Laura Jordan is currently making her DC area stage debut in Silence! The Musical at Studio Theatre in the role of Clarice Starling. On Broadway, musical theatre geeks might remember Laura from the original companies of Cry-Baby and the much talked about In My Life. Also in New York, Laura appeared as Kathy Griffin in Perez Hilton Saves the Universe!, Ronnie in .22 Caliber Mouth (dir. Diane Paulus) and Coral in Glimpses of the Moon. Regionally she has had the pleasure of being a part of The Great American Mousical at Goodspeed (dir. Julie Andrews) and Company at Bucks County Playhouse (dir. Hunter Foster). Her many TV and film credits include Glee, The Big C, Submissions Only, A Gifted Man, Admission, The Jimmy Show and A Case of You. She is the creator of the new web series OTP: One True Pairing. You can find Season 1 available on YouTube.
As you can see, Laura has worked in some pretty impressive places with some pretty impressive people. How many of us can say we did a show with Julie Andrews as our director? Laura is a well-rounded performer as well. She has both dramatic and musical credits which shows us her versatility as a performer. For those of us that saw In My Life on Broadway, it’s one we will never forget. Read on for Laura’s recollections of working on that show. I welcome Laura Jordan to DC and hope you will make time to see her and the rest of the talented cast that makes up Silence! The Musical. A summer parody of a classic horror film and a talented leading lady. What more needs to be said?
What was your first professional job as an actress?
As defined by being paid cash money, my first professional gig was as a member of a 6-person ensemble doing a review of songs from the turn of the century (the 19th into the 20th, that is) called The Gaslight Review. I’m from Saginaw, Michigan and we did this show in a town called Frankenmuth – “Michigan’s Little Bavaria”. For reals – this place is off I-75 and is Bavarian themed, as in dirdls and lederhosen on the waiters and shopkeepers and an Alpine McDonald’s. We would do the show and then as we finished up curtain call (which was a medley of patriotic songs) we would march up the aisles and stand by the front door, shaking the patrons’ hands as they left. It was mostly senior citizen bus tours – they’d come have a chicken dinner at one of the famous places in town and then see the show. I got paid $80 a week which, considering I was seventeen and living with my parents was a fortune. $80 EVERY WEEK TO DO WITH AS I SAW FIT!!! The show ran seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day and I was in the “B” cast, meaning I performed Mon-Wed. Fun fact – Brian D’Arcy James, Tony nominated for Shrek and Something Rotten, was in the “A” cast. A brush with greatness!!
Can you please tell us a little bit about your character in Silence! The Musical how did the writers take a very unlikely piece of source material and musicalize it?
I play Clarice Starling, immortalized in the film by Jodie Foster, who won an Oscar for the role. Basically what I do in our production is play the “dialed to 11” musical comedy version of her film performance – and all with a super exaggerated lisp. Because who doesn’t remember that from the film??
The show started as a kind of concept album by Jon and Al Kaplan, like – wouldn’t it be hilarious to write songs for a musical version of Silence of the Lambs? And they were right, it was! So then Hunter Bell, who wrote the book, and Christopher Gattelli, who directed and choreographed the original production, were brought on to flesh the whole thing out. I think the whole concept is brilliant, actually. It would be pure folly to try to musicalize this material in a serious, dramatic way because why do we need that? The film did that so beautifully. Musicals work best when you need the music, when it heightens the stakes and the emotions of the story, helps us understand the characters better, propels the story forward. But what if you approach the same material from a different direction, if your goal is to send it up and take the very elements that made it so scary and intense and shocking and turn all that on its head? That’s the purpose of parody and that’s why this show is so successful I think. It hits every iconic moment in the film and finds the core of what made it work in the movie and gives it a 180 spin. And the best parodies are done completely straight of course – let the audience laugh on their own, you don’t need to telegraph what you think is funny. And if it works on its own as an entertaining evening, without requiring advanced knowledge of the source material? Even better, and I think this show does
You were part of a show called In My Life on Broadway which people still talk about for many reasons. Can you please tell us what your experience was like working on that show?
So you may be surprised to hear this but…it was amazing!! I swear to you, we had such a great time, and there are four of us from that show who are still dear friends. We get together every year on Oct 20, our opening night, and have dinner!! And for our 5th anniversary we invited everyone – cast, crew, creative – and so many people came!! It was a weird show, and all the stuff about Joe that came out afterwards is so heartbreaking but one positive thing to say about him is that he put together an amazingly kind, supportive, fun and talented group of people to do that show!! You would have to buy me a drink to hear more stories…gay goth angels, dancing skeletons, God as a baseball cap-wearing, jingle-singing, middle-aged guy on a bicycle, a leading character with Tourette’s – I could go on and on…I can guarantee there’s been nothing like it before or since. And how many of us can say that?
Silence! The Musical marks your DC area theatre debut. How do you like working in DC?
I was so excited to get this job because a. I love this show and b. it would allow me to spend a few weeks in DC with my five-year-old daughter!! We went to the zoo last Monday and despite it being hot enough to make me lose IQ points we had a marvelous time. I hadn’t been to that zoo since I was ten! It was fantastic and we were both thrilled to get to see the pandas up close and personal, eating popsicles the zoo staff threw to them. Next we’re going to go see the “President and his house.” I have tried to explain we are not going to actually meet the President, just see the house, but she doesn’t want to hear that. I choose my battles.
What is next for you after Silence! The Musical concludes its run?
I wrote and filmed three episodes of a web series last year and after a successful Kickstarter campaign we are moving forward with Season 2! I’ve been writing in my “spare time” and we will film as soon as I’m back! It’s about two friends who write erotic Tolkien fan fiction. Check it out here, you know you want to…