Stephanie Styles loves Broadway, and making her debut as Lois Lane/Bianca in Kiss Me, Kate at Studio 54 was a dream come true. With the production ending its run on June 30, we asked Styles to reflect on the experience and to share her favorite moments, from creating the choreography in "Always True to You," to meeting Kristin Chenoweth.
1. What is your favorite line that you get to say?
"I'll never forgive you if something happens to Mr. Graham before I'm a star on Broadway." Because I get to say that line looking out into a Broadway house every night and I think that would make Lois very happy.
2. What is your cast's best inside joke?
"It's worse-it" is my favorite. That's between Kelli, her dresser Dyanna, and me. And all the little dances I do backstage with Corbin and our crewmembers Chris, Scooter, and Dan.
3. What was the worst technical difficulty you experienced during the run, and how was it handled?
My headband fell off in the middle of "We Open in Venice" and it turned into a full Three Stooges moment with Corbin and me tumbling all over each other as I tried to pick it up.
4. What is the most "interesting" present you received at the stage door?
There is a lovely young woman from Northern California who is a dentist and she always brings me a little goodie-bag of dental hygienic necessities and my teeth and I are forever grateful.
5. Who is the coolest person to come see the show?
Kristin Dawn Chenoweth, Christian Dominique Borle, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
6. What is it like to be onstage with Corbin Bleu, Will Burton, and Rick Faugno and watch them dance "Tom, Dick or Harry" night after night?
They're my heroes. And I love all three of them so much. Prior to rehearsals starting, I found that number to be the most daunting of all my numbers, in theory. And the greatest gift of all was finding out my two other suitors would be Will Burton and Rick Faugno because I knew them prior to Kiss Me, Kate. I'd always looked up to Will because he was a senior when I was a freshman at the University of Michigan, and Rick and I did Roman Holiday together in San Francisco. That combined with my immediate kinship/partnership with Corbin allowed me to put my complete and total trust in them. They are three of the most talented men I know; true triple threats with insane work ethic, patience, understanding, and drive. I'm in awe of them every show, and it's an honor to be courted by them eight times a week.
7. You've talked about writing Broadway fan fiction. What happens in your Kiss Me, Kate fan fic?
The ensemble members' backstories are pretty juicy. I'm also interested in the Hattie/Paul/Ralph dynamic. Oh oh oh, I want a Handmaid's Tale-style flashback episode with the Gangsters, pre-Kiss Me, Kate. Like, what happened when he threw the guy into the Potomac!?
8. How did you and choreographer Warren Carlyle develop the pantomime movement during "Always True to You"? What inspired the different moments during that number?
The day we staged the number, Warren gathered me, Marissa McGowan, and the men in the number and had us all watch "Make 'em Laugh" from Singin' in the Rain. And then we just played with ideas and all the various props available to us in the room. This vaudeville meets burlesque style we've been able to find is a total dream for me. My single favorite thing I do in the show is my dance with the jacket. And that was Warren saying, "What if this jacket was your lover?" and I went home that night and played with the jacket until the wee hours of the morning. The people who know me best come to the show and, without me even saying anything, they'll always say, "You love that bit with the jacket."
9. What's the best advice imparted to you by Kelli O'Hara?
I could write a book. I've truly never worked with someone better at what they do than her. She's a master. She's wise, goofy, and human. She's an incredible leader, friend, and mother. I go to her often for advice. Actually, I hope she's the one who writes the book. There are too many good ones, I couldn't ever pick.
10. If you could dream-cast yourself, Kelli, Corbin, and Will in a Shakespeare play that isn't Taming of the Shrew, which would it be, and why?
I'd like to see us all dancing around the McKittrick in Sleep No More.