Best known for playing the rôle of Elphaba in the original Broadway production of Wicked and being in the original cast of Brooklyn, Eden Espinosa is coming to the UK to star in returning festive favourite Christmas in New York. Nicole Evans caught up with her to talk about the show, inspirations and the IMEAs.
You are coming to the UK to perform in Christmas in New York (7th Dec in Manchester and 9th Dec in London) What can we expect from the show?
We’re still figuring out exactly what I will be singing, but some Christmas favourites, some things I’ve never sung before and new stuff from newer holiday themed musicals like The Christmas Story. I’m looking forward to learning some new material and singing some Christmas favourites that I love.
The show is returning after a four year break from the festive calendar. Do you think the added excitement will make it a bit more special?
I hope that’s the case. I’m excited enough for anyone else involved and am thrilled to be asked to be a part of it, especially on the first year back after the break. I’m just really thrilled.
The show is packed full of big west end names, like Scott Garnham and Lucy May Barker, have you worked with any of your fellow cast members before?
I haven’t at all. I’m going to be the new kid on the block.
And how about the UK, have you been over here much before?
Just twice before. I was just thinking about this before you called, the last time I did a concert there with Scott Allen years ago right when he started getting a little well known. The second time was not for work and was just in passing, coming home from South Africa so I’m excited to be able to come back. Also my Husband has never been so this will be a first time for him, he’s going to fall in love with it, I know he is.
Will you get much time for play while you’re here, or will it be all work?
It’ll be a little bit of both. I have a lot of friends out there so I think I’ll be stealing lunches and dinners here and there. We are staying on for a couple of days after to just be able to take our time and do what we want to do, and see what we want to see.
Coming off the subject of the show, I have to say congratulations for the recent wins at the IMEA awards. Were you expecting to win?
You know, I wasn’t expecting to win, I was hoping. The album project is really special to me and we worked really hard on the sounds and making it a representation of my expression as a person so I was just really excited that it was honoured in the way that is was.
From Broadway to albums, it’s fair to say you’ve dabbled in a bit of everything, what do you enjoy doing most?
I love live theatre and I haven’t done enough TV and film to really know what that is like on a long term basis but I just really love the excitement of being on stage in front of an audience, even if it’s in a concert of my own. I just love the energy exchanged and the story telling aspect and that each day is a new day and a new chance to tell a story and express yourself artistically. So that’s my favourite.
You began performing at a very early age, has it always been the dream or was there ever anything else?
I was always involved in the arts from a young age, I was in dance lessons and music lessons and children’s theatre groups and stuff but there were times when I wanted to be a lawyer, a psychologist even, but I really grasped the concept of doing theatre as a career later. It was in high school that I really grasped “Oh, I could do this for a career?” so that’s when I really started dreaming about that, but I was always involved in performing one way or another.
Who were your idols growing up?
My parents were very supportive but they never pushed me so I would always sing with my dad in the car, always listening to Motown, The Beatles so I really used those as influences, I was raised on that kind of music so the British pop invasion and sounds of Motown. I have to say the biggest influence which came later and really still resonates with me today is probably Eva Cassidy; she’s one of my favourites vocally. I didn’t have one idol that was my beacon of inspiration until later in life; it was just music in general. That’s kind of a boring answer.
Of course you were in the original production of Wicked, how does it feel to see its continued success and know you played a big part in that?
I’m in awe of that sentiment. I know I was part of the show very early on and had a very long life with the show. I knew that people knew who I was but it wasn’t really until the 10th anniversary a month ago and the amount of people that came up to me and said things like “you were my first Elphaba” and “thank you for putting your own stamp on the rôle” and I turned to my husband as was like “whoa! I was really a part early on of something incredible”. That’s when it really hit me the dynamic that the show has and the weight that it carries for so many people. I’m in awe of the fact that it touches so many people and am honoured to have been a part of it for so long.
Do you have an ultimate rôle you’d love to play?
When I’m older, if they ever do a revival of Next to Normal I would love to do that show and I would love to be given the opportunity to originate something again. There are so many brilliant composers who are up and coming today so I would love to be given the opportunity to start something from the beginning and to see it through. I would love to be Fontaine in Les Misand Diana in Next to Normal.
With your whole life being theatre and performing, what do you do to take a break and wind down?
I don’t that much, but I haven’t been in an 8 show a week proper environment for a while, I’ve just been doing my own concerts. I just really enjoy the experience of just saying whatever I want and being myself on stage, so I guess I don’t get that much of a break from performing but I’m in a bit of a transitional phase and trying to see where I fit now. I’m not young young anymore but I’m not over the hill yet. I’m just trying to be better and taking classes and toning my craft, so I don’t feel I need a break as I just enjoy the process so much.
Thanks for chatting to us and best of luck for the UK shows, Christmas in New York is certainly making a welcome return.
Thank you. Oh good I can’t wait!