After nearly two years, fans finally have the chance to go back to the theatre, starting with the new Broadway musical Anastasia. As “one of the most gorgeous shows in years” (New York Observer), Anastasia, inspired by the beloved film, transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. The North America tour not only makes fans excited, but gives hungry performers a platform they’ve long waited for, to showcase their art—especially Lauren Teyke, who plays Odette. This is her professional debut and her first-ever tour. If you don’t know Lauren yet, go watch her videos on YouTube. You will be awed by her dancing and blown away by her vocal skills. She is also a runner up of the Chinese Bridge competition (a worldwide Chinese proficiency competition for non-Chinese speakers). You may ask—and we did ask—how does she do it all? Her answer, “Stick to your classes and always work on your weaknesses.” Read more in our full interview with Broadway’s rising star. —Louisa Chan
Hi Lauren! Tell us about yourself to start!
My mother is also a ballet dancer. She went to Berlin when she was 16. After that she ran a musical school (in the U.S.); she also teaches music in collage. My father is a theatre drummer. I started learning dancing, singing and acting when I was very young. I was raised with it. When I was in preschool, I started performing in musicals. And now I’m performing in Anastasia for its North America tour.
When did you know you wanted to become a professional performer?
My mom never forced my sister and me to go to classes. She waited until we decided what we wanted to do. I started picking it up in elementary and then I gradually decided that this is what I’m going to do. I always saw opportunity and I thought to myself, if I can make this my career why wouldn’t I? Ever since I knew what I wanted to do, I just showed up to classes, even if it’s a tough day. You’d get yourself there, you’d go to that dance class, you’d show up at your singing lesson. It’s about consistency.
Before you become a Broadway performer, how many hours or how much work did you put into training?
There’s a difference between ballet and musical theatre training. A typical ballet training is you go there right after school, so I usually got there at 1:30 p.m. and stayed till 8:30 or 9 in the evening and that was six days a week. At my mom’s musical theatre school, I had a different schedule every year but it was usually multiple hours and between three and six days a week. It’s a lot of classes, it really is. It’s a big time commitment that you don’t always have time for other things. For example, if you say you need to skip class because you want to go to a birthday party, then my mom would say that’s not even an excuse. Those are the sacrifices you have to make. I think when I was in high school with the extracurriculars, that was when I felt really exhausted. My mom calls those mental health days. There were definitely times that I had to stay home. Sometimes you need to give yourself one day off, allowing yourself to recover and come back stronger.
How do you feel about your first tour so far?
Even though we travel to different cites every couple of days, our performance is the same, our cast is the same. Sometimes we feel tired; I caught a cold few days ago, but as soon as you are doing the show, you forget that you are tired. It’s just so wonderful, so joyous. When you hear the orchestra, you are like, “This is why we are here!” Our audience is loud, they cheer hard. Because our costumes are princess dresses, kids love to see us. Especially our Anastasia, Kyla Stone, she’s the first black woman to be playing this role. You can see the children and the audience seeing someone who represents them for the first time, they get so excited. You can see it in their eyes. It is so touching.
What’s the most difficult thing playing Odette?
I’m in the ensemble and I play Odette, the white swan. It’s an excerpt from Swan Lake in the second act. I really enjoy doing this every night. In the middle of the second act, the actors go to see ballet. They are singing on the sides while we dance in the middle. The difficulty that I have dealt with so far is to do ballet in a musical instead of doing ballet in a ballet show. I really had to make sure that I warm up properly because for an hour-and-a-half we are doing musical theatre and then all of a sudden it switches to classical ballet for a few minutes, then we go back to musical theatre. That is something I had to get use to. Also, we have a mic pack on our head—fun fact, we have mics in our wigs! That’s obviously unusual for ballet. I had to get used to the extra weight and everything.
Give us a few reasons to go see the show?!
I’m going to start with our Kyla Stone. She’s one of the most talented people I have ever met in my life. Aside of that, she is so kind and so humble. We are so blessed to have her as our leading lady. Our other cast members are also very talented, our ensemble members are amazing. The show is very beautiful. The big part that makes this show amazing is we have some of the most stunning costumes that I’ve ever seen. We also have this big LED screen at the back, we have these projections during the whole show. The show is esthetically pleasing. The music is ridiculously beautiful and catchy, too. You will leave singing some of the songs.
For people who want to become a Broadway performer, what would be your advice for them?
First, you have to believe you can do it in order to do it. My honest advice would be to work on your weaknesses. It’s very easy to only want to do the things you are good at. Let’s say you are really good at jazz and not so good at ballet, you might just want to go to jazz class. But you might end up needing ballet. So work on your weaker points in addition to your strong points; you will be a more balanced performer.