Ep51 – Leslie Kritzer
In This Episode
Alan: Welcome to the theater podcast. Intimate personal conversations with theaters biggest names. Like I said, I’ll be at myself. I'm Alan.
Jilian: I'm Jilian.
Alan: This is the next episode of the beetle juice takeover month. This time with the self-proclaimed jewrican, Leslie Kritzer.
Jilian: It's me. So happy.
Alan: Yeah. Her dad was Jewish. Dad is Jewish. Mom is Puerto Rican and it led to some interesting times at home.
Jilian: quite the combination. Just walking down the streets in New York.
Alan: Pretty much. Interestingly enough, she is now the second person that we've interviewed that's literally said theatre saved her life.
Jilian: She was a troubled teen.
Alan: Troubled teen.
Jilian: Not entirely her fault, she had some stuff going on and theater gave her an outlet and gave her something to be productive with. As supposed to she said she used to steal and cause trouble and all these different things and she found her place. It gets better.
Alan: Yeah. Well, it gets better and it, you know, it allowed her some self-expression and connecting with, you know, the word tribe. I don't know if that's overused yet, but she found her tribe. She found her people and fell into being comfortable in her own skin for the first time in a long time. But and this is all serious stuff, but she's a funny person. She's a very funny person, you know, now, currently starting as Delia in Broadway’s beetle juice. This woman just feels every scene she's in.
Jilian: really funny.
Alan: She's good. Well her and Alex Brightman on stage, jeez, the two of them, they are incredible. But we got into how she was saying that the show and especially now the soundtrack are bringing in a new generation of fans that are sharing the same love of the story that their parents do, because their parents watched the movie. And then obviously the children coming in now were born after the movie was released and are falling in love with it again in a slightly different form because they've changed a few things. But it's just incredible. She was saying the stage door feedback, it's like teenagers and adults who are just following, you know, call it, call it classic following adults. But it's, it's a really interesting episode. She covers so many things and we bounce around in a few topics, but it's worth it. Stick with it. It's, it's a great interview. Before we get into it, as always, ttp.fm to subscribe, to listen, to rate, to review and show your support on ttp.fm/patrion you can get some really cool rewards and help us continue transcribing these episodes. We started transcribing to get, get ourselves more accessible to the world and that's all-in thanks in part to all of you, so we appreciate it and now please enjoy this episode with Leslie Kritzer.
Alan: Currently starring is Delia Deets in Broadway’s beetle juice. This actress made her Broadway debut in hairspray in 2004 followed by a string of amazing roles in legally blonde, a catered affair, elf and something rotten with a national tour in 10 off Broadway credits to her name. She's currently proving herself as one of the funniest people on Broadway eight times a week. Leslie kritzer welcome to the theater podcast.
Leslie: hey. Hi. Thanks for having me.
Alan: So yeah, you had puppy troubles at the stage store today.
Leslie: what do you mean?
Alan: So you said you were held up by a puppy?
Leslie: oh no, no, no. Actually I went to the wrong address and I went to our press office and I got to meet molly's gorgeous little puppy, which was like a kismet, because I watched this puppy on Instagram and I...
Alan: Puppy has his own, what's the puppy's Instagram account?
Leslie: no, no, no. It's just molly's Instagram account and she has the puppy on there, and I’ve finally got to meet her and she's gorgeous. I think she's a pug. She's a pug.
Alan: Well, let's start. Let's go back to two baby Leslie:. Where did, where did you start? Like you grew up, you're born in Manhattan?
Leslie: I was born in Manhattan.
Alan: You didn't grow up in Manhattan?
Leslie: no, I grew up a little bit in Bergen county in fort lee area. And then when I was about five, we moved out to Livingston, new jersey where I stayed through high school. And yeah, so I’m kind of a, I’m a New York girl, but more a jersey girl.
Alan: So you still consider yourself a jersey girl?
Leslie: yeah, I mean I still, I live there. I moved back after a number of years. My husband and I moved back, and I moved back with him to new jersey. We now live in south orange.
Alan: Is that hard commuting after shows at night.
Leslie: yes. I always, I always want to come back. Now I’m like, oh, I don't know if we can do this. I spent eight years. It is hard. I mean it's because you live in the city Brooklyn. Yeah. That's kind of where I want to go. But it depends. Right? With your train ride, it's the same with us. With your new jersey transit. It's like one day it could be normal. The other day it could be terrible. You know the MTA, same thing. So what is the saying? Three and a half one doesn't the other.
Alan: Six of one [05:34 inaudible].
Leslie: yeah. It's like, you know, my commute is about 30, 35 minutes, but it feels longer cause it's a different state. For you it's a river, for me it's like a tunnel and a bunch lighter.
Alan: Depends on what line I take. I either get stuck on a tunnel or stuck on a bridge, but yes, I’m stuck on the MTA either way. But your childhood father is, Jewish, mother is Puerto Rican. What was that home life like?
Leslie: it was a nutty, I mean, but it didn't feel, I mean, let me think, let me think. Now I’m going back. It was always full of music. I mean, my dad was a musician, so he actually did the Catskill circuit as a saxophone player, but also as an accountant and then realized he was never going to make enough money being a sax player in a band. He had a band, like he was on American bandstand for those people who are listening that remember what American bandstand was with dick, Dick Clark. He had like a band on that, like he grew up as a musician and then realized like that wasn't going to happen, but he was always playing sax on the house. And then my mother was always playing music, she was very musical, not like she didn't study an instrument, but music was a big part of our house. We played all different kinds of music all the time. We were always dancing. So it was a very musically inclined, kind of also very funny. My dad is very funny. So we had that. And you know, Spanish food, Jewish food, all different kinds. My family is, you know, Hispanic and, you know, polish Jewish. So it was definitely eclectic sort of family. And I grew up in a, it felt like a predominantly Jewish town, Livingston. So there wasn't really any Puerto Rican people in Livingston at all. So it, but it didn't ever feel like I was different really. I just, I didn't go to Hebrew school and I didn't like I didn't get, like I didn't have a bar mitzvah or anything like that, so, but I always say that I’m jewrican because it's easiest way to explain it and it's very funny. It's just funny. It's just like, what? So I would say I’m a jewrican princess.
