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INTERVIEW: Aaron Lazar Is a New Mamma Mia! Dad

The Broadway veteran discusses his role as Sam Carmichael in the hit Broadway musical. logo
Aaron Lazar (center) with fellow new
Mamma Mia! dads Daniel Cooney
and Graham Rowat
(© David Gordon)
Broadway veteran Aaron Lazar has wowed theatergoers in such shows as A Little Night Music, Les Misérables, The Light in the Piazza, and recently starred opposite Megan Hilty and Rachel York in the acclaimed City Center Encores! production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. He has now returned to the Great White Way as Sam Carmichael in Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus' global smash hit musical, Mamma Mia!. TheaterMania recently spoke with Lazar about his latest role.

THEATERMANIA: How did Mamma Mia! come about for you?
AARON LAZAR: It was pretty standard. My agent called and I went to audition. I had never seen the show. So I saw it and had way more fun than I ever thought! I will be the first to admit it. I sort of wrongfully judged Mamma Mia! for so long. I thought of it as a jukebox musical that I wasn't interested in. I was so wrong. The technical elements of the show are fantastic. There's a lot more to this production than I realized.

TM: How is it adjusting into the role with several new cast members?
AL: It is a lot easier with other new members, rather than doing it alone. Even though the show has been running for so long, we are making it our own. They are letting us have some freedom with these roles.

TM: Has Judy McLane, who plays Donna Sheridan, given the new cast any tips?
AL: Judy leads by example, not by sitting everyone down and saying, "I've been doing this for eight years, let me tell you..." That is what's great about her.

TM: How is your portrayal of Sam different than your predecessors?
AL: Honestly, I have no clue! The only actor I know who has played Sam is my friend, John Dossett. I always try to make each character my own. Sam is straightforward. He is coming off an ugly divorce. His wife took the kids. He is coming back to this island that had some meaning to him 20 years ago.

TM: Do you enjoy singing in this particular style?
AL: Yes. My first show on Broadway was The Scarlet Pimpernel, which is also sort of pop-ish. You have to learn how to act a pop song. You have to find the balance of the pop from the pop song and the lyrical significance of the scene you are in.

TM: What's your favorite part of this story?
AL: The end! The wedding is beautiful and is in line with great traditions of musical theater. All of the characters are on stage together. Everything is coming together and leads to a great resolution.

TM: What has been the reaction from audiences?
AL: I've been so pleasantly surprised. The houses are packed. Audiences are having a good time. You would actually feel a bit of separation if they weren't enjoying themselves! The end is like a mini third act. This is my little rock star moment.

TM: What did you enjoy most about doing Gentlemen Prefer Blondes?
AL: This was the first time I met Megan Hilty and I have been a fan. There were a lot of fantastic things about this production.. We had a 34-piece orchestra and had such talented people doing fun, loose work. I hear there is talk of a transfer, and that would be great. This is such a timeless piece and it's nice knowing audiences fell in love with it.

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