Sherie Rene Scott, one half of the original cast of The Last Five Years, music producer, writer and performer, is performing her one woman show Piece of Meat at London’s Hippodrome from 21-23 February. Having been nominated for Tony and Drama Desk awards, wowed huge Broadway crowds and won fans all over the world via The Last Five Years‘ cult soundtrack, a London date seems well overdue. Lucy Thackray caught up with her about the journey so far.
Piece of Meatis something I was compelled to write. It turns out the show is like some kind of hybrid vehicle — an electric and diesel and vegetable oil powered car or something… it’s hard for me to describe because I’m in it. But to me, it’s about desire. Desire and devotion. What happens when overwhelming, base desires are stronger than the ways of being and living you love and are devoted to? If letting go of desires is the path to enlightened living, then what happens when the desire to hang on to ways of being which are really good, kind ways of being you, are still just desires you need to let go of? But it’s also funny. Seriously, somehow, it’s funny. And then I sing too. So that’s why it’s like a hybrid.
And it was inspired by you starting to eat meat again after years of being a vegetarian?
It has to do with being a piece of meat, identifying with the meat and the flesh — compassion for the prey, having been a form of prey. It has to do with being honest about when I perhaps treated others like pieces of meat, seeing how devoted I would be to my relationships and ways of living if I came face to face with deep, human desires.
Is it an acoustic performance or is there a band?
Piano by composer Todd Almond (who composed the original numbers in the show with me), the great, beautiful Australian Alana Dawes on bass and a Londoner, Mike Porter, on orchestral percussion.
How did it go down in New York?
Great. I had a blast, pretty sure most of the audience did too— it kept selling out. We didn’t extend ’cause we got a hankering to take it out of town, maybe try a few changes in London.
You did something similar that was hugely successful in NY a few years ago,Everyday Rapture. Tell me a bit about the process of writing that.
I wroteEveryday Rapture[a loosely autobiographical show featuring cover versions] while I was doing eight shows a week of other Broadway productions and then it was a surprise success of the season—the best reviewed show across the board, nominated for the Best Book and Best Actress Tonys—and it was such a weird, odd piece, so it was wonderful people took to it and it wasrecognizedas it was. WithPiece of MeatI wanted to be more intimate; I was afraid of being closer to the audience so I knew that’s what I had to try.
The content of your shows seems very intelligent and self aware – did you always have the ambition to write as well as perform?
Yes. I don’t have much ambition, I think, or that’s what people tell me — I don’t have, like, an outside ambition, I guess it’s an inside ambition? I have a strong impulse to get the stories inside me out of me. And then when they come out I’m there with them, so it’s just easiest and fastest if I’m the one performing them. But one of my dreams this year is to write for others.
You’re probably best known here as part of the original cast ofThe Last Five Years– what are your memories of doing that show?
Great. And one of my best friends, Betsy Wolfe, who I cast in her first Broadway show (Everyday Rapture)is getting ready to play the lead in the first New York production since we originated the show in 2002. It’s also great becauseThe Last Five Yearswas the first cast album my husband Kurt and I did on our record labels, SH-K-Boom and Ghostlight Records. No one wanted to record it but us. It has been very successful and because of the cast album the show has gone on to have a wonderful life around the world. Plus our labels’ mission over the years to record shows that deserve to be heard has been honoured with several Grammy nominations and awards, which then allow us to keep doing more for the on and off-Broadway community.
Will you go and see the show off-Broadway this Spring when Jason Robert Brown directs it?
I will be there with bells on! Coincidentally, at around the same time, our company will be producing its first movie, which is—surprise —The Last Five Years, written for the screen and directed by Richard LaGravenese.
Two other huge projects for you wereAidaandThe Little Mermaidon Broadway – do you prefer doing the big budget shows or smaller, more intimate ones?
The bigger shows,Dirty Rotten Scoundrelswith John Lithgow orMermaidwith Sierra Boggess orAidaorWomen on the Verge, and even the show I wrote with Dick Scanlan for Broadway(Everyday Rapture)were all great experiences. Some because they were happy and fun, some because they were great work and also happy and fun and one because it was godawful and excruciatingly painful, but it made me follow my own path, which ultimately lead to more happiness and fun.
Have you been over to London much – is this your first show here?
I was there in my twenties—I hope I am not still barred from getting into the country after those ‘incidents’ at the hotel. I can never stay in a Hilton again, but it’s a small price to pay for those nights with your homegrown rockstars.
What’s next for you after this show?
Working onLittle Miss Sunshinewith James Lapine and Bill Finn, Patrick Wilson and Christian Borle. It’s lovely, intimate, a play with music and so much heart — even if I can’t do it ultimately on Broadway I want it to be a huge success for them. I need to write a couple more projects too, so if I can find time to do it all that would be great. And I love being a mom so that’s most important.
Sherie ReneScott: Piece of Meat is at the Hippodrome Casino’sMatcham Roomfrom 21 – 23 Feb 2013.hippodromecasino.com