, tripe.
No, thank you! I’m not a big aficionado of the steakhouse itself, let’s put it that way. But at the same time I’m well aware that we are fortunate enough to live in a society where we can be picky about what we eat, and that our food can express our value system through what we do or don’t choose to eat. If I was eating in another place, I might well be eating tripe and all the other things you are mentioning.
Looking ahead, how are things progressing with Little Miss Sunshine, in which you have been workshopping Toni Collette’s screen role for the stage?
I’m still part of it. But I’m really enjoying being a creative individual and not doing eight shows a week and long runs. My feeling is that I want to stay involved as long as I can and see where it goes; what happens after that is for them to decide.
It sounds like a dream team.
I’ve been working with [writer/director] James Lapine and [composer] Bill Finn for a year now. I am getting to play the epitome of mom—the f**kable mom—which feels right since I want one day to play the f**kable grandma [laughs]. That’s the area of castability I’m working toward.
How do you feel about the forthcoming off-Broadway revival of The Last Five Years?
There are so many things that are fantastic about this revival, including the fact that we cast Betsy [Wolfe, as Cathy, the female half of Jason Robert Brown’s two-hander] in her first Broadway show [Everyday Rapture], and now she’s playing the role I originated off-Broadway. She’s the most hysterical, incredible person that I love, and I am so thrilled! I’m getting a lot of indecent photos sent to me from her cell—the nitty-gritty of rehearsals [laughs].
And now you’re co-producing the Last Five Years film, which will star Anna Kendrick.
We’re starting production in, like, a month, with Richard LaGravenese writing and directing. I’m so pleased the way everyone involved has honored the piece and opened it up: Richard is incredibly adept at understanding both the theater and film worlds, though this will still be an indie film, given that the piece is retaining its “sung-throughness,” which is odd for a movie.
Has the success of Les Miserables helped in that regard?
We were already moving forward before that [film] came out but, sure, it doesn’t hurt. The thing is, everybody says, something “won’t work" until it does, so you have to move forward with your heart.
It’s a shame you didn’t get to London 10 days earlier to see your Dirty Rotten Scoundrels castmate John Lithgow at the National Theatre in The Magistrate.
I know, but we’ve been e-mailing each other. I missed Sierra [Boggess, Scott’s Little Mermaid co-star] here, too, but I can see her in New York; we’re still great friends.
Are you going to be able to catch [Aida colleague] Heather Headley in The Bodyguard?
I want to, but I have only one night to see anything, and it’s a hard call, since Betty Buckley is also a friend. [Buckley is appearing in an off-West End production of Jerry Herman’s Dear World.] I love her voice; she’s such a unique, singular singer. I just appreciate her so much, as I do Heather. That’s why I need to come back to London!