Theater People – Anika Larsen

This week’s podcast features Anika Larsen. You may not know her name, yet,  but if you frequent the theater you have probably seen Anika Larsen on stage and you’re bound to remember her.  She was in the Original Broadway Cast of Xanadu, she covered multiple roles in Rent, she was a replacement for Kate Monster in Avenue Q and then opened the off-Broadway show at New World Stages and in her first originating role she plays Cynthia Weil, Carole King’s best  friend in Beautiful the Musical at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

Photo credit: Broadwaybox.com

She had actually decided to quit the business the day before she got the call to play her part in Beautiful. After the multiple readings of the Beautiful script, the long process made her assume that she hadn’t gotten the part and, along with all of the other pains that come along with working in the business, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  The next day she received a call that she had gotten the part and she accepted it.  Then, four days after rehearsals began she had terrible stomach pains that turned out to be her colon flipping over on itself and creating a blockage.  She had to have surgery and was back in rehearsal a mere six days later.  The cast and crew were incredibly supportive of her and even said they would have recast for San Francisco but had her back for the Broadway run if she had needed to be out.  If you didn’t already love the cast and creative team of Beautiful you will after listening to the podcast!

She extensively recounts the plot, and B-plot, of Beautiful and if you wanted to know more about the show this podcast will answer all of your questions and more! Carole King and Cynthia Weil’s friendship is so real and they discuss how, had it been fictionalized, it would most likely be portrayed as catty,  but because it is a biographical story the musical portrays a wonderful friendship between the two women.

Her take on being able to tailor a role and create a role when you are the first person to play it is insightful and clever.  The way that the songs and jokes are tailored to the original cast because this person can land this joke every time or this actor can’t sell this song here.

Anika Larsen is a lovely and intriguing person. She is one of ten children, six adopted. She discusses her parents who were incredibly supportive and her upbringing.  She went to the Yale School of Drama and gives her experience of going through the program and actually not being a big fish in a little pond.  She talks about working with her friend to start Jaradoa Theater which is no longer around, but was an amazing outreach program that affected the lives of many people, young and old alike.  

Anika Larsen is a beautiful person, and if you get a chance you must see her tell Carole King’s Beautiful story along with the incredible Jessie Mueller! Purchase tickets to see Beautiful here.

Be sure to subscribe to the Theater People Podcast on iTunes! Patrick and Vonia are the greatest and they have many more amazing theater people coming up on the Podcast!

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