Alan: Did either of your parents, I mean you were raised catholic, right?
Leslie: I was raised catholic. Yes.
Alan: So did your father convert at all or did he just not care?
Leslie: no, my parents were like, hmm, what do you want? And I was like, I don't know. And my mom's like, you're going to be catholic. I was like, okay. My dad's like, ah. And so that's kind of what happened. My sister and I were both, you know, baptize, like communion, baptize communion, confirmed, like all in one swoop when we were, you know, when I was, what, 13 and she was eight or whatever. So yeah, it was just kind of the decision that was just made, and I was like, okay. And then the fear of god was put into me. You will be punished. So but no, it was great. And my mother was, you know, is semi-religious and it was a thing every Sunday and it was nice. We would dress up and all that, but I’m not really a practicing catholic anymore. I'm more spiritual.
Alan: Yeah. That's good. The performing, you said you're always singing and dancing as you said, I guess it was you and your sister and dad and everything. When did you start like getting on stage and realizing oh, I like the attention? Was it about the attention?
Leslie: well, I guess, you know, my first memories of having theatrical experience was when I was, I think I was five or six, we did this play called the crocus that would in bloom, and I was the caterpillar that turned into the butterfly. And my parents’ videotape this. It's probably somewhere, I don't know where. But I remember being older wash going back and watching this. My mom made the caterpillar costume and she told me, she's like, you were very particular. Even then you wanted to make sure you knew all your lines. You were upset with other people they didn't know their lines; you had your blocking. I remember doing a quick change with my mother and this is an elementary school and mom is like being like, I can remember that. And then watching the video, years later I had blocking like I was looking, when I turned into the butterfly, I was like doing all this stuff. And so it started. Then I just think I had a natural inclination to play pretend and to have fantasy and all of those things, like most other kids. But then it started to progress. So it started there. And then when I was seven, I started studying classical piano and I was a classical pianist for years. And that's kind of what I did. My dad was like my coach because he was a real musician. And so I studied. And then I played Carnegie hall when I was nine, I did a national competition. So that was like a big deal.
Alan: played what?
Leslie: a piano. Yeah. So I was second place in this national competition for my age group. So all the different age groups, they would be played at Carnegie hall. Not the big, not the big big one, but while recital, that's the smaller one. But it was a big deal. It was a really big deal. So that's kind of where it started. And then I knew piano wasn't like for me because just classical because I wanted to get up from behind piano, so, and I wanted to sing and so I started, my parents started noticing that when they were playing music in the car and stuff, I could hold a tune very easily. And then I started to want to sing. Then I was always doing the plays as middle school, you know, getting older or whatever. And then in high school when I’m 16, my piano teacher said, do you know what? I think you should start if you want to take voice lessons, go to jane manel . And jane manel was an opera singer at the time at the met. So I started studying classical voice. So for a [11:24 inaudible] and I also sing classical, like I can sing[11:29 inaudible] but I was a legit singer kind of one. I was not belting at the time, like it was just only that. Like Linda and I did all state chorus, all region course. So I started really moving in there and I was like, oh god, wow. Maybe I’m going to, maybe I’m going to go to school for classical voice, you know? But as high school went on, I was like, wait, and you know, I did chorus line. It was Maggie in a chorus line. I was, you know, I did random little shows here and there. Funny story. On fact, Steven Aremus who also grew up in my town, who's, you know, really big musical director, wicked having a queue, you know, the list goes on and on in an orchestrator. He was the musical director for my first community theater production of baby, because he grew up in my town.
So we worked together when I was 16 and I have video of that. That's hilarious. And so many photos. So anyway, so I was like, oh wait, I like to sing, I like to act now. I'm funny, I did some plays in high school. I think I want to go to school for musical theater. And so it all just shifted. It all happened naturally. I did not, you know, I would like drive to Montclair, new jersey and get backstage and like look, but I know my parents weren't like, yes, you have to go into the city audition like Presley Ryan in our show is 15, and she's the Liddy understudy like her parents, like she's a full on pro. My parents were not like that and I’m kind of glad cause I had normal, like sort of a normal upbringing. I don't know if I would have done well. Presley's like a pro. I was never that normal. She's, she's just like on it. I was a mess when I was 16, 15. But yeah, I mean, I was like, you know getting in trouble? I don’t know. I got kicked out of camp anyway. So I got kicked out at Lo Heekin, but that was in seventh grade. I got kicked out for stealing, which I talked about, I do a show, I do a show called beautiful disaster, which is actually about my senior year of high school. And I talk about how I had a stealing problem. I had a stealing problem for quite a number of years. I was a legit upset cause my parents were getting a divorce and I wanted to feel like I have control so I would steal, you know, and something I openly talked about. And then, you know, I stopped, I mean I stopped, but it was, you know, high school was difficult with my parents going through a divorce. And so admits, you know, in the middle of all of that, I’m like, my parents are going to divorce. I'm almost not graduating high school because my grades are so bad. Everything is a mess. I'm going to school for musical theater and I got into one of the top schools for musical theater in the middle of all that craziness. I said, I’m going to CCM. That's where faith prince went. That's where I’m going. And I know faith prince because of guys and dolls at the time looked at that playbill, I saw where she went, and I had my mind made up and I auditioned, and I got in. I mean it was a miracle because really, and this show that I do, beautiful disaster goes all through that senior year. I play all the characters, like all these people that I went to school with, the teachers and how I literally passed by like a perfect [14:35 inaudible] right? I just made it because I had done so terribly and it wasn't, it wasn't that I wasn't smart, it was just that I just had not applied myself of that word applied yourself. And I was going through a tough time and all I wanted to do was perform mean when I say that, like theater kind of saved me. It was true because I could have wound up very having a very different life. So that's a really long answer. I went through like whole, but that's kind of generally what happened. And then the rest is history. And then I went to school and I stopped stealing.
