INTERVIEW: Evita's Rachel Potter Is Ready to Live the Dream
The popular actress discusses singing the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, working with Ricky Martin, and her new CD and Joe's Pub concert.
THEATERMANIA: How was the opening night of Evita?
RACHEL POTTER: It was such a bundle of emotions. There was so much excitement, and it was overwhelming. My mother flew in that day and we met in the Starbucks at the Marquis. I remember crying. I was so happy, but at the same time, I wanted to know what people would think and write about the show.
TM: What amazes you most about this story?
RP: In my mind, Eva Peron is like a modern day Robin Hood. She's such a powerful phenomenon. She was a force to be reckoned with. To understand the influence she had on her country is incredible.
TM: Your big moment in the show is your solo, "Another Suitcase in Another Hall." What is performing that song like for you?
RP: It's lovely. I had been cast as the Mistress at a local production in Florida, and Andrea McArdle was set to play Eva. In the end, I couldn't do it because I landed another gig. I never thought I would have the opportunity again. So it's a moment now that I love to share, because so many people have felt what the song says and because Andrew Lloyd Webber's melodies are never predictable.
TM: Speaking of Andrew Lloyd Webber, I heard he had something to say about your performance?
RP: Yes! The first time he saw us perform, he came backstage to meet everyone. He came over to me, shook my hand, and said, "Beautifully sung." It didn't register right away. I had to think about it. I was telling myself to write it down!
TM: What is it like working with Ricky Martin, who plays Che?
RP: It's awesome. He was all over MTV's TRL when I was in middle school and high school. It was so bizarre to be around him at first. Now, he's our friend Ricky. It's been a joy. He is so warm and supportive.
TM: What can we expect from your Joe's Pub concert?
RP: I'll have my Country Band with me. We will do all of the songs from the record, and we will also do these pop covers which we have never performed live.
TM: Was doing country music always a dream of yours?
RP: Yes, I always dreamt of being a country artist since I was a kid. I would even design my own album covers. A few years ago, I thought about giving up musical theater in order to move to Nashville, but then I booked the Wicked tour. I thought I would leave for Nashville when the tour ended, but then I booked The Addams Family. Finally, when we got the closing notice, I thought I would be moving to Nashville. And then came Evita.
TM: You put this whole CD together, though, didn't you?
RP: The whole process began when I was on tour with Wicked. I had free time on the road and I started writing songs. Then, at one point, we weren't far from Nashville; so I called my friend Justin York, and we started writing some songs together. Then over the next two years, we got together as much as possible to make the CD. I saved as much money as I could, but still didn't have enough. So I began a Kickstarter campaign. The response was so overwhelming that I ultimately doubled my goal.
TM: One lyric from the CD really stood out for me: "I don't know how to get there, but I will get there, just watch me live the dream." There are so many young people with aspirations to perform in this business who feel the same way. What advice would you give them?
RP: One thing that I've learned is when something is meant for you, it will be there for you. I first auditioned for Evita in March 2011. I had just landed The Addams Family, learned everything for that show, and then came down with a bad cold, so I didn't have time to learn the song for Evita. I never heard back after my audition. Then, in October 2011, I found out that they still hadn't cast the Mistress. I reached out to the casting director, explained the situation, and asked if I could come back in. They agreed, and I booked the job. I feel that the part waited for me. You can't be upset when others get the job. That was part of their journey. Keep doing the work and showing up. This isn't a business for the weak.