Alexandra Silber is currently making her Broadway debut as Sophie DePalma in MASTER CLASS alongside Tyne Daly, Sierra Boggess, Jeremy Cohen, Garrett Sorenson, and Clinton Brandhagen. Directed by Stephen Wadsworth, the show is playing a limited engagement through Sunday, September 4 at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street).
Terrence McNally's play about Maria Callas (Tyne Daly) takes us to one of her famous master classes, where, late in her own career, she dares the next generation to make the same sacrifices and rise to the same heights that made her the most celebrated, the most reviled and the most controversial singer of her time.
Silber took time out of her busy schedule to chat with BWW about her debut on the Great White Way.
Though this is your Broadway debut, you've been around for quite a while! What have you been up to before now?
I have actually been in London for the past six years doing West End shows. I'm obviously American. I was born and raised here, but I went to college in Scotland at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama when I was eighteen. I studied straight acting- I got my degree in acting there. I always sang, but it was always just 'for me.' It wasn't a training kind of a thing- it was me going to a practice room and messing around. When I was in my final year they came and taught the straight actors how to do a musical theatre audition, should that ever arise, and basically eight weeks later I was taking over for Jill Paice as Laura Fairlie in Andrew Lloyd Webber's THE WOMAN IN WHITE on the West End. I was 21, and I was like ‘I don't think I even know what the West End is!' I'm working with Trevor Nunn and Ruthie Henshall and Andrew Lloyd Webber himself, and I was just not quite certain of what was going on.
I fell face-first into musicals and into singing. And, then from there I played Hodel in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF in the West End and then went on to play Julie Jordan in CAROUSEL in the West End as well. I had this whole West End musical career which I never anticipated, and after all that I just never had an opportunity to come home- London sort of became my home. And the show finished, and the relationship that I was in for about four and a half years also finished at the same time, and I sort of thought ‘This might be a time for me to distance myself and heal my heart and go home and see what happens.' I thought I was gonna stay for about three months and within three weeks I had an agent, a manager and nine months of work!
Wow, good for you!
I thought, ‘I'm here to stay!' And at the very end of that nine months of work was this production of MASTER CLASS at the Kennedy Center. Tyne's performance was such a revelation- the crowning jewel really of this festival of Terrence McNally plays that happened there last year. And I was lucky enough to be brought along with the production to Broadway! So that's my career life story!
For those who might not have seen MASTER CLASS yet, can you tell us a little bit about your character, Sophie?
Oh Soph! I actually think that Sophie is the most relatable of all the three students for the everyday person. We all possess some degree of greatness inside of us- some degree of true magical potential and we have our own way of accessing it and expressing it. I think that we compensate with jokes and character traits that we think will give us personality. We add to ourselves in order to make ourselves worth more, and I think Sophie embodies that person. She strips away all of the excessive things and learns that she, stripped with her naked bare soul, is enough.