Alan: When you first said that I thought it, I thought it was like a one of a jokey thing. Like I want to impress my friends. But no, there was like a, a real psychological need.
Leslie:, I wanted, I mean if we're going to like to get deep for two seconds, like for as a kid, you know, when my parents were going through a lot, it was very difficult. It was on many years of difficult relationship that they had. It was the only one of the few things and thank god it wasn't drugs or anything else that you know, you can act out with. I felt like I had control. Like I felt like everything at home is falling apart. So the one thing I could do is take something from someone else and that's so wrong. It's terrible. But I have, it took me many, many years to actually feel like, forgive myself for doing all those things and I’ve done things in order to repair that for myself. I've given back a lot. I've given money to charity. I've done many, many good things to even as an adult, you know, you think, oh, seventh grade, you're in seventh grade. And I’m like, oh, I still feel bad about it, but I’ve done things in order to forgive myself from those times because I was a kid. I mean you know, even 16, 17, your kid, you know, especially if you're going through difficult times. So I’ve done many things in order to like to let go of that. So now as a 42-year-old woman, I don't feel bad anymore because I know I’ve done a lot of good things in the world. So you have to learn from that.
Alan: For the catholic guilt [16:37 inaudible] in a little bit.
Leslie: oh god. But you know, it's anyone. I always believe that people can redo, you know, like they can learn from things if they choose to.
Alan: Well change. You're not, you're not going to keep the same friends when you're changing. And sometimes a lot of times if you're in a bad situation, that's for the better because you want to go to a different place that is a better place.
Leslie: right. It all informed everything that I do now. I mean, I don't think I’d change anything. It's just like you can't really, so why even think that way? I think everything was supposed to happen exactly the way it did. You know, maybe if my parents were like super great and everything was good, I would've been like you know what? I'm going to go to brown or something. They were like, you know, I don't want to do theater. I want to, I’m going to do great in school now and I’m going to go and get a liberal art major or whatever. But it didn't happen that way. Like maybe everything was supposed to happen exactly. Now I’m not promoting, don't do it on school at all. I'm actually saying don't do my career if, unless like if you want to do what I do, great. Make sure it's the only thing that you do, and you don't want to do anything else. I never say get into this career unless you really, really want it. So I guess I wanted it bad enough.
Alan: Well that's what somebody told me they were like, if you can see yourself doing anything else, do that because this is one of the worst businesses there is.
Leslie: it's so hard. I mean, it's so great. I always tell kids like [18:02 inaudible] and like this is amazing. Our world that we live in is the craziest, most unique, amazing job. And it's also the hardest. Then it can, you know, chew you up and spit you out in every aspect and you know, from, from producing to being an actor to just anything. It's just so fickle and uncertain. But the rewards of it can be amazing.
Alan: Yeah. And well, you got to be strong enough in so much as that you have to handle all the rejection because there is tons of rejection because all you see like we see you like you're on stage now in beetle juice and you know this credit, this credit, this credit. But there's all those times in between.
Leslie: oh and even within beetle juice, even within it even, you know, going through three years of developing the show, you know, you constantly have to weather things. Like when you know, you don't necessarily always, and I’m just saying like generally you do a show, you want award nominations or you want great reviews or you want this, then you'd think you're doing the best work of your life and you don't get this or you don't get that and you're like, wait, is it me? Did I do something wrong? No, it's sometimes there's no, there's, it's like the way the wind blows sometimes. Then you'll be doing a show where you're like, I’m okay in the show. And then you get every, you get all these awards and you get all these revisions or like I think I’m terrible in the show, but people love me. Okay. But you know what I mean. It's truly, it's crazy. It's crazy. I read all of them. I read all of every other shows’ reviews. I read all of my reviews. I find it interesting. I like to be knowledgeable about how things are going. I will look at grosses. I look all, I’m at the point in my career where I’m like, cool, you don't like me, great. You like me. Awesome. Can't control it. Five years ago maybe like I would have been crawling on the floor if I got a bad review. But now it's, I really kind of like go, well it's just your opinion. I still have my job, you know, as long as I feel I can go to bed at night going, I’m literally doing the best I can possibly do every single show at the highest level that I can do it for that day. I don't care what anyone thinks because I can’t really control anyone thinks. I mean, none of us can.
Alan: right. Did you when you used to read better reviews, did you try to adjust your performance after that or how did that affect you?
Leslie: and I shouldn't say like, if I don't read it, like if I got to weird review now or someone says something, it doesn't like twinge me. Of course. Like I’m a human being, but no I don't because I honor what the director and the writers have and what we created in the room period. I don't want to adjust it. I mean, we created it together. It's not my choice to adjust it. I'm not one-man band. I'm one of many. So that is just, it would just be bad.
Alan: Okay. Well you said getting on beetle juice for a little bit. You said that three years, three years you were involved with the development of the show. Tell me about how you got involved. When did it first start for you?
