Carolee Carmello as Marguerite
SP3: Neil Simon Theater

The Scarlet Pimpernel : Broadway's Most Intriguing Musical.

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Interview with the Lands

It's so nice to see Liz and Ken back in The Scarlet Pimpernel. I decided to interview them together because it's hard to imagine one without the other. They have a tendency to finish each other's sentences, which didn't really pose a problem because they are in agreement on so many subjects. Actually, it probably made the whole meeting a lot more enjoyable.

Except for five months in the beginning of 1999, Liz has played Marie since the pre-Broadway readings of The Scarlet Pimpernel. She has understudied Marguerite since SP2. Ken played Ben in SP1 and SP2, and is now playing Dewhurst in SP3.

NR: Can you tell me where you both grew up?

EWL: I grew up in Denver. I lived there until I graduated from high school. I went to college in California, both for undergrad and for my Masters. At that point my parents moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. They've lived there almost twenty years and my little sisters grew up there. Then in a roundabout way I eventually came to New York and I've been here since `87.

NR: How about you, Ken?

KL: I grew up in Minneapolis. My family moved about 30 years ago down to Phoenix and all of my family is in Arizona now. I've been in New York since `81, eighteen years now.

NR: When did you two meet?

EWL: I'm going to tell you something very funny. We met at Gregg Edelman and Carolee Carmello's wedding. How about that?

NR: How long ago was that?

EWL: March of 1995. I did City of Angels with Gregg and Carolee and Passion with Gregg and Hello Again with Carolee. I stood by for her there. Gregg and Ken had done the first national tour of Evita in the early `80s.

KL: 1980. The first national tour.

EWL: So we independently were invited to the wedding. We met at the wedding and we've been together ever since.

KL: Isn't that wild?

NR: You got married about a year ago, right?

EWL: We got married July 26, `98.

(Both at the same time): Fourteen months ago tomorrow.

KL: (teasing) Seems like fifteen months.

NR: (laughing) OK. You can always spot newlyweds when they tell you how long they've been married in months.

EWL: But it's just such a coincidence that Carolee is now in the show and Gregg's in Les Miz. We've both known them for a very long time, independently. One of their wedding presents to us... we were dancing at their wedding and the photographer snapped a picture of us. They came to our wedding and they gave us that picture. It's kind of weird to look at the picture now.

KL: We had our arms around each other. We had just met three hours earlier.

EWL: Yeah, so it was meant to be.

NR: Now, is it hard to work with your spouse?

(Both at the same time): No.

EWL: No, it's not hard to work together. That's not the problem. If we have any strife it's that we just spend so much time together.

KL: That's the deal.

EWL: I never see him in the show.

KL: We're on different floors. My dressing room is right below hers. We walk to work together, we're here, we have dinner together between shows, we go home, we sleep. It's a lot of being together.

EWL: The benefits outweigh...the drawback is that we just get a little bit sick of each other (big smile) - in a good way. We're each other's favorite person, but you know...

KL: need to take a break.

EWL: But the benefits are that we have all these exciting shared experiences. In the last year, we redid Scarlet Pimpernel 2, we left and did Romeo and Juliet...

KL: ...where we played the Capulets, so we played husband and wife.

EWL: We got asked back to come here, and to do Romeo and Juliet again, we came back here, but met Terry (Mann) and Charlotte (D'Amboise) in Paris before we started this.

KL: Yeah, we went and took a vacation.

EWL: So, it's been a wild adventure. Even when we do get a little edgy with each other, we know that this won't last forever. We won't always work together.

KL: And seriously, there's not one day that we don't say, "You know, we're working on Broadway together." This is like a dream.

EWL: It's not been lost on us, the glory of it. I'm proud of us in that regard. We've really taken stock of it. We're really aware of how lucky we are.

KL: We're appreciative of it because we know it's not going to last.

EWL: We know it's not going to last forever. We're very proud of it and we're going to enjoy it and shout it to the stars. I think sometimes in your life when you have great experiences, you're so caught up in what's ahead that you don't concentrate on what you're actually existing in. We're trying to just enjoy it.

NR: I interviewed Nick Corley over the summer and I found out that you did Marie back in the readings.

EWL: That's right. It was `96.

NR: What was that like and how has the character evolved since then?

EWL: The story is that I worked with Nick. I know him as an actor and as a friend. We had done a variety of very funny jobs together - musical revues or whatever. He was asked by the Nederlanders to get a group of people together to come read this script. Truly, that's what it was. We all met in the basement of the John Houseman Theatre in early 1996. Carolee was there and I was there. We just all got together and read this piece. And then a couple months later they asked most of us back to do it again, and then again and again. Then I had to go in and audition for Marie. I had to go in and sing for Peter Hunt. The show was already booked for Broadway and we were doing a huge group sales thing. There were a few of us that Peter wanted to pre-approve because we were going to have larger roles in the group sales presentation. I went in and sang for them and did a few of the scenes. About two weeks later my agent was told that I was on hold, which basically means they're really, really interested but they can't offer you the job. I knew they were going to LA to meet other people. And I got it. It was just so fabulous to see it through from where it started which was just pages stapled together. Interestingly enough, Marie has very much stayed the same.

NR: That's what I thought. Now, Marguerite's changed...

EWL: Marguerite's changed quite a bit. Not in her intent but in the shape of the scenes, in the juxtaposition of the scenes, the way they are placed in the show. But she's still kind of the same sort of woman. Marie is very, very similar, which has been a good thing but also a drawback. I've done three versions and very little of my material has changed. But, I think you track my character much better now, from SP1 to SP2. It stayed the same from SP2 to SP3.

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Interview conducted and photographs by Nancy Rosati.

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