It's safe to say that Katie Finneran has conquered Broadway. Deftly moving from plays to musicals and vice versa, Finneran has earned herself a pair of Tony Awards for the Michael Frayn farce Noises Off and the Burt Bacharach-Hal David musical Promises, Promises. She has played legendary roles like Miss Hannigan, Sally Bowles, and many others. Her extensive resume also includes a slew of television roles like the recent Michael J. Fox Show, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, and Wonderfalls.
Now, Finneran is taking a leap into cabaret. She'll play 54 Below in a new show titled It Might Be You — A Funny Lady's Search for Home, May 28-31. TheaterMania chatted with the funny lady herself regarding how she feels about her debut in this theatrical form and why it's making her so nervous.
Why have you waited so long to do a cabaret show?
I was terrified of cabaret for many years. I thought I don't want to be on stage by myself, talking about myself. You can't hide behind a character. I also didn't want to hear myself sing twelve songs in a row.
What made you change your mind?
I wanted to tell the story of how much I love theater and acting, and how that makes me feel at home. And then, my search for the perfect mate, falling in love with the perfect man, creating my own home, and merging those two. That's the most wonderful form of cabaret, sharing the essence of who you are. These are songs that I love. There are a lot of personal stories, maybe too personal, but hopefully people will recognize themselves.
How have you been preparing for the show?
I finished The Michael J. Fox Show in December. I had six months to a year off. I've seen a ton of different cabaret shows and I love the format. When it's done really well, you feel like you've made a new friend and spent time with someone and learned something pure and honest about someone's life, along with hearing them sing great songs. I thought Let me see if I can get comfortable with this, and 54 Below came to me and asked me and I said "you know what? I have the time."
What's been the hardest part so far?
It's been much harder than I thought to tell a story in an economical, funny, concise way that doesn't take forever. What are your favorite shows that you've seen? I'm sorry, now I'm interviewing you.
The one I consistently rave about is Norbert Leo Butz's Girls, Girls, Girls concert.
He told me about it! We're working together on a new TV show in Florida. In fact, he gave me a lot of really helpful tips. He made me get a drummer. He made me get more musicians and he told me about telling a story. I'm actually going to buy his album today and listen to it.
Tell me about this TV show…
It doesn't have a name yet, but it's the new Netflix show with Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard and Kyle Chandler. Norbert and I play husband and wife, and we go way back, so we just have a great time on set. It's a family drama. There's murder and stealing and Sissy Spacek. She can do anything. The first night I was there, I found myself having conch with Norbert and Kyle Chandler and I was like, "okay, it doesn't get much better than this." [laughs]
Will we get to see you on Broadway again soon?
Yes! Thank you for asking. I love it so much. Maybe next year. I have a really nice schedule now because the series is only twelve or thirteen episodes. I'll have more than half the year off, so I'll look for something. I have some nibbles. Probably a play. Does that disappoint you?
Not in the least.
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