Leslie: well, I was doing a show called the Robert bridegroom with Alex timbers at the roundabout, Laura Pels. And that's the first time that Alex and I started working together. And then I found out, you know, like we all found out he was doing beetle juice renew, and then I was like, oh man, great if I could do Delia, like it was in the back of my mind, but I never said anything. He came to me and he was like, would you be like, Alex is so funny. He's like, so, I’m doing beetle juice. And then she like, you know, would you like be interested in doing that? I was like, yeah. I was like, yes, of course. Like, yes, yes. And then we did our first, I think it was a workshop or reading. I don't remember. I think it was one of them. Yeah, about three years ago, because Sophia was not the first Lydia, there was another actress that was Lydia. And then when I met Sophia, she was 15, so it was three years ago. She just turned 18. So yeah, it's about three years. And that was it. I stayed with it the entire time. And Delia has morphed into many different, like so much has changed with her, not like lines and so many different versions. But yeah. And that that's how that happens. And that's very rare.
Alan: It was changed from file, the character.
Leslie: oh it's so different. Yeah. It's very, very different from the queen Catherine O’Hara. No one can touch her.
Alan: That that character in the film was an art sculptor. And now your Celia is, or Delia is a life coach. Was that you?
Leslie: no, that was them. They set up this, she's a life coach. She's the girlfriend, comes in to try to help Lydia. You know, they have a little relationship that was set up everything that was all there. I did not add that, I added my other stuff. But you know, the basic character was on the page when I came in.
Alan: So the, I mean the character is overdramatic and this sort of like super insecure person.
Leslie:, I don’t know anything about that.
Alan: How much of yourself did you bring to this versus how much like over the top did you go and you're like, I’m just going to go as hard as I can and then have Alex tell me to come back.
Leslie:, I mean, I think, I think when I create like on my feet, I just kind of, I read what's on the page, and then I just kind of add things as I go along. Like I literally paint and that's what it is. I paint with comedy, I paint with inflections and I take all of my stuff that I’ve learned in my stick from over the years, all of it. And I bring it, and then, you know, for her, she reminds me a little bit of this character that I did called pickles in the great American trailer park musical. I always say she's as close like I took a little bit of that, that kind of wonderment, that kind of like, oh, because she believes in all of this thing. Let's, you know, I was like, as my guru [24:10 inaudible] says, you know sadness is like kale salad, no one likes to throw it out, you know, it's like these goofy sorts of things. And then plus a whole spiritual warrior movement. Like now it's like everything's about cleansing and spiritual, but it's all kind of bs also. You know, it's kind of like bullshit. So I just pulled from all this stuff and yeah, I can go as far as I want with things. And Alex always will say, yeah, like take that back a little bit or do take that moment and then take that moment and do that bigger. So I just kind of play, I mean with our cast too, it's just like a fun group so we can just, we just get on that playground and see and then cut, snip and that's kind of how it happens. And he trusts me, which is a big thing, you know, he trusts me to do what I do, and he stays out of the way. And I think the best directors do that. They shape, they have a good eye, they know how to cast and then they stay out of the way and then, you know, shape and after that. Because if you hire good people, they'll do the work for you. It's always been in my experience. That's how I see.
Alan: right. Well we are working with Alex. I mean the cast is so incredible anyway. Like Sofia came out of nowhere and just is incredible. Like her voice for this tiny little package, just this great thing. And you've got Carrie butler, Robbin [25:34 inaudible] like Alex Brightman and the rest of the cast. They're all so incredible. And you guys have found these moments on stage that, I don't know. I'm always, I’m always envious of the process of, you know, of course when you're running it over and over and over again, you find things that you didn't know were there. And I mean, do you still get surprised on stage by these people every night? Or is it just kind of like, oh right, we're locked in, we're doing our thing.
Leslie: yes and no. A lot of times we're locked in, we're doing, doing our thing because there's not much else to do with that moment. Otherwise we'll change the entire moment. Does that make sense? Like there are certain things that are laid in, they have to be there, and they have to be done a certain way for the audience to understand, to set up other things. A perfect example of it, like one moment that Alex will play Brightman is when Chagas comes and it's like, oh, when, when she's like, oh, oh Lawrence, you know, when you think they're going to make up, you know, and she's like, oh, that was beautiful. Sometimes Alex will look around and he'll do these like weird little faces, and he changes that up every night because he can. Nothing is reliant on him to be a certain way. So as long as he's with Jill Abramowitz who plays shaga and in the moment with her, but he can add stuff. So I find it funny because I love his facial expressions. It's not like he's trying to pull focus or anything. He's just doing his own sort of stick there. And he adds the good, like the moment where he says goodbye to everybody at the end when he crosses to me downstage. And he does sometimes helps me with a little dance. Sometimes he'll walk, sometimes he'll look at me sometimes or whatever. We have a moment there where that is very flexible. I have even thought sometimes, oh maybe I’ll hold onto the wall, but I’m like, you know what, then it adds the whole, it adds a whole other physicality that I sometimes still misses the funniest. I'm going to let my face do the work. I've noticed that even in the winter garden with what, 1500 plus seats, stillness and a little movement on your face. You can really have them with that. So that's been amazing to learn even in that theater. So yeah, like there's moments where we can crack each other up a little bit, but for the sake of the show and the storytelling, cause there's so much going on in beetle juice, that if everything becomes loosey-goosey then it's a mess. You guys need to know where to look cause there's so much to look at.
Alan: Incredible. The puppetry and then the same set is actually like three different sets and it's all over the place. One of my favorite songs, most impressed with is you are in the afterlife.
Leslie: oh, another world.
Alan: Another world, what's your character called?
Leslie: I am miss Argentina.
Alan: Miss Argentina. You still got a little blue in your nostrils.
Leslie:, I have them in ear, my ears. Well it's a two-show day, so it's on my neck. It's everywhere. Oh my god. I want to take a shower at night after two show day. It's like, oh, this is what I do for a living, but I’ll take it.
