The fifth annual Broadway Voices season is bringing a fun-filled season of Broadway stars to Garner Performing Arts Center. The popular series returns to Garner with a series of one-night-only concerts that will be filled with excitement, amusement, and awesome entertainment as three of the most popular Broadway stars present their particular brand of performance.
The sparks were real when Gary Mauer and Elizabeth Southard took the Broadway stage as the Phantom and Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. Their electricity on stage was genuine. The husband and wife met while working on a cruise ship, playing a pair of newlyweds in New York Honeymoon. They later married. Mauer has played both the Phantom and Raoul opposite Southard and they were cast together as Gaylord Ravenal and Magnolia Hawks in Harold Prince’s Showboat.
Throughout their evening at the Garner Performing Arts Center, they filled the room with beautiful melodies of Broadway tunes. Paying tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, Mauer and Southard sang a medley of Richard Rogers songs such as “Hello, Young Lovers” and “Some Enchanted Evening,” all of which were arranged by Hamlisch. They also sang some of their favorite Christmas songs, including “O Holy Night” and a parody of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
Lucky for us, we got a chance to sit down with them to talk about their successful careers.
Martha: How did you each get started?
Gary Mauer: Well, you all know networking is key, and it’s about who you know. I can literally trace most of my career back to when I was working on the cruise ship where I met my beautiful wife here, a theatre that I had worked out previously was doing Jesus Christ Superstar. I had previously been in the ensemble, but I wanted to play Jesus, I was working on the cruise ship and couldn’t go to the audition. Well, she convinced me to make a cassette recording to send in as an audition. She convinced me through, much pain and nagging, to make a cassette recording and send it in. I thought that was just crazy and no one was going to hire me. Long story short, I got the job and the guy who played Judas opposite me was an established Broadway actor.
This was the beginning of my career. I was still in Tuscon, AZ, I had just graduated from college and I had done cruise ship jobs and summer stock work but I hadn’t done anything big. This fella opposite me was a great guy and after our production was over he went back to New York and was in an audition talking to the casting director about what he had been doing and my name happened to come up. The casting director said “oh we’d love to see him , can you hook us up with this guy.
Lawrence called me and asked if he could give them my number and I said of course! They called me for the show they were currently putting together, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. So I booked that show. But, the casting director for that show happened to also be the casting director for Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. So basically I can see the genesis of my whole career from that moment when I got into superstar.
Elizabeth Southard: I don’t have a clear delineation like that. But my equity card story is a funny. There’s the conundrum of you can’t get your equity card until you’re in an equity show and you can’t be in an equity show until, you have your equity card. So I had done cruise ship and toured around Europe, and I was working at a gym in the city and I had auditioned for s couple of who’s but hadn’t been cast. Theatre By The Sea in Rhode Isand called me because they had seen that’d I had played Christine in the Ken Hill Phantom in Germany. Their Christine had been hurt and they asked if I could be there soon. I was feeling cocky so I said I could be there tomorrow if they would give me my equity card and they said they’d call me back. About 20 minutes later I hit a phone call saying yeah we’ll see you in the morning. So I went there and rehearsed for four days and went on and had never done that phantom before. So I got my card and starting working in the city. Before that I was more toward opera.
Sarah: What is the greatest reward of performing with your spouse?
GM: Save on hotel rooms (laughs). No, it’s that little extra bit of chemistry or comfort that we have. We’re trained to act with complete strangers or almost complete strangers and to have that extra element of somebody that you know really well is just fun.
ES: Yeah, I think it makes it more fun and easier to rehearse because you know where to find each other.
GM: Sometimes it’s good therapy too because we would go through life and while we were on tour with Phantom we’d have our kids and stuff happens and you get crazed and crabby at each other, but no matter where we were in our personal lfe prior to each show I knew that every show I cod get out there and basically seduce her all over again in “Music of the Night”.
ES: And forget all about life and lose yourself.
M: What is your favorite song to perform together?
ES: My favorite is a Show Boat Medley we do.
GM: I like doing “All I Ask of You” because we did it when I was Raoul and the when I was Phantom I hit yo listen to her do it… With another man.
M: What are your dream roles that you’d like to play together?
ES: We think about doing Next To Normal. That’d be fun. There’s a great parody song on YouTube about a woman who doesn’t know what it’s about and sees it and in the end she ends up saying “who knew we’d fall in love with it?”
GM: We both would love to be in Ragtime. It’s a dream show just to be in the show. I would be father which is a wonderful role but it’s a smaller roll.
S: What was it like to perform as The Phantom and Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show and what was it like playing Raoul and Christine, especially since you’re married?
SM: I’m a full Christine – Phantom shipper.
GM: Chrsitine – Phantom whater?
SM: Shipper, just go figure it out. My daughter’s like “Mom, you’re fleek man”. You you played Raoul yeah it was fun, but I don’t think that relationship is anything and it’s what Christine is expected to do but that’s not where her heart lies. Whoever was playing the Phantom, that’s where my focus went.
GM: Compared to the passion that the Phantom and Christine’s story evokes, Raoul can sometimes seem like just a prop. And so maybe when I played Raoul because of our history and chemistry I’d like to think that he was more than a prop, that what we shared in those characters was more real than it can be in other times because it is so much about the Phantom and Christine, and it should be.
S: That being said. Would you want to go on to do Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sequel?
GM: We saw it when they broadcast the Australian show. I rather liked it. In a way, it was strange because some of the Phantom melodies were woven into the new score and it was kind of odd because we know the show so well after having done it for so many years on and off. Once we got past that I enjoyed it, I didn’t think it was a perfect piece, but it was fun and there’s the music, that song the Phantom gets to sing (“‘Til I Hear You Sing”).
S: What is the best advice you have ever been given or would give to aspiring performers?
GM: For me it was probably to make that cassette tape.
SM: You can’t worry about what other people think. You have a certain product, everyone is individual and this is what we sell. You have to realize that everyone has their own gift. Don’t sell yourself short and don’t listen to other people. I think it’s just to not take no for an answer and to believe in yourself and know that you don’t have to conform because what you have is special and no one else can recreate that.
GM: I think the goal is to become the best possible you and not try to be anyone else.
As you can imagine, our conversation with them and their lovely concert were awesome events. It was yet another successful evening at Garner Performing Arts Center.
Don’t miss upcoming Broadway Voices guests Capathia Jenkins and Alli Mauzey in 2015.Get tickets here.