Pop-Culturalist Chats with Carrie St. Louis

Carrie St. Louis

Carrie St. Louis commands whatever stage she graces. Her career-starting role as Sherrie in Rock of Ages in Las Vegas eventually landed her in the same show on Broadway. From there, she tackled another big role: Glinda in Wicked. And now, this talented young actress has stepped into the shoes of another infamous character: Annette Hargrove from Cruel Intentions. We spoke with Carrie about this nostalgia-fueled, fun musical, her career experiences, and what other well-known role she’d love to take on if (or when!) it becomes a musical.

P-C: How did you get involved with Cruel Intentions?
Carrie: I met Lindsey Rosin, our director, last time she was in New York. She had called to talk to me about it about a year ago when they were about to do the pop-up last February. I, unfortunately, couldn’t do it at the time, but we got to talking. We had a great connection so we stayed in touch. When she was here, we got together; when I was in L.A., we got together. Then, this time around, the timing all worked out, and it was a perfect fit. I’m so glad to finally be a part of the production.

P-C: Since this is based on a cult-favorite film, did you feel any pressure to play Annette the way that fans are familiar with?
Carrie: I mean, certainly with anything there’s always the pressure of, “I hope I live up to the role in their head,” and Reese [Witherspoon] is so iconic in the movie. To be honest, I’ve always gotten compared to Reese; people have said, “You look exactly like her. You act exactly like her.” It felt like a perfect fit. And, it doesn’t hurt to have to watch the movie over and over again. I love it. It’s so fun. I definitely have been inspired by her, but at the same time, I don’t want to be an exact carbon copy of Reese Witherspoon in every inflection of my voice and what not. It’s fun to take it and make it my own, but still pay homage to her and her work and the reason why it was made so iconic to begin with.

P-C: You said that you watched the movie a ton. So, how much and how long did you prepare for this role, then?
Carrie: So, I found out that I was doing it about two-to-three weeks before rehearsals [began]. I watched it a couple times before that since we only rehearsed for a few weeks before we started previews! It was a very, very quick process. I’ve never been a part of something like that before. Once you’re in the room, though, and rehearsing it over and over again, the work just starts to happen quickly—especially with this cast. I knew Constantine [Rousouli], who plays Sebastian, from before, and I knew Lauren [Zakrin] as well, who plays Catherine. The first day it was like a reunion of our friends, and that chemistry has helped so much because I’ve never once felt weird doing anything because they are such good friends of mine. With Constantine, having a pre-established relationship has really helped with the characters. We have to fall in love every night, and it’s the easiest thing to do! I got pretty lucky in terms of that.

P-C: What is your favorite part of the show each night?
Carrie: Oh goodness! It changes all the time. I love doing the Act I finale when we’re all together singing this epic mash-up where we’re all singing parts of our songs from earlier, and it ties it all together. When we hit that final note at the end, the audience always goes crazy.

I also love “Foolish Games.” It’s so dramatic. The show is so fun and upbeat, and everyone is rocking out the whole time and, all of a sudden, it takes a turn, and you’re like, “Oh no. Why am I feeling things? Why am I sad all of a sudden?” I just love that song. I think it’s so nostalgic. It immediately transports everybody back to their first break-up, or their first high school crush and listening to it over and over on your Discman, so emo in your room. When the opening chords start playing on the piano, I can always hear in the audience an audible gasp.

Cruel Intentions Carrie St Louis

Lauren Zakrin (Kathryn) and Carrie St. Louis (Annette) in Cruel Intentions: The Musical

P-C: The audience reaction, like you mentioned, is such a big part of this show. Has there been a standout audience moment so far?
Carrie: Usually Saturday nights are really fun. The audiences just get better and better as word of mouth is getting out. [At] the first preview we were like, “We’re not sure how this is going to land in New York.” After that first night, [though,] I was like, “I don’t know why we were worried!” It’s because the song choices are so spot-on that when they happen, everyone knows the songs, and they fit into the story; it all melds just perfectly.

My favorite audience reaction, though, was during “Colorblind” when we have our steamy sex scene. Someone in the audience yelled, “Get it Annette!” and we were totally giggling behind the curtain. They were just so proud of me [laughs]. I’m sure there are many more moments to come. We’re running through the audience; it’s a lovely part of [this show]. It’s so bare bones—there’s no set—that it’s us bringing the audience into our world for the night. It’s so cool. I’ve done a lot of shows where you’re separated from the audience by the orchestra and costumes and set. This feels so much like we’re all just hanging out.

