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lördag, november 11, 2023

Broadway Throughout Canada’s Hairspray opens season with exhibits in Ottawa

Ottawa-raised performer Emmanuelle Zeesman performs a key supporting position in her third season with the present.

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Broadway Throughout Canada
Nov. 14-19, Southam Corridor, Nationwide Arts Centre (1 Elgin Road)
Tickets: nac-cna.ca

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Emmanuelle Zeesman is thrilled to be coming dwelling to carry out on the identical Ottawa stage the place she noticed her first Broadway musical.

The Montreal-born, Ottawa-raised performer has a key supporting position in a touring manufacturing of Hairspray — billed as Broadway’s “large fats musical comedy” — that begins its 2023-24 season with a run on the Nationwide Arts Centre.

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It’s Zeesman’s third season with the present, which tells the story of a youngster named Tracy Turnblad, who desires of dancing on the native TV dance program. Set in Baltimore in 1962, Turnblad additionally finds herself preventing towards the racial segregation of the period and battling the unfairness of oldsters like Zeesman’s character, the mom of Tracey’s finest pal.

However the position that’s actually created a flashpoint is that of Tracy’s mom, Edna. Written for a person in drag, it’s defying the rising anti-trans sentiment throughout North America, and forcing the present to evaluation its safety protocol.

On this interview, edited for size and readability, Zeesman talks about her theatre roots in Ottawa, her position in Hairspray and the renewed significance of the present’s message of inclusivity. You’ll additionally be taught what she considered that first Broadway present she noticed as a baby.

Emmanelle Zeesman
It’s a thrill for Ottawa-raised performer Emmanuelle Zeesman to be returning to her hometown as a part of the forged of the Broadway Throughout Canada touring manufacturing of Hairspray, Nov. 14-19 on the Nationwide Arts Centre. Picture by Equipped

Q: Inform me about your position because the “feminine authority determine.”

A: I get to play three completely different individuals. My predominant position is Prudy Pingleton, however then I additionally do the cameos of the fitness center trainer and the matron. My predominant character is type of a horrible human at first, however I’m additionally the character that modifications her thoughts. I take into account myself unbelievably fortunate as a result of this can be a position that has a whole lot of improvisational alternatives. I get to scat sing and I get to give you an area reference in each metropolis.

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Q: Your third season with the present is beginning in Ottawa. How large of a deal is that for you?

A: It’s very thrilling for me as a result of I haven’t carried out at dwelling in Ottawa for a really very long time. I’m going to Ottawa on a regular basis as a result of my mother and father and associates are there, however what I’m actually enthusiastic about is that outdated theatre lecturers of mine are going to come back to the present. Individuals who haven’t seen me carry out since I used to be 12 are going to come back to the present. I’m additionally actually excited to have my forged go to Ottawa. We’ve a day without work, and I simply can’t await them to see how clear Canada is and the way good individuals might be.

Q: Was Ottawa a very good musical-theatre coaching floor for you?

A: Yeah. My first expertise was seeing Cats on the NAC, and I hated it. However the subsequent yr my father introduced me to Les Mis and I fell in love. I memorized the complete present, and that’s when my dad stated, ‘Let’s discover her some lessons.’ I began at New Star Kids’s Theatre firm once I was about 10. After which I did the vocal program at De La Salle (highschool). Then I went off to the College of Windsor for the musical theatre program.

Q: After college, you spent a number of years with Ottawa’s longest-running Shakespeare firm. How did that inform your work?

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A: I discovered a lot from a Firm of Fools. My first present was Midsummer Night time’s Dream, then I turned one among their resident individuals for eight years, I believe. I choreographed their exhibits and did musical path. We had been doing clowning, bouffon, commedia dell’arte and every kind of bodily comedy stuff. I really feel like every thing I discovered at dwelling, plus my musical theatre coaching, all got here collectively for me on this position in Hairspray. I really feel actually if I had simply moved to New York proper after college that I might have given up. I believe it could have been so overwhelming for me.

Q: Why did you progress to New York if you did?

A: I’m married to essentially the most great man (David Hersh) on this planet, and I’ve a good looking stepdaughter. We stayed in Ottawa till she went off to school. When she went, it was ‘Nicely, now or by no means,’ so we actually simply received into the automotive with out a place to stay or something, and drove throughout the border saying we gotta do that. That was 10 years in the past on Sept. 15.

Q: How was your preliminary expertise within the Huge Apple?

A: It was so scary. It took me two months to even get into an audition room as a result of the principles had been so completely different. The primary day I couldn’t even get on the subway simply because actually each practice was packed and I didn’t notice I simply needed to push. I look again on it now and it was such a loopy factor. I believe I auditioned for a complete yr with out getting something. It wasn’t till my large break with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Wizard of Oz that issues actually modified for me. It took a very long time and it was onerous, however utterly price it.

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Q: Let’s get again to Hairspray. How is it holding up in 2023?

A: It’s unhappy to say this, but it surely’s nearly extra necessary now than it’s ever been. It simply hits dwelling. I don’t assume racism is sort of as robust in Canada, however being within the Southern States, among the issues I’ve heard and seen are heart-breaking. We even have individuals in drag, and that’s a extremely large level of rivalry.

Q: Have there been protests?

A: Yup. We received protests. Our lead, Andrew Levitt (also referred to as drag queen Nina West), received loss of life threats. Generally we have to use alternate exits or discuss shooter exit methods. Fortunately everybody has been secure however now we have had additional safety, relying on the place we’re and what the local weather is. It hasn’t been simple, however I’m actually pleased with all of us for doing this as a result of these audiences want it. Everybody begins getting up and dancing, some individuals are crying. It’s necessary.

Q: The present is on the highway till June 30 subsequent yr. How do you handle the journey?

A: My husband is the merch supervisor so we get to tour collectively, which makes all of the distinction on this planet to me. Lots of people really feel like they’re taking a break from their actual life to go on tour, and I’m like, ‘That is my actual life,’ as a result of we make our Airbnbs our dwelling. I really feel like I’m on trip with my husband and I get to do a present that I really like.

Q: What’s subsequent for you? A fourth season?

A: I haven’t the slightest thought. Audition season will begin in all probability in March, and so I’ll see what’s on the market. I’ll audition as a lot as I can. Having executed over 500 (Hairspray) exhibits, I believe it’s time for me to maneuver on. However I would change my thoughts. On this enterprise, we kinda must be okay with last-minute selections and the up-in-the-air-ness of all of it.


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