Friday, August 3, 2012

Susan Egan: Belle, Meg, Glamour and Goop - Part 3

This is the conclusion of my three-part interview with Susan Egan, the original Belle in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast and the voice of Meg in Disney's Hercules. For part one, click here. For part two, click here.

Nina Doesn't Care

Susan Egan's reality check, courtesy of her five-year old daughter, Nina:
Nina: Mom, when you pretended to be Belle, you had a yellow dress?
Susan: Yes, I had a yellow dress.
Nina: You had long hair?
Susan: Mmm hmm, yeah I did.
Nina: Okay.
[pause]
Nina: Ariel is my favorite princess.
Susan Egan's 2011 CD
The Secret of Happiness
There's nothing like the sweet, innocent, brutal honesty of a child. "I played so many princesses," said Susan, "and so many little girls liked to meet me at the stage door, that I foolishly thought someday when I'm a mom and have little girls, they're going to think I'm pretty cool. How naive."

Susan's friends, of course, gleefully fueled the fire when it was time for Nina's birthday. "Do you know how many Ariel Barbies she got? And Ariel swimming light-up Barbies for the bathtub?"

By Susan's account, Nina's favorite princesses are, in order, Ariel, Rapunzel, Tiana and Pocahontas. "It's ok if she doesn't like Belle," Susan added. "It's kind of brilliant. And, by the way, I have another daughter now who also is obsessed with Ariel. You know, it's just God's little joke."

Susan may not have been Nina's favorite princess, but she's still Nina's favorite mommy, a role Susan relishes playing. Never did she appreciate it more than a few years ago. "I was up for a really huge TV show as a mom when Nina was probably 18 months old. It was callback, callback, callback. It was one of those things when you're like, 'This is it. This is the one.' Everything about it made sense. I did really well. And then, the final audition, it was between me and one other actress, and in the room with all the executives--it's the 900th time (I've) done the scene--it just doesn't land. I just went 'THUNK.'"

Susan lost the part and shared her disappointment with her husband, Robert, via text. After a few exchanges, Robert chimed in with, "It's okay. You still get to be Nina's mommy."

Susan's spirits lifted. "I rebounded in the second I read it. And I just thought, 'What a blessing,' you know? Nothing is as important as it used to be, because the only thing that's important now is her.

"I would so rather go home right now and deal with whatever dramas she's creating than get hung up on not getting this job."

Parenthood puts everything in perspective.

It's this appreciation of what's truly important that inspired "Nina Doesn't Care," a song Susan co-wrote with musician Brian Haner for her 2011 CD The Secret of Happiness. As Susan explained, "Nina doesn't care if I get a great review. But, Nina doesn't care if I get a crappy review. And so, thank God."



By the way, the woodland creatures that populate the "Nina Doesn't Care" video were animated by Ken Duncan, the same person who was supervising animator for Susan's Meg in Hercules.

Glamour and Goop

The Secret of Happiness is Susan's sixth solo CD in a busy entertainment career that's included live vocal performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Over the years, she's appeared on stage at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl. She's also taught master classes at USC, Pepperdine and other universities across the country. This fall, Susan will travel to Spain to perform in concert and to give a master class in Madrid.

While Susan's work has spanned from the recording studio to Broadway, from television to film, she's always had a special fondness for the stage. "I like the live performances," she said, "because I like meeting the audience. I like being in the same room as they're in." Her repertoire includes a number of cabaret shows she's done with her longtime friend and collaborator, composer Georgia Stitt. "I'm like her alter-ego and she's my alter-ego. We're in the same place in our lives."

Susan and Georgia share a special bond by both having two daughters around the same age. In fact, their second girls were born three weeks apart. Ever the consummate performers, Susan and Georgia saw their mutual pregnancies as an opportunity to create a new show. Said Susan, "The last time we were pregnant, I told Georgia about a concert I did the first time I was pregnant. I did a concert in New York called 'Susan Egan: All Knocked Up' and it was really funny. I had what I called a 'pregnancy medley.' It's songs you know and love, but they just somehow sound different coming from a really pregnant woman. Like 'I've Got You Under My Skin' or 'I Get a Kick Out of You'--this whole medley of just stupid Cole Porter and Gershwin and stuff."

With that in mind, Susan talked her friend into doing "Susan and Georgia: All Knocked Up," which went on to become a hit in both L.A. and New York. It wasn't long before Georgia suggested that with a few tweaks, their show would work well with them performing just as moms. Susan agreed. So, ever since, as circumstances and their schedules allow, Susan and Georgia take the stage together as working moms. Susan said, "We did a Disney social media moms concert last year that was just like a rock concert. It was crazy."

Another time, Susan was scheduled to perform on a Disney cruise and her regular accompanist, Chris McGovern, was unavailable. As a favor to Susan (and undoubtedly because it was a Disney cruise), Georgia agreed to fill in for McGovern. Both of their husbands would be out of the country, so Susan and Georgia packed up their gear and their girls and trundled through LAX to catch a flight to Orlando. "The two of us had six-month olds in Bjorns," said Susan. "And she had a four-year old. I had a three-year old. Several people just looked at us and they're like, 'Wow, good luck with that!'

"So, we had a great time on the cruise, but about 40 minutes before our concert was supposed to go up, we are in our cabin. We've got four girls under the age of five in a bathtub. They're splashing us. We're in our gowns, in our makeup. They're all soapy-sudsy. And we're trying to get them out and dressed so that the babysitter can watch them while we go and do a show. And it was just in the middle of being splashed that Georgia turns to me. She's like, 'How's it feel to be a big Broadway star?' And I just started laughing.

"On our flight home, when the girls are sleeping, I turn to Georgia. I go, 'It's glamour and goop. That's what we do. We're just like any other working moms.' The range is a little bit more juxtaposed because sometimes we put on sparkly dresses and we stand in the spotlight. But really, we're just a bunch of working moms trying to multitask."

Susan Egan: A working mom in a sparkly dress
Glamour and goop. They define the singer-actress who dazzled audiences as Belle and charmed movie-goers as Meg. They're the highs and the lows, the successes and the disappointments of a working mom in a show business life. And they'll always present themselves in different forms when they're least expected. Said Susan, "Sometimes the glamour is coming home to Nina, and not getting the job is the goop. And sometimes the glamour is, you know, being awarded a big award and the goop is your daughter throwing up on your beaded dress right before you have to go. So, it always changes. It makes life so fun."

You can keep up with Susan on her website, her Facebook page and on Twitter. You can also follow her with her partner in crime, Georgia Stitt, on their blog, appropriately named Glamour & Goop.

4 comments:

  1. Amazing end to an awesome interview! =) Susan Egan is such a sweetheart! She and Georgia Stitt make a great pair! :)

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    1. Thanks! Susan was such a pleasure to talk with. I'm glad you liked the interview.

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  2. Thanks so much for posting this interview! Very much enjoyed reading it.=]]

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    1. Thank you, Emily. I'm glad you liked it.

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