Alan: Do you have a favorite song in the show? Was that it?
Leslie: that one, yeah, it's really fun. It's, it's really fun. You know, the makeup getting in and out of it is a lot. It's like a little bit of exhausting. But I have such a good team of people getting me in and out that we have good, we have fun together, you know.
Alan: It felt like paint or?
Leslie: it's necks up. It's all makeup. So neck front and back. Whole face is painted green and then it's a body suit. The rest is the body suit.
Alan: Yeah. I wondered about that. When I say, I was like, did she just like get her whole body airbrushed or something and then you like go and do a shower afterwards and then come back out on stage or something.
Leslie: yeah, no, it's crazy. It's like the, I never had, I never got to play Elphaba so I always, a friend of mine who was an Elphaba said, see you are a dead Elphaba now. I'm like, yes. And we're right across the street for wicked.
Alan: That's right. So the out of town tryout was in dc and I was talking to mark Kaufman, their producer once a while ago, and he was saying that the crowds, when you first started performing, you came out open in d c and the crowds immediately, you open day one with this huge fan base because it's become like the cult following of the movie, like proceeded the opening of the show.
Leslie: and now it's changed to be honest.
Alan: Has it really?
Leslie: yes. I really think it has now. You know, at first, we knew when the movie people were there, people that know that movie, they know the plants, they know the certain lines, which he goes, I am strange and unusual, they go woo. You know, you know, it's like when I did legally blonde, you know whoever sent pink or orange is the new pink is seriously disturbed. Like they scream when they'd hear lines from the movie and certain things. We still can feel the movie people, the people that know the movie. But now we have a whole other fan base that is coming. Tons of people that just have heard our cast album, which by the way is one of the best I’ve ever been a part of that are coming because they heard that first and then they became Beetlejuice fans or they heard it first, then they watched a movie, then they wanted to, you know, come and see the show. So it's been like a really interesting progression since dc, you know, first you have that fan base, which is still great. The movie people that are just fans from that. And now we have like a crazy mix and all of these young people like coming and dressing up and doing, you know, lip sinking stuff on tik-tok on this app that now I’m on tik- tok too. So I’m learning, I’m doing it.
Alan: I am 38 and I refuse.
Leslie: you don't have to do it. I'm an actor. It's different. They want me to do little things on there. I'm like, great, I’m game. Thank god you don't have to do that. That's a lot of work. But yeah, yeah, it's the fan base is expanding and expanding and expanding and it's just amazing, the artwork that we get from kids, the letters, I mean, I get tons of, you know, fan mail. Not to like toot my own horn, but like also people reaching out saying that we're making them happy. Young, young people. I get most of the letters I get are from 13, 14, 15 years old and they're just reaching out and they're saying we love the show, I love the cast album. It makes me feel so good. It makes me so happy. You know, people that have never even seen the show, they just, I’ve seen the cast album or our tony awards performance, so or anything else that we've done on television and it's, it's kind of amazing. I've never been a part of something that feels like it's just getting bigger and bigger. Like the show is already big like physically and then now it's, I’ve never been a part of something like this before.
Alan: Is it stage door feedback like sort of representative of the fan mail you get?
Leslie: yes. I mean it's crazy. I have today I got, I got a piece, someone, I don't know how they got this, it's a piece of the wallpaper. They printed a piece of the wallpaper from the Maitland’s house. I don't know, they were like, and then they gave it to me. I'm like, this is crazy. I don't even know what this is, but it's cool. I haven't really looked at it, but it literally is the wallpaper from their house. And yeah, they're, they've, they're freaking out. They love it so much. I mean, I met a girl today on the subway. I'm doing this blog right now for eight weeks. And this girl came up to me on the subway today and an audition this morning before the matinee and I’m on the train and whenever anyone comes in, like I have my earphones and headphones in and when someone taps me automatically get nervous. I'm like, oh my god, something's out of my bag or something. I'm like, you know, like what's, I just get nervous immediately. And she goes, hey, I’m sorry. She goes I’ve seen beetle juice five times. I just want to tell you you're amazing and I’m a costume design major, blah, blah blah. I was like, come with me, come with me. And you know, I exchanged information with her and I’m going to give her a tour of the costumes and everything cause she's the costume major senior year in college and you know, people are, you know, it's like so cool for me to like do something like that for her. Because I remember at her age, I had never had access. Like we don't have, kids now have access like we never had. So for me to like to be able to go, yeah, you know what, you're going to come backstage, we're going to going to meet, you're going to meet some people, let you look at the costumes, touch the costumes. And this is, you know, she's here doing a summer internship. It's awesome. And that's how the stage door is. These kids are like flipping out. They're all with their parents. And they, they love it and the adults love it. It's like, not just, I mean, a lot of young people wait by the stage room, but it's a, their parents and then b, all these adults that just love it. It's like, I’m like, great, I’ll stay in this show. Let's ride this out.
Alan: It hits both generations because the parents saw the movie, fell in love with that. I mean that was, that was my first exposure to Gina Davis, and I was like, oh whoa, there's Gina right.
Leslie:, I know. Hello.
Alan: And, and then now the kids, like you said, the access they have is incredible. I was talking with Andrew Barth Feldman the other day, right in [34:32 inaudible] dude he talked about like teen depression and suicide, these heavy, heavy things that when I was his age, like, like you said, [34:44 inaudible] getting in, getting into trouble. That's all I did. I was literally jumping my car across intersections.
Leslie: so we see I was stealing and you're jumping your car. But I mean, come on, we're like cut from same cloth.
Alan: I could have really hurt myself.
Jilian: Yes. That's you, wow you trump me. Wow. You never got hurt?
