Brian and Diane Sutherland are currently starring in A Second Chance at Signature Theatre. This very talented couple has performed in other Signature Theatre productions, but never together in the same musical until now. Diane appeared in Sycamore Trees and Brian was in the cast of And the Curtain Rises. Brian’s credits include A Fine and Private Place at Goodspeed Musicals, Camelot at Westchester Broadway Theatre, Cats and 1776 on Broadway, and the National Tour of Guys and Dolls which began at Arena Stage, and also starred Diane. Diane’s credits include A Chorus Line and Cats on Broadway, and Into the Woods at North Shore Music Theatre.
Did the two of you meet while working on a production?
Brian: It’s sort of a showbiz story – we met early on in 1984 when I joined the Broadway company of Cats and Diane (then Fratantoni) was about to embark on the National Tour of that show. We met on the stairs of the Winter Garden Theatre. I remember the meeting with absolute clarity (“Who’s the hot little Italian number?”)… She claims to have no memory of the meeting – although to be fair, I may have been dressed as a cat at the time.
Diane: We actually became re-acquainted in the show 1776 on Broadway about 14 years later. Brian was already in the show and I came in as the understudy for the two woman’s roles. But part of Brian’s job was also to understudy Thomas Jefferson. So when I had my first understudy rehearsal, the first thing we had to do was the LONG kiss between Jefferson and his bride, Martha. They don’t even have any lines together, just a long kiss while the scene is going on between John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. We didn’t start dating till a few months later, but that is the first time we “worked” together.
How many shows have you performed in together?
Diane: Three weeks before we got married, we were cast in Guys & Dolls at Arena Stage, right here in D.C. We didn’t tell the director that we were together and getting married until we had both auditioned separately – and both been called back. It all worked out, and we had so much fun on that production- and then a year and a half later, we toured with the show for about nine months.
Brian: We’ve been lucky enough to do quite a few together: a couple more worth mentioning: we did a fun Kiss Me, Kate at St. Louis Rep, and some fabulous concerts in the French Alps with a lovely 25-piece chamber orchestra.
Brian – you performed in a very underrated musical called A Fine and Private Place which was produced at Goodspeed. What do you remember about that experience?
Brian: I’m glad you think it’s underrated. It’s really a lovely and delicate little ensemble piece – a lush and evocative score and a smart and literate book. I played a writer who’d committed suicide and found himself sort of in limbo in a graveyard until he comes to terms with himself – and of course he falls in love there. The opening number is me in a coffin, discovering I am dead, but aware. That was a first….
Diane – you played Diana in A Chorus Line on Broadway during it’s original run. When a show is running as long as that one did is it hard to come in and bring something fresh to the character? Were you ever told, “This is what we want and do not stray from it?”
Diane: The people who were in charge of keeping A Chorus Line intact, were rather strict with what you could and could not do…but I never really felt restricted in playing the role of Morales.
After A Second Chance closes at Signature what are you doing next?
Brian: I’m one of those actors that never knows what’s coming next – it’s the blessing and the curse of this business. I love the constant spontaneous discovery of my career, and simultaneously loathe and fear the absolute lack of projectable security and longevity. But so far there hasn’t been a dead end. Fingers crossed.
Diane: For me as well, I’m not really sure. I did Sycamore Trees here at the Signature Theatre a while ago, and there is some interest of doing another production of it in New York. We shall see……
A preview video of A Second Chance.
A preview video of Sycamore Trees with Diane Sutherland.
Read Joel Markowitz’s interview with Ted Shen – composer, lyricist, and book writer of A Second Chance.