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Meet the Tony Winners: Lindsay Mendez of ‘Carousel’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |


Lindsay Mendez reveals why ‘Carousel’ is so close to her heart

Since making her Broadway debut in Grease in 2007, Lindsay Mendez has played a variety of eclectic roles on and off Broadway. She has shined in Everyday Rapture, Godspell, Dogfight, Wicked (as Elphaba) and Significant Other. Mendez just won her first Tony award for her nuanced portrayal of Carrie Pipperidge in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel. Carousel was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. With Tony-winning choreography by ballet’s rock star Justin Peck, Carousel also stars a dream team cast that includes Jessie Mueller, Joshua Henry, Renée Fleming, Alexander Gemignani and Margaret Colin. The show’s cast recording, featuring beloved classics like "If I Loved You," "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" and “Mister Snow,” was just released digitally and will be in stores July 13th.

Lindsay Mendez and Alexander Gemignani in 'Carousel' (Photo: Julieta Cervantes)

Lindsay Mendez and Alexander Gemignani in 'Carousel' (Photo: Julieta Cervantes)

Where were you when you heard you were cast as Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel
Lindsay Mendez:
I had just auditioned with [director] Jack O’Brien and (producer) Scott Rudin. I left the building and was walking up Eighth Avenue. They called and said that they wanted me to do the part. My stomach just dropped on the floor. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought I would ever play this part. Playing a New England girl is an accent I never thought I'd have to hone. But once I got to know it, it felt so right to me, like a dream. I was just shocked and excited.

What do you adore about the musical? 
Lindsay Mendez:
I love the idea of redemption. I love that someone can be redeemed for things that they don’t do well. I love that they are also talking about children not repeating their parents’ mistakes and that we can change patterns. The show is timeless.

When did you know you had to be a performer? 
Lindsay Mendez:
When I was around four years old, I saw my sister doing Annie at our community theater. I begged my parents, saying, “I want to do that. That is what I’m supposed to do.” They said “Okay. You can take a class.” One of the first times I was on stage was in The Sound of Music when I played Gretl, the littlest child, at the Santa Fe Springs Community Playhouse. That was my last Rodgers and Hammerstein musical before this.

When the curtain comes down, how do you get back to Lindsay? 
Lindsay Mendez:
I rip that wig off, run home to my husband and dog and chill out on my couch.

What was one of the first Broadway shows you ever saw? 
Lindsay Mendez:
  The first show I ever saw was Showboat with Elaine Stritch. It was the revival at the Gershwin Theatre and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was around 11 and visiting from California.  What went though my mind was that I wanted to be nowhere else, ever, except in this theater. 

If someone asked, why should I see Carousel
Lindsay Mendez:
If you ever dream of what you thought Broadway was supposed to be, that is what Carousel is. It is what I dreamt it would be like every night. The orchestra, the stage, the dancing, the actors. It’s what you dream Broadway is.

What qualities does Carrie have that you particularly love? 
Lindsay Mendez:
She is so in the moment. She never apologizes for anything. She says what she means right away. I wish I could be more like that. I love that about her.

You have played so many different kinds of roles. Are there parts you are aching to play? 
So many. Flora in Flora the Red Menace and Winnifred in Once Upon a Mattress.

You co-created a fantastic program called Actor Therapy where you help emerging actors build confidence. Why was that important to you?
Lindsay Mendez:
When I moved to New York, I was mentored by a lot of people. I don’t think I could have made it without having those people championing and telling me what to do. You can go to college for this, but when you get to New York City, it’s just a whole different bag. So it’s important to me to help actors find their brand, discover what makes them unique in this city and help navigate through this journey to get what they want out of their careers.
***
For more award-winning theater, check out our Top Shows in June. 

 

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