Douglas Sills as Percy
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The Scarlet Pimpernel : Broadway's Most Intriguing Musical.

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Interview with Stephanie Bast

Stephanie is an original member of the Pimpernel cast. Those of us lucky enough to have seen the first version of the show remember how she used to step forward at the end of "They Seek Him Here" to send those high notes soaring.

NR: Can you tell me a little bit about your background? Where did you grow up?

SB: Sure. I was adopted. I was born in Seoul, Korea. My mom's Italian and my dad's German. They wanted a little girl so they adopted me and brought me over when I was four months old. I grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

NR: As a matter of fact, I received a question from a woman who also grew up in Bethlehem, and she wanted to know what high school you went to.

SB: I went to Notre Dame High School.

NR: Thanks. When did you decide that you wanted to perform?

SB: I think it was in high school. My junior year I auditioned for Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts. It's a five week scholarship program. You go away and all you do is theater and that's what turned me on to wanting to do that in college, rather than art education. I had originally wanted to do art education.

NR: Really? Do you paint and draw also?

SB: I can draw. I was going to teach art. I was going to go to Kutztown and get a degree in that, but then I got a scholarship to Allentown College for theater, and I decided to do that instead and give it a try.

NR: Did you study opera at all, since you have such a beautiful high voice?

SB: Actually, my first vocal teacher was more operatic. She would just throw opera songs at me and I would sing some arias, but I've just mostly been doing musicals. I like opera but it's never been a passion of mine. I love to listen to other people sing it, but I don't care for it. It's very extensive training that I just didn't want to do. You have to go to school pretty much just for that and I didn't want to do that. I actually went to college just for straight acting, not even singing. Singing was just a side thing that I decided to take. I really didn't start singing lessons until after college.

NR: You've done a couple of shows already, right?

SB: Uh huh.

NR: How do you work out a real life schedule in addition to all of this? Isn't that difficult to do?

SB: When your real life really hasn't started yet, it's OK. It's fine because I'm a night person, so this is just fun for me. I've found recently that I'm trying to start a life. I just got engaged and we're buying an apartment and we're trying to make wedding plans. Now it's hard. Now it's difficult, because now I'm doing other things along with it. I'm either doing commercial work or print work, and other readings, so my days are gone, and my nights are gone, and I'm trying to start my life as an adult. (laughs)

NR: You don't get any time off.

SB: No, no. This has been the longest show that I've been in straight. It's been a year and a half of a schedule. I get a little sad sometimes that I miss all the family gatherings at home. They're always on a weekend and I can never go home.

NR: I guess they don't want to have them on a Monday.

SB: That's right.

NR: Are there aspects to a Broadway career that surprised you?

SB: I didn't know it would be this fun, because when you first get in your first show, you're so willing to do everything perfectly and be the perfect little worker. Then, after a couple months you realize that you can just relax and be yourself and have fun with everyone. The people are so wonderful, especially in this show. That's the best part of working.

NR: What was your first show?

SB: It was A Christmas Carol with Terrence Mann.

NR: I think I saw it. I definitely saw it with him.

I received a lot of questions about your voice, especially from people who saw the old version of the show. We all knew that it was you who was carrying those high notes at the end. Was that you alone?

SB: Yeah, that's me alone. For some reason it was just me that was picked to do the high C. Then, when Cynthia Sophiea left, I was just talking casually to Ron (Melrose) and I said, "You've got to get me some help with that note, because when I feel sick, it's a little hard to do it." So now, Alicia (Irving) helps me out with the high C.

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Interview conducted and photographs by Nancy Rosati.

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