Cady Huffman
(© David Gordon)
Cady Huffman
(© David Gordon)
Cady Huffman first came to most theatergoers' attentions as Ziegfeld's Favorite in Broadway's The Will Rogers Follies and later wowed everyone with her Tony Award-winning work as Ulla in The Producers. Since then, Huffman has been keeping busy with a wide variety of stage and television projects, the latest of which is Prospect Theater Company's upcoming revival of Cole Porter's rarely-produced musical Nymph Errant at Off-Broadway's Clurman Theatre. TheaterMania recently spoke to Huffman about the show, working on CBS' The Good Wife, and her experiences as a judge on Food Network's Iron Chef America.

THEATERMANIA: Were you familiar with Nymph Errant before you were asked to do this production?
CADY HUFFMAN: I knew nothing except that it was by Cole Porter. It's interesting that we don't know the show as Americans, because every British person I've talked to knows about it. It's this adorable little romp about the coming-of-age and sexual awakening of these girls who just finished finishing school. The main character is this seemingly prim girl who is determined to go out in the world and ends up being taken everywhere by men and having all these wonderful adventures. When it was done on Broadway in the 1930s, several parts were censored; but we're doing the uncensored version.

TM: You play multiple roles in the show, right?
CH: Yes, I play four grownups: an English schoolmarm, a French whore, a brash Yonkers woman who is trying to marry off her daughter, and a German lesbian. Each one is so different, including a different vocal range. I finally get to use some of my legit voice. And I love the fact that each character has their own charm. I also get to do a lot of funny stuff.

TM: Is it a challenge for you to sound different for each of this roles?
CH: No. I do get to do broad accents for each part, and I love finding the funny in accents. I was very classically trained when I was young; I did opera, Shakespeare, and ballet in my childhood, and you do learn a lot of different accents and styles. I have a bawdy family too, so we sang a lot around our house. And we read Shakespeare for fun. What can I say, I thought it was normal.

TM: What do you think of the score for Nymph Errant now that you know it?
CH: I've been fascinated that in this score, you can hear so much of the other music of the time. It makes sense, though. He was a young writer, so he was influenced by other composers from the 1920s and 1930s.

TM: Later this month, there's going to be a production of The Producers at the Hollywood Bowl with Rebecca Rojmin playing Ulla. Do you have any words of wisdom for her?
CH: I get asked for advice about playing Ulla a lot, and here's what I tell everyone. The hardest thing for women to understand about Ulla is that she wakes up looking like that; her hair is that color, those boobs are her boobs. So visually you get her immediately. And yes, she's a very sexual person. But don't play the sexy. It's just there. In reality, Ulla is this simple girl. She's very honest; and when she falls in love with Leo, she really falls in love.

TM: You've had a recurring role on The Good Wife as Julianna Margulies' character's real estate broker. Has it been a good gig?
CH: It's been great fun. Julianna is amazing. She is extraordinarily smart, professional, and everyone on the set is looking her to lead, and she takes it with ease. And technically, Alicia [her character] hasn't bought anything yet, so maybe I'll get to come back.

TM: While you're doing Nymph Errant, you'll also be judging Iron Chef America again. Tell me about that experience.
CH: It's my 11th season, and they only shoot in July. The show shoots two episodes a day, and I am doing four episodes this year, but not back-to-back. Once I did the late taping and then the morning taping the next day - it was chocolate at night and I came back to cheddar cheese. That was a crazy amount of food for 24 hours.

TM: Do you eat every bite of everything you're given?
CH. Often times, if it's delicious, I finish it. After all, I never know what else is coming.

TM: What was your favorite food battle?
CH: The offal battle! I loved it, even though I had to eat calves liver, which I just don't like. But on that same show, I got to have these duck liver chocolate truffles that were outrageously delicious. And I loved the lamb heart tartare. Normally, we don't get any advance warning about the secret ingredient, but that one they asked about because they knew that some people would not eat that stuff. Luckily, I have no food phobias.

TM: Has it inspired you to cook more? Do you want to be an Iron Chef?
CH: When I was married, my husband did all the cooking, and as I went through the show, we developed some recipes together. But now that I am single, I can cook and even find it a natural thing to do. But no way do I want to be an Iron Chef. There's a level of training here I can't even imagine!