Call Answered: Nancy Opel: "Urinetown", 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists' "Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and The Women of the American Songbook"
"Who rules the world? Girls!" Throughout history, or should I say, herstory, we have had many strong female songwriters. Most of my iTunes consists of songs written and performed by woman. When I saw the 92Y was going to be showcasing the music of Dorothy Fields and other women lyricists' of the American Songbook as part of their Lyrics & Lyricists' series, I couldn't wait to see who would be part of this concert. Then I saw the cast list (Marilyn Maye, Kenita Miller, Nancy Opel, Margo Seibert and Emily Skinner) and was like, "This is going to be one heck of a concert."
I loved Nancy Opel in her Tony-nominated turn in Broadway's Urinetown. She really brought the laugh in laughter to that role. I have gone on to enjoy her in Memphis, Cinderella, and Honeymoon in Vegas. My favorite Nancy Opel moment was just this past February when I got to briefly interview her during Billy Mitchell's Villain: DeBlanks at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. We had a great time together, so it's super exciting to get to do a more in depth interview with her now for the 92Y's latest Lyrics & Lyricists' concert series entitled Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and The Women of the American Songbook.
Led by Dorothy Fields, Baby, Dream Your Dream will also include such pioneers as Betty Comden, Carolyn Leigh and Mary Rodgers whose work earned them an indelible place in the American Songbook alongside their more visible peers like Berlin, the Gershwins and Cy Coleman. Their timeless classics range from "The Way You Look Tonight," and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," to "Witchcraft," On the Town and Once Upon a Mattress.
Baby, Dream Your Dream will take place at 92Y (1395 Lexington Avenue, 92nd Street & Lexington Ave.) from March 18-20! Click here for tickets!
1. This March you are you are starring in the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists' Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and The Women of the American Songbook along with Marilyn Maye, Kenita Miller, Margo Seibert, and Emily Skinner. What are you looking forward to most about this upcoming concert? I love doing an all female show, especially with this sensational collection of gals. I’ve been a fan of Marilyn Maye’s for many many years (I snuck into the Kansas City Playboy Club when I was a kid to see her show there). I’ve worked very happily with Ms. Skinner and I look forward to this go round. Kenita I don’t know well, but we’ve done a bit of work together and I really admire her talent. I just saw Margo in IN TRANSIT and she’s great. PLUS, I have worked several times with our director, Mark Waldrop, and we always have a good time.
2. What do you think will excite 92Y audiences about this show? Well, it’s great, and I mean GREAT material - it’s an interesting grouping of points of view since it’s not a concert featuring one writer’s lyrics.
4. Of the songs you are performing, which one did you jump up and down over that you are getting to sing? I am both thrilled and terrified to do "If You Hadn’t But You Did."
5. This concert is sort of a coming home for you in that songs from one of the show's featured is On The Town, which you starred in as "Madame Dilly" at Barrington Stage. Whether or not you are performing one of the songs from On The Town in Lyrics & Lyricists, how do you feel you relate to that music now as opposed to when you were starring in the show? I loved ON THE TOWN and since I sang very little when in the cast, I got a chance to enjoy and admire it back then. It’s an amazing show then and now.
6. Since this installment of Lyrics & Lyricists is called Baby, Dream Your Dream, what is one dream you just had to pinch yourself over that came true? What is one dream you still hope manifests for you? I’ve had a bunch of pinching moments, haha. I guess a couple of obvious ones are first Broadway show (Evita), first Sondheim show (Sunday in the Park), and Tony nomination. What do I still hope for? Well, I guess, continuing to do relevant and exciting work is all I really hope for now.
7. One of the songs being performed is "The Way You Look Tonight." Growing up, how did you feel about "The Way You Look Tonight" and now that you are an adult how has that view changed? Genius tune with equally genius lyrics. I thought so the first time I hear Fred Astaire sing them, I still do. I think the thing I understand now is that that kind of perfect pairing of music to lyrics is a pretty rare combination. It’s one of the most romantic songs in the world, especially because of all the specificity, like "and that laugh that wrinkles your nose - touches my foolish heart."
8. Another song on the show's list is "Witchcraft." If you could conjure up a spell, what you kind of spell would you cast? Give everybody great free healthcare. Bibbity-bobbity-boo!
9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I am trying to improve my health every day, too! My commitment is to cook more for myself, and to cook healthy food- mostly vegetarian and vegan for the planet!
10. Since we met during Billy Mitchell's "Villain: DeBlanks," I want to revisit the question I had asked you that evening because I loved your answer and I want more people to hear it. You're big number in Broadway's Urinetown was "The Privilege to Pee". Was there a time during the show or rehearsal or since then that you laughed so much you peed? I can't believe that you would ask a woman of certain age, whose been pregnant, and had children, if there was time she has peed.
A singer, actress and teacher, Nancy Opel was born in Prairie Village, Kansas, and trained at Juillliard. She made her Broadway debut as a "Person of Argentina" in the original 1979 production of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s Evita, and in the later run was the replacement for the leading role. In 1985, she originated the roles of "Betty" and "Frieda" in Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. After appearance as the replacement for "Hope Harcourt" in the 1987 revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, Nancy played "Eleanor" in Teddy & Alice, a musical that drew upon the relationship between Teddy Roosevelt and his daughter as well as on the music of John Philip Sousa.
Nancy was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance as "Penelope Pennywise" in Urinetown. Other Broadway appearances include Triumph of Love, Fiddler on the Roof, Memphis and Cinderella. She performed the roles of "Mazeppa" and "Miss Cratchitt" in the Encores! staged concert of Gypsy in 2007. That same year, she played the title character in the first national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone. She was nominated for the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for Honeymoon in Vegas, in which she played the ghost of the lead character’s mother.
Nancy's television credits include the Law & Order franchise, Flight of the Conchords, and other shows.