Alan: No, no, because I was always going in a straight line.
Jilian: Oh my god, wait, where are you from? I'm just [35:07 inaudible].
Alan: North Carolina.
Jilian: North Carolina. We're four years apart. So you were a freshman when I was a senior. Wow. So we grew up in the 90s.
Alan: So I didn't have, I didn't have broadband until college in 98. I said the word broadband to Andrew. And he was like, what?
Jilian: I remember graduated in 1999, we still were, when we were doing, we were printing papers. We still had to do the preparation on the side. Remember that?
Alan: You remember. Was it paint shop pro? Was that what it was? It was something where you can make those long banners on the perforated paper.
Jilian: Yeah and the perforated paper. That's right. Paint shop pro. Yeah and then when the laser printers came out, it was just like, when they just came out, we were like, whoa. Now pay phones are like a museum thing. It's crazy.
Alan: Yeah. Landlines like, hey, Mr. Seals is your son there? Like no one's going to, my kids aren't going to have to do that cause everyone's going to have a cell phone.
Jilian: Or like the digital voicemail. Like you had to put in the code to get your like the thing. When I got my own phone line, that was cool. I was like, wow, I have my phone line. That got taken away real quick.
Alan: Oh yeah. I think all the teenagers that are listening now just fast forwarded.
Jilian: They're like blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They're wearing all the clothes that we wore back in the day, walk into any urban outfitters. They're all the clothes that we were in high school, all of it, all the t-shirts, all the flannels. It all comes back.
Alan: It's so funny. I used to wear, I’m like 170 something pounds now and I was 6' 1'' and 150 until my mid-twenties. But I would wear larges and extra larges assuming I was going to grow into them.
Jilian: Oh, hilarious.
Alan: So i never had any fashion sense. No one told me differently.
Jilian: There you go.
Alan: So now when I, you know, I see people like I wear, you know, fitting clothes now.
Jilian: I know you look good.
Alan: Stitch fix, I don't buy my own stuff. I don't know how to; I don't know how to shop.
Jilian: I got to turn my husband onto that. Okay. So back to the theater and you married, you're married to Adam [37:12 inaudible] did I say that right?
Jilian: [37:13 inaudible]. But, no one gets it right. So that's normal. You are normal.
Alan: I was like [37:19 inaudible] how do you pronounce that?
Jilian: [37:20 inaudible] you got perfect. Most people say [37:20 inaudible], so you got [37:23 inaudible], right.
Alan: Oh well so you married him in 2013, married a non-civilian.
Jilian: I did. I did.
Alan: Yeah, he's in the business. Does that make it easier or harder?
Jilian: It makes it most times easier because we get our crazy schedule, you know, I mean, we both go through tech. We both get that. We both understand crazy creative teams and processes and heartaches when shows happen or they don't or, you know what I mean? Like we get the lingo, we have shorthand, you know where that couple that is sitting in bed up at 10.15, 10.30, when the ben Brantley review comes out in a new show. I mean, we're nerds like that and we love it. We love, he does it, he will still at occasionally if it's my show, he will go on the message boards and look what people are saying, he does not tell me, but he nerds out on that. He does not post, but I’ll out him on that. Yeah, it's, we have, we get it, we get the business. And I guess the only downside to it is that it's not, if I, if one of us had married a muggle, we could possibly have a more stability in the sense of like, although what is stability in our life right now in this day and age, but, in this, yeah, it's craziness. But you know, not one of us is not a nine to fiver, you know, we're both freelance, so anyone who's freelance and in the arts, it's crazy. So, so maybe, but again, it works, and we make it work and sometimes he'll be out of town for periods of time. He just got back into town. So like I was a single mother, to our two animals. And I had to deal with all that stuff, and you know, but that's like small potatoes, you know, most of the time it's wonderful, you know to be with someone that's in the business that gets it.
Alan: Yeah, I think so my wife, she's in finance.
Leslie: nice, good job.
Alan: Does not get any of this. Yes, I did. I'm married out of my league most definitely.
Leslie: good for you.
Alan: Yeah. Yeah. I miss. Oh, I used to perform, so like this is and then I’ve got into technical, I went to technical routes that are performing.
Leslie: no, you have, you do a lot of things.
Alan: right. Right, right. So like this is getting back into it and she's like, okay, I support you, but make sure you come home every night or whatever the case may be. So it's really, it's...
Leslie: you are artistic, that's cool. 9 to 5 a lot of times, like she must love that about you, you know, because she married you.
Alan: Yeah, I hope so.
Leslie: yeah. So that's more interesting. A lot of nine to fivers are boring, at least the ones that I used to date. Sorry.
Alan: Yeah, no, well that's, I have tended to date people in nontraditional jobs. Yeah, because I don't, I don't like that normality.
Leslie: no, it's not for me. I'm not like I guess, it always works out the way it's supposed to. You marry the person that you're supposed to marry.
Alan: And so [40:30 inaudible] what is that?
