Philippa Stefani on Playing Mimi in London’s Rent

first_img View Comments Philippa Stefani & Ross Hunter in ‘Rent'(Photo: Matt Crockett) Philippa Stefani has a wide-ranging list of musical credits that include Imagine This, Wicked, GhostI Can’t Sing! and In the Heights,  and now the performer is taking on the role of Mimi in director Bruce Guthrie’s new revival of Rent at the St James Theatre. caught the charming actress during her pre-London tour with Jonathan Larson’s era-defining show in time for a chat as all-encompassing as her career has been to date. What is it like doing Rent having been in the revised Rent Remixed almost a decade ago in the West End, alongside Oliver Thornton and Luke Evans? This feels brand new, partly because that was quite a while ago now and also because we’ve really stripped [the show] to the bare minimum to start again. We’ve gone to the core of the characters and started from there.Is it helpful to have had a prior association with so iconic a musical?Yes, in all sorts of ways. I was in Wicked in London with Idina Menzel and at the opening night, I met Taye Diggs, and that was really cool, so these connections keep popping up. Weren’t you understudying Mimi last time out, whereas you get to play her for real now? I was, and I think I went on maybe twice? But I’m not sure all those years ago that I was really ready to go to the depths of the character and do her justice; I don’t think then that I could have done the job that I’m doing now. It feels as if this has come at the right time.Aren’t you too young to have known the show from its original incarnation?Sure, but I was aware of it at college, so from my early 20s onwards, and I certainly knew the songs. I wasn’t that clued-up about the story, but when I got out into the industry, it came on to my radar a bit more. That’s what feels strange to me about approaching it again: although I’ve done it before and know the story, it still feels so fresh and relevant to things that are going on right now.Are you referring to Jonathan Larson’s much-needed celebration of diversity and inclusiveness?Exactly that, as we had with In the Heights, which I just finished at the King’s Cross Theatre. It’s nice again to be in a show with a cast so diverse, especially when we’re not going down the normal Rent route. Characters who were played by black actors before now are white or vice versa—or mixed-race. We’ve got a diverse mix in the show but not necessarily in the way it’s been done in the past. How do you feel about Mimi, having lived with her to varying degrees for so long? I think Mimi wears her heart on her sleeve—she lives for every single second. She doesn’t dwell in the past but lives for the now. I love the fact that she embraces every single second of life, but that she is so fragile as well. When she’s healthy and she’s living life, she’s charismatic and lovable, but as the second act happens, she falls into this spiral of drugs and addiction and loss.Do you find her decline difficult?It’s emotionally draining, which is a challenge in itself, but I just came to the point where I could handle it. The rehearsals were a lot and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to leave it onstage, but since we’ve been performing it, I appreciate that she has such an arc. It’s so rewarding to play because you’ve got to be able to do it all. You have to get at where she is from the start of the show to the very end. It’s a real journey. Have you redoubled your trips to the gym?The show is the gym but I do take care of myself. I haven’t had time for the gym while we’ve been on tour, but I certainly will be getting back to it when I have a bit of space in London. How do you feel about the fact that [original Rent star] Anthony Rapp will be performing downstairs in the St. James Theatre’s cabaret space during the first few weeks of your run upstairs?That’s just crazy, right? When we first found out, it was mind-blowing. I hope we get to meet him because it would just be great to have a chat and talk about it all. Looking back on In the Heights, was that show a game-changer for you?It really was: Daniela was just the most amazing part—she was like an exaggerated caricature of my normal personality, so not too far from me. And it was so much fun as well. We performed traverse-style with the audience on either side, and it was so nice to be able to get into people’s faces and live that moment. What was it like meeting Lin-Manuel Miranda?It was insane. We’d won three Olivier Awards, all of which were a massive deal for the cast, and then [Miranda] came with his wife Vanessa \ and gave a speech at the end. It was incredible. He was the most wonderful man. I’m just in awe of him as a person. Are you keeping an eye on Hamilton, opening in London next year?Auditions are happening at the moment so who knows? You never know. Whatever comes next is not really in my brain at the moment. Do you keep in touch with your I Can’t Sing! castmate Cynthia Erivo?| saw her when I was doing High Society at the Old Vic during summer 2015. She came to my last performance just before she was going to New York to start [The Color Purple]. What’s great about Cynthia is that when you have pinnacle moments like that in your life, you don’t necessarily know how you’re going to handle it, and she’s just absolutely smashing it. To have known someone and watch them fly is the most incredible thing. Are you surprised that you’re often referred to in print as Italian when you sound entirely English?I know but I think it’s that I look a lot more Sicilian than I do English, but it’s true that I was born and bred here.Are you related to American singer-songwriter Gwen Stefani?I’m not, but I get that a lot. Who knows whether someday our paths might cross? last_img read more

NAFCU to policymakers: 12 key issues for immediate action

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr This is placeholder text continue reading » This post is currently collecting data…center_img As the end of the year approaches, NAFCU’s government affairs team remains hard at work to secure even more wins and relief for the credit union industry. To help bolster these efforts, the association is leading the fight for action on 12 key issues that should be addressed in the congressional lame duck session and with regulators in the transition to a new administration.As credit unions work to serve over 122 million Americans and their communities, acting on these issues now will help them as they respond to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and economic recovery.Here is a look at the NAFCU 12; click each issue for more information and the latest:Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Reform: Ensure passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes long-sought BSA/AML reforms and improve the process for obtaining beneficial ownership information. House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., recently announced she had secured this provision in the conference committee’s final bill.last_img read more

UK’s largest scheme names chief pension officer

first_imgHelen McEwan, USS chief pensions officerBill Galvin, USS Group CEO, said: “This is a critical role, so I am delighted we have been able to appoint someone of Helen’s calibre and experience, who will add great value to our executive team and who will be able to build on the high standard of service that our pensions team already provides to our members.”McEwan said: “With its large scale I am also looking forward to supporting the scheme in driving forward its pension proposition, digital capability and taking its operational excellence to the next level.”McEwan joins USS a few months before the scheme’s chief investment officer, Roger Gray, is due to retire. The pension fund is in the process of appointing Gray’s successor.The scheme has been caught up in a dispute about the valuation of its liabilities for almost two years. It has completed its 2017 valuation, but has been consulting with employers and unions on a new one that could shrink the funding shortfall from £7.5bn to £3.8bn. Last week, UUK, which represents university employers, said it had written to USS with a summary of employer responses to the 2018 valuation consultation. Its understanding was that the scheme would consider the UUK response at a board meeting on 28 March.  The feedback from UUK included employer views on potