Levy is perhaps best known for starring as Sheila in the Tony Award winning revivial of Hair both here in the West End and on Broadway. Her other stage credits include Elphaba in Wicked (Los Angeles), Penny Pingleton in Hairspray (Broadway, 1st National Tour), and Maureen in Rent (National Tour). In concert, she was a guest soloist for the United States Military Academy at West Point. We caught up with her this week to find out more about this highly anticipated show.
Hi Caissie - how are rehearsals for Ghost going so far?
They're going great, thanks! We're currently in our last week of rehearsals before heading to Manchester for tech, and our opening on 28th March. We're excited to get into the theatre and take things to the next level.
What attracted you to the show? Had you seen the film - what did you think of it and was Dave Stewart a draw for you?
I've always loved the film, but what really attracted me to the project was the creative team and the opportunity to work on something brand new. I've replaced in a lot of big Broadway hits so I was excited to create something from page to stage. Obviously Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard are rock legends, and they've written truly gorgeous music, so that roped me in right away. They're two of the most generous and brilliant people I've ever met. I've also long been an admirer of Matthew Warchus' work, so I jumped at the chance to work with him.
What was it like performing at the Whatsonstage.com Awards in London and how are people reacting to the music of Ghost so far?
It was a huge thrill to perform at the Whatsonstage.com Awards and I was honoured to represent our show. I was especially touched by the amazingly warm reception! The reaction was incredible from those in the industry and the fans alike. I think people are really excited to see how Ghost shapes up.
Has anything amusing happened during rehearsals?
I think my favourite was when Sharon D. Clark, our Oda Mae, went up on a line and accidentally shouted out a bunch of gibberish. It was so loud, so committed and so not anything resembling English. We all just lost it.
You performed in London recently in the Broadway transfer of Hair. Do you find London audiences differ from Broadway and if so, how?
Doing Hair in the West End was wonderful, and the audiences were fantastic. Our London audiences were more reserved than our Broadway audiences and we had to work a little harder to get them on our side, but once we did, they were jumping up for standing ovations and rushing the stage for the dance party. We also had super loyal fans here, just as we did in New York, so we felt right at home. (Thanks, guys!)
For many Hair closed too soon. Were you sad to leave the show as from watching the show myself, the cast seemed like close friends?
It was sad to close a month earlier than expected, but the whole cast felt very proud to have spread the love here in London. The bond our cast has is so deep, and we know we'll probably never experience anything quite like it again. From Broadway to London, we were together for two years, and a lot of major things happened that bonded us forever - groundbreaking work for LGBT rights, benefits for friends in need and causes we believe in, some intense joys and losses for several cast members....It was a very tight-knit, spiritual group and we were really there for each other. I've taken away incredible friendships from that show, and for that I'll be forever grateful.
Ghost as a concept must rely heavily on your chemistry with Richard Fleeshman who plays Sam. How are you two getting along?
Richard is a nightmare. He's untalented, mean spirited and horrible to look at. Ok, obviously I'm kidding...he's wonderful and we're having a blast! We have a very natural chemistry onstage, helped in no small part by Bruce's wonderful writing.
Have you got any favourite songs from the show and if so why?
So many. The score is jammed with incredible tunes. Of course, I love singing "With You". I also love the end of Act 1 called "Suspend My Disbelief", and my act 2 song, "Nothing Stops Another Day". All of Oda Mae's songs are great - super fun and bluesy. Chris Nightingale's orchestrations are so beautiful throughout the show and musically, there's something for everyone in Ghost, no matter what your favourite style is.
There may be cynics out there who presume that because Ghost is based on a film - it's not original. How can you convince these people that the show is worth seeing.
I can certainly understand people's reservations - I had them myself! But once I saw the roster of talent working on the show and heard the music, I was put right at ease. Bruce Joel Rubin's screenplay is brilliant, and translates wonderfully to the stage. Dave and Glen's music fits into the story so seamlessly that I think people will find their favourite moments from the film mean more now than ever before. Everything from Rob Howell's set to Ashley Wallen's choreography to Paul Kieve's illusions is so inventive and original. On the first day of rehearsal, Matthew said that we're not making a film into a musical, we're making a story into a musical. I think the cynics will be converted as soon as they see it.
You get to kiss both leading men (Richard and Andrew Langtree) in the show. Who is the best?
Oh, I never kiss and tell. :)
You are getting the chance to perform in "Manchester, England" which is celebrated in your last musical Hair, as sung by Gavin Creel. Will any of your co-stars from the show be coming along to cheer you on and has Richard shown you around as he is from the Northwest?
As soon as I told Gavin I was moving back to the UK, he jumped around the room and told me he's moving in with me! So, he'll definitely be out to visit during the London run. I think a bunch of my Hair family are trying to make it out here too: Kacie Sheik, Steel Burkhardt etc. Hopefully a lot of them will be crashing on my couch this year. As for Manchester, both Richard and Andy Langtree are favourites there, so I think I'll be well taken care of with my show-boyfriends by my side! It's going to be a great ride!
Caissie Levy was speaking to Glenn Meads
Ghost runs at the Manchester Opera House from 28 March - 14 May before opening at the Piccadily Theatre, London from 22 June. More details can be found at the official website.
See our interview with Richard Fleeshman here.