Leslie: oh, so I’m doing a vlog for www.broadway.com for 8 weeks. I thought it was six weeks, then I looked in the email and said eight. I was like, oh my god. But if anyone can do it, it's me. Like I totally, I talked myself out of like a, like a oh my god place the other night, I was like [40:51 inaudible] you are doing this shit on Instagram like all the time. Like you make stuff all the time. This is easy for you. So just because it's going to be on a, maybe like bigger platform in the sense of, and it also has to be a certain way and you have to put beetle juice, the show into it a lot doesn't mean anything. You could do whatever and they said, do whatever you want. So we're on, we just released the second episode, so we have a bunch more to go. And it's been fun because I’m trying to really show what our, like our show was like this past episode. Presley Ryan got to go on for Sophia for the first time with Lydia, which is very exciting. You know, people love to say, oh my god, how does that work? You know, she's going on out of nowhere. She's well-rehearsed. I mean, our stage management team got her ready and it's exciting. The entire building was so excited for her. Of course, you know, we love Sophia, but everyone's going to be out at some point. Everybody, that's the name of the game. That's why we have understudies in standbys and swings. And everyone in that building will be out at some point. So it's not a big deal. And she did great. It was good for her. So that was something I got to show. You know, I’m starting to make up characters around, which we're going to do more of. I think we're going to do the second called real housewives of beetle juice, which we're going to start with, you know, featuring some of the characters and like do what they do on the real housewives. And then of course show that show behind the scenes within reason without showing too much of the secrets of the show. And people have been asking me, oh, are you going to show the Argentina change? So I’m like, well, you have to watch the entire series to see if we do it or not.
Alan: I love the behind the scenes aspect of it, because as like a theater nerd that, that, I mean, any big show, I’m always looking at the technology behind it. And then to see the human side of it too, I think is incredible. So I enjoy it. I enjoyed watching it.
Leslie: oh thanks. We're going to show more, like, I’m going to do a whole thing with Austin who is on props and like how, what it's like to kind of deal with that and like, so mixing the show and people that make the show happen. And also funny stuff and stuff that I do. And so that it's a, and I think one other thing I’m going to do is like real things. Like how do we, you know, the big question that a lot of people want to know is how do we maintain this eight show a week thing. So I think we're going to put something in about vocal health. A bunch of us have had in the community have had vocal issues. I mean it's like being an athlete.
Alan: Wasn’t its Jessica Wak that just started this? It was couple of days ago, I think.
Leslie: Casey Levy.
Alan: Oh Casey Levy.
Alan: And I just texted her today because she and I mentioned something Brighton and mentioned something, someone else. And so I think at some point down the road, so I’m starting to learn how to like plan these things. I'm going to have a like a couple of minute conversation with some actors that people think, oh they must've never had vocal problems. And Casey was like, yes, we have to do this. Cause there's a stigma around it. There is no possible way you can't get tired. 8 shows a week schedule, opera singers don't do that. And they don't do that for a reason because it is really grueling. We can do it, but it takes a certain amount depending on the show, a real work and dedication. And when you get hurt, I have, I’ve hemorrhaged twice, and it is not fun and it's terrifying. I had a blood vessel on my cord burst and I had to have it cauterized. They had to put a laser down my throat. I mean, that was terrifying. I was like, oh my god, what if my voice never sounds the same again? What if I, you know, and so there's a stigma around it. Like people don't want to talk about it. And it's like, wait, but we're athletes, athletes break their legs and they sprain stuff and they're out for a whole season. And you know, why are we trying to be super human? There's no way. There are two little tiny folds of skin rubbing together. That's it.
Alan: This is like, it's you are like in the Olympics of Broadway.
Leslie: yeah, that's, that's, you know, it's impossible. So I also agree in every sense of the word. Mentally it's difficult. I mean, you know, it's a job and it's a great job and it seems like fun and it's where a lot of people, it seems like a hobby, but it is not a hobby. It is, it is, it requires a certain amount of energy. So even now when I say, oh god, I feel so like I’m getting down on myself for being tired. I'm like, you don't have to be tired. You only worked two and a half hours a day. I'm like, no, but it's really more than two and a half hours a day.
Alan: Like you are sprinting for two and a half hours.
Leslie: yeah. It's a focus that requires more. And at my age too, it's not like 15 years ago or even 10 years ago, you know, it requires something different. So someone, someone that is five years younger than me, or 10 years younger than me can go out for drinks and stay out until two in the morning and come in and sing a two-show day and be fine. That's not me anymore. And it doesn't make me sad. It's just a reality, you know, it's like, well, my priority is my job, you know, and my health because I like my job and I liked making my money though, like affording my life and I don't want to be out if I don't have to be, but if I need to be out, I do not feel bad about it and I don't, I don't kind of beat myself up if I need to be out of a show for the longevity of my career.
Alan: Yeah. The first time I talked about this with somebody was Patty Merin and she posted this whole thing about like, just feeling so incredibly guilty around calling out of a show and the responsibility of like letting down her fan. And even Lauren Menotti too, cause she's, she's very vocal about her autoimmune disease. Every time she calls out, it's just, she's like, I’m so sorry. I'm so sorry. And everyone is so supportive, yet you still feel bad about it, right?
Leslie: well yeah, because you're on the poster, right? You're in the pictures, your original cast, you are on the cast album. Every, you know, the person is sitting in that, you know, whatever price tickets seat and a lot of times they are very expensive and they're coming to see the cast that they want to see. So you feel bad. You, you feel you have responsibility. At the same time you are a human being and you're not a robot. So yeah, it's difficult. It is really hard. But you do your best. And our understudies and our, I’ve been an understudy, I’ve had been a swing, I’ve been a standby. Understudies at our show are excellent and they all, and here's the thing too, and I don't, it's not a controversial statement, it's just the truth actually. We are all replaceable. A show moves on, people leave. There's new cast members. I've been in shows where I’ve had two or three different people replaced. Those people are great and they're not the original, but they're great. Rob McLaurin and I came in and we replaced in something rotten. We had, we were awesome that the original cast, you know, what was it? Brian Darcy James and [47:48 inaudible] were amazing. But we came in and we did our thing and people loved us too. So it's not like the person who replaces me, I mean knock on wood or shall runs and runs and like I have go get another job somewhere at some point, I don't want to. But the person who replaces me is going to be fabulous. Then she'll be her own Delia and miss Argentina. I am replaceable. It's just, so the point is when understudies go on and they're ready and they're fabulous, which ours are, it is an invitation, experience for you to be able as an audience member to see someone else. And I think that's exciting. I saw Maureen Moore go on for Bernadette peters in gypsy and she was brilliant. I will never forget; I will never forget her performance. I love Bernadette peters, don't get me wrong, but to see Maureen Moore, now I know who Maureen Moore is and I’ve known her for years. I mean if I hadn't seen her, I don't know if I never knew, would know who she was, if I had seen her in something else. So it's exciting. We're a family, we're a team and we all work together and that's part of the deal.
