In New York theater circles, the actress Linzi Hateley is known for one thing: playing the title role in the legendary Broadway flop Carrie. Hateley, who at 17 years old made her Broadway debut for all of five shows, has never been back to perform, though she's since had a rich career back home in Great Britain. On the West End, she's played Nancy in Oliver!, Éponine and Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables, Winifred Banks in Mary Poppins, and Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia!, among others.
Hateley is packing her suitcase and returning to New York — for one night only — to perform at 54 Below on May 27. TheaterMania chatted with the veteran actress about how she was affected by Carrie and why this cabaret concert will please both its ardent fans and biggest detractors.
Is this your first time back in New York City since Carrie?
I did actually do a Carnegie Hall concert with Betty Buckley. I was a special guest at that. But that's before I had my daughter, so at least sixteen years ago. I've been to New York City a few times, but not in the capacity of performing.
So you've never been to 54 Below before.
I haven't. A good friend of mine, Frances Ruffelle, has done it a couple of times and said I'll have a great time down there. I'm getting a bit nervous, just being back in New York and hoping they'll like it.
The show is called Life Since Carrie, but I understand it was titled something different when you first premiered it in the U.K.
Over here, the cabaret was called True Colors. The thing is, in the U.K., the Carrie thing doesn't have the same relevance as it does in America. I'm known for a lot more things in [the U.K.] than I am Carrie, whereas [in the U.S.], it's the one thing that I did. So that's why we put the little hook of Life Since Carrie.
The fan base that show has acquired in this city is kind of unbelievable.
It's a strange one, isn't it? Because it was pulled so quickly and didn't have time to settle, it did become a cult thing. It was a tough thing to go through at the time because I was very young and it was my first job and didn't realize how cruel the business could be. I had to do a lot of growing up very quickly…I learned to be proud of it. YouTube helps with stuff like that, even though I can't bear it because I look hideous. There is some great stuff with Betty Buckley and I that seems to be iconic now. It'll be interesting if it'll ever make its way back to England. I think it is quite an American show, but I know there are lots of fans of the music over here.
I'm presuming you do perform a Carrie song or two?
I do a little bit. It would disappoint people if I didn't. I'm dragging her out.
Has Ms. Ruffelle provided any advice or words of wisdom?
She was very positive about it all. She said I will have a great time. We're pretty reserved, us English lot, so I'm hoping that it will be quite refreshing to have an appreciative audience. Fingers crossed. I'd like to enjoy it and not let the nerves get in the way too much.
Would you like to do another Broadway show at some point?
It would be nice to come back with something that would last a little longer, to be honest. But I have a family and my life is based around being here in Britain. I've got a fifteen-year-old daughter and we're getting to the point where she wants to do it herself and I'm saying no, don't do it. But once she's a bit older, it would open more opportunities for me to travel a bit more.
What are you working on now?
I was filming something called London Road, which I did at the National last year, and they're making it into a film. It is a musical, but I don't know that you'd call it a traditional musical. It's certainly something a little bit unusual and breaking new ground. We had to speak-sing certain sections of it. It was quite a fascinating thing to do because it was a bit like learning a new skill. It is a unique piece, I think. After this, I'm about to tour with Barnum. It's a Cameron Mackintosh production and I'm playing Charity. We're then hoping it will go into the West End. I'm quite excited.
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