Broadway star and Tony Award nominee Marin Mazzie encouraged Stephens theatre majors to embrace their own unique voices and styles during a Skype interview today.
“Be yourself,” she said. “Admire other people, but don’t try to be them. Believe in yourself, that’s the most important thing.”
Mazzie, whose mother and grandmother both attended Stephens, has enjoyed a long career on Broadway that began with a role in “Big River” in 1985. It was a crash course in the world of Broadway, she said, but helped her make connections that she would enjoy throughout her career. One such connection was Elmore James, who is a guest artist in the School of Performing Arts this year and helped bring Mazzie to campus through videoconferencing.
Her next role in “Passion” earned Mazzie her first Tony nomination, which took her career to another level, she said. Most recently, she starred on Broadway in Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway,” which earned her an Outer Critics Circle Award. She’s also starred in “Next to Normal,” and received Tony and Drama Desk nominations for her performance in the revival of “Kiss Me, Kate.”
Speaking to a class via video conferencing from her home office this morning, Mazzie shared her experiences both on stage and in front of the camera. She discussed the differences between coming onto a show that’s already running and having the luxury of playing an original role, such as her role in “Ragtime.” The latter produced one of the most beloved musical theatre songs of all time, “Back to Before,” which she continues to perform.
Mazzie also stressed the importance of treating everyone with respect, from the doorman to members of the orchestra; being on time; and earning a reputation for being dependable.
Asked for vocal tips, Mazzie urged students to find their own voice rather than trying to mimic others.
“You don’t sound like anyone else, and you shouldn’t,” she said. “Develop your voice and how you sing, that’s how you stand out.” If the song is in a key that doesn’t match vocal abilities, she said, “change the key, not your voice.”
Mazzie is currently preparing for a New Year’s Eve show at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York. Next year, she is planning additional concerts abroad.
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