Alan: Oh, I enjoy interviewing, like talking and meeting swings and understudies and alternates.
Leslie: oh my god. It’s the hardest job.
Alan: It's the hardest thing on there. [49:02 inaudible] you have to know like four sometimes like 10 different tracks if you're a dancer, you have to know everything on stage.
Leslie: and our swings are brilliant. I mean they're really on it. All of the swings that I’ve ever met that are good at their jobs and good at their job for a reason. I was literally told by stage manager when I did bad boy, it was my first swing job. He's like, you're terrible at this job. I'm like, you're right. This is not for me. I'll take one-character role at a time. I could do it and him and I are still friends. I love him, but I was like, you're right. I'm meant to originate a role and sit in it, that’s it. He was like, wait what? I have to, you know. So I appreciate it that honesty, it is a skill and it's a skill that I don't have and I’m okay with it. The people that have it are brilliant, and they save our butts and they're there and they're also amazing. They're amazing.
Alan: Well let's wrap up the episode here. So I’ll give you my three standard closing questions I ask everybody. The first one is what motivates you?
Leslie: what motivates me? Oh god. To what? This is terrible.
Alan: To get up in the morning to do what you do each eight times a week.
Leslie: okay. That's okay. What motivates me? I get to play two different characters that I really love. Probably one of the best two characters I’ve ever done. I love coming to work and I love making people laugh. It's very healing. Even when I feel like crap when I make 1500 people laugh, I mean I’m like, okay, I’m doing something good in the world. You know, there's not much I can do to control what's happening right now. But that's one thing I can do and that's cool.
Alan: So what advice would you give to your younger self and younger people listening now, starting out down a similar path.
Leslie: learn everything, immerse yourself in everything. Listen to every cast. If you want to do musical theater, I’ll stick in that lane. Listen to every cast album. See as many shows as possible. Live at the New York public library for performing arts. I lived there, I used to listen to cast recordings there. You can go and watch shows for free. I still go and watch shows there. Yes. If I want to like research something, I mean that is, if you're here, especially if in New York it's an unbelievable resource, but immerse yourself in everything. Even if it's community theater or even if it's to a show, you know the school, the more you know, the more you arm yourself with the better and train, absolutely train, a hundred percent. Don't just waltz in and think you're, just because you can sing, you know, you have to train. Without training, I would not have been as successful I think
Alan: Like we are talking about being an athlete. How athletes train.
Leslie: yeah. Off season too.
Alan: Yup. You got to keep going. Okay. Final question. Now, if you could only see one show for the rest of your life, but you can see it as many times as you want, what would you see?
Leslie: any show that's running or not running or past? Many times as I want, oh my god. "here lies love." you need to erase this. You need to erase this statement. Here lies love was a David Byrne and Alex timbers musical that is downtown at the public. Yeah, just erase that part. Just go, oh here lies love. Yeah. Here lies love. It was an off-Broadway show and it was always different. It was one of my favorite shows ever. It's unbelievable. Yeah, I’m joking. I don't, I’ve never seen cats. I've never seen the producers. There are so many shows. I've never seen phantom live, so don't worry.
Alan: If you're already in shows you can't see the shows all the time.
Leslie:: I know. I've never even seen [52:45 inaudible].
Alan: we can find you online at on Instagram and twitter at Leslie kritzer and of course www.beetlejuicebroadway.com playing it at the winter garden theater. Get your tickets now. You can find more of me at the www.theaterpodcast.com you can find me on Instagram and twitter as well at theater_podcast. Listen and subscribe. Please leave a rating, leave a review. It helps. This is produced by Jillian Hochman, edited by Matthew hindershot. Thank you to jukebox the ghost for the intro and outro music you are hearing underneath us right now, and Leslie:, thank you to you for coming out today. This has been wonderful.
Leslie: you are the best. I've had the best time. Oh thanks.
This self-proclaimed Jew-rican is tearing it up 8 times a week in Beetlejuice on Broadway, consistently proving herself as one of the funniest people on Broadway.
Leslie made her Broadway debut in Hairspray in 2004, followed by a string of amazing Broadway roles in Legally Blonde, A Catered Affair, Elf, and Something Rotten.
After deciding she loved performing at a young age, she found herself playing piano at Carnegie Hall at age 9. She originally felt she would seek classical voice training before deciding musical theatre was the way to go, but not before a slight problem with steeling led her to find her tribe. Her story is one of astonishment, as it includes an amazing instance of “theatre saved my life.”
Connect with Leslie online:
Connect with The Theatre Podcast:
- Support us on Patreon: Patreon.com/TheTheatrePodcast
- Twitter & Instagram: @theatre_podcast
- Alan’s personal Instagram: @alanseales
- Jillian’s personal Instagram: @jillianhochman
- Email us at email@example.com. We want to know what you think.
Thank you to our friends Jukebox The Ghost for our intro and outro music. You can find them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @jukeboxtheghost or via the web via jukeboxtheghost.com.
A very special thanks to our patrons who help make this podcast possible!
Paul Seales, David Seales
If you would like to see your name in this show notes or get a shout out on the pod itself, visit ttp.fm/patreon to become a member and show your support!