P-C: If there was one more 90s song that you could add to the show, what would it be?
Carrie: I wouldn’t be able to figure something out in terms of making sense in the story, but maybe “MMMBop.” I also am obsessed with “Mambo No. 5.” I don’t know why. Maybe it’s from birthdays and bar mitzvahs [laughs].

P-C: That song could fit in with Sebastian’s character.
Carrie: Totally! That would be in his opening monologue! [laughs]

P-C: You’ve also performed in Wicked on National Tour and Broadway. What was your biggest challenge in transitioning from a tour to Broadway?
Carrie: It’s interesting because when you take a show like Wicked on the road, people feel like you’re coming to them. They accept you with open arms. I’ve never felt so welcome in my entire life. People would open their doors for us, their restaurants, we’d be on the local news channel…We felt like mini-celebrities. We’d stay in places for 4-5 weeks at a time so it felt like we really lived in that city. Then, you come to Broadway where [Wicked has] been for 15 years. There’s definitely a sense of “This is Broadway. It’s the ultimate.” Audiences are a little harder to please, I think. They can be a little more like, “Show me what you got”—which is totally fair. So, I think it’s more the sense that you feel like rock stars on tour, and Broadway is a little more subdued and professional—which is fantastic (there are so many things I love about Broadway). Wicked audiences, though, are great everywhere. My role didn’t change—I played the same character—but obviously the cast did. So, the audiences and the cast change were the biggest things.

P-C: Did you have a favorite place you went to on tour that you wouldn’t have normally gone to on your own?
Carrie: Yes, one of my favorite cities was Madison, Wisconsin. I would have never gone. It’s such a beautiful city. We were right by the water. It was around Halloween time, and I would walk my dog every morning and think, “What if I just bought a house in Madison?!”

P-C: Both Wicked and Cruel Intentions are adaptations. If you could bring another character to life from any book or movie, what would it be?
Carrie: Good question…well, there are so many movies right now being made into musicals so this may be the cheesiest answer ever, but maybe The Notebook. Like Rachel McAdams in The Notebook. I feel like if you got Jason Robert Brown to score…

P-C: Yes, I was just thinking of him! Like the lush music he did for Bridges of Madison County
Carrie: Yeah! That would be so beautiful. I can’t get through that movie without crying, ever. I also love her performance in that movie. It’d be so romantic.

P-C: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
Carrie: It’s probably that everyone has their own path. I think that so often when you’re in musical theater school, or a program, or even high school, it feels like, “I have to do this, this, and this, and then I’ll be on Broadway. I have to take ballet, tap, and jazz, and study voice.” But, there is really no clear path for anyone. I think that’s what’s been so exciting for me. I was an opera major in college, and three months out of college, I got a call to audition to open Rock of Ages in Las Vegas. I thought there was no way I’d be able to do it because it was so wrong for me, but I went in anyway because I couldn’t turn down anything from my agent. I somehow miraculously got the part, and that led to my Broadway debut. I made my Broadway debut singing 80s rock on stage! So, you never know what your path is going to be. Just go on the journey. Go audition for everything, show up, and do your best.

And, not really advice, but just a quote that I keep with me always…It is an index card my mom left for me on my desk in seventh grade. She wrote, “I will believe in you every day of my life.” I’ve kept that card with me everywhere I go.

Pop-Culturalist Speed Round

Guilty pleasure TV show
The Real Housewives

Favorite Book
The Little Prince

Favorite Play or Musical
Sweeney Todd

Artist You Could Have on Repeat
Right now, I’m kind of obsessed with Katie Boeck. She’s a singer-songwriter that I’m obsessed with.

Go-to Karoake Song
“Alone” by Heart

Place Most Want to Travel to
Amsterdam or Banff

Person You’d Like to Meet Someday
Beyoncé

 

For more information and tickets to Cruel Intentions: the Musical, click here. And, be sure to follow Carrie St. Louis on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!
Photo Credit: Jenny Anderson

Taraneh

Taraneh has been happily living in NYC for over a decade, but originally hails from the Midwest. Enamored with books at a young age, she grew up making stories, playing make believe, and loving the musical and performing arts. She is great at binge-watching TV shows. Some current favorites: Schitt's Creek, A Court of Mist & Fury, Prince Harry, and The Magicians.

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