Interview with Terry Richmond
I interviewed Terry at length and a more complete interview can be found in the "Spotlight On" section of Talkin' Broadway. Below are excerpts and a special question for the League.
Terry's been a member of the ensemble since the very beginning. I have dubbed her the "League's Guardian Angel" because she has been so helpful to all of us over the past year by assisting with plans for the brunches and other League events. Terry always greets you with a huge smile and she is a joy to be around.
NR: Tell me a little bit about your family.
TR: There's four of us actually. I have a brother and he's the oldest. And then there's Heather. We're all three years apart, so Chris is the oldest, and then Heather, then there's me, and we have a little sister, Tori, who's actually a micro-biologist. She just finished her undergrad at Hunter and she has a job at a bio-tech firm on the west side.
NR: So, she's in New York also. Are your parents still in Vermont?
TR: My dad's now living with his wife in Cape Cod and my mom is still living in my home town of Montpelier, Vermont. Both of my sisters are here because I'm here. We all lived together for a long time and then fortunately, before we killed each other, we spread out, and we all live in fifth floor walk-ups on the east side. I'm about to break out of the "upper east side fifth floor walk-up" because I'm buying a house.
NR: How small was the town you grew up in?
TR: Well, it's the capital of Vermont, but it is very small. It's about 8,000 people. Small enough that everyone knew our business all the time. There were 103 in my graduating class and that was the only high school in the town. It was great for what it was. I couldn't wait to leave and now I love to go back.
NR: When did you leave?
TR: I left to go to college. I graduated from high school in '85 and I went to St. Louis, Missouri, to Webster Conservatory of Theater Arts, and that was basically because I didn't really know what else to do. They offered me a scholarship. I thought I'd go to Webster for a year and then I would know the deal. St. Louis seemed at least... I thought I should be going to New York but nothing was turning out that way, so I went to St. Louis and I had four really, really great years there. It was a musical theater program and I got a B.F.A., and I didn't take any real courses. My Advanced Placement Biology meant nothing. But it was great.
NR: I believe you told me you were singing when you were a kid. Were you always singing?
TR: Yeah, there's a lot of music in my family. There was always music in my house, so I sang whenever I could. In junior high it got more formal because there were groups to join and I did that. In my freshman year of high school, Heather was a senior, and she said, "OK, you have to audition for the musical" and of course I was thrilled. It was Pajama Game and I got Babe and Heather got Gladys. I was a freshman, so that was kind of a big deal, and that was the beginning of the end, actually. But it all came out of singing, and wanting to sing, and not knowing at that time that just being a singer wasn't enough, but I learned. I did a lot of community theater in high school, and that's where the whole "distortion of reality" began. I sang in different choirs and played trombone in a marching band.
NR: What were you doing before you made it to Broadway?
The big thing I did was Williamstown Theater Festival, which is a big, prestigious festival in Massachusetts. I auditioned for their cabaret. They had a summer Cabaret Corps who did shows. They called me and they wanted to offer it to me and I was really excited because I knew it was very prestigious... and I had an amazing summer. We did eight different shows. In the early part of the evening we would do something like a Frank Loesser revue, like a real cabaret show. There were five of us. And at night, we did the late night cabaret and all the crazy Equity actors would join us, which at the time was Chris Reeve and Betty Buckley and whoever else was there. It was an incredible experience, as well as the summer I met my husband Chris, and also, Peter Hunt is the person who hired me for that job. That led to five summers up there, only once on the main stage.
So, really, when this audition for Pimpernel happened, I was kind of at the end of the rope with my career. I was almost 30, which to me had always been that target age, and in college everyone said, "Well, you're not going to work until you're older. You're a leading lady and you're too young." And that works in your head for awhile.
NR: Can you tell me about your Pimpernel audition?
TR: I heard Peter was directing this and we knew Peter very, very well. Chris, obviously knew Peter very well. They worked very close together for seven years. I wrote Peter a postcard, saying "Hey, we're getting married. Hope you'll come to the wedding. PS. Are you going to see me for Pimpernel?" I heard he came to town. He didn't call us and he didn't call me for the audition. I was really angry. I thought, "After all we've done for him, he couldn't even fit me in?" I was literally bad-mouthing him to everyone. Two weeks later I got a call saying, "Hi, Peter wants to bring you in for the call backs for Scarlet Pimpernel." He of course skipped the audition call. So, then I thought, "Oh, God, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I said all those horrible things." I was then thinking after this whole dry period I was in great shape because I had been doing my solo show. Fortunately, even though I hadn't been auditioning for awhile at this point, I was in good shape vocally and I was just in a good place. I was thinking, "This is it. This is my show. I've worked with Ron Melrose, and I know Peter. This is my show! It's time!" I was so geared up. I brought my pianist to the audition. They wanted two numbers. I sang my first song. Then Ron said, "You know, Terry, we really know your voice. I really think that's fine." And Peter said, "Love to Chris." Then I thought, "I can't believe it." Because I was sure this was going to be it. I was destroyed. When they say that in an audition it usually means...if they like you they want to hear more, whether they know you or not. They just do. I went home and said, "You don't understand, Chris. This is it. I'm not going to get called back. Why did he just bring me in just to kick me out?" - basically bad-mouthing Peter again. And there's my sweet husband, trying to be supportive, saying, "Well, honey, if you can't get this one..." And he had a point. If you finally went to one of these, and you know these people, and they know your work, and they're still not giving it to you... So, I was destroyed again. And then the next day, I got a phone call telling me they wanted to see me again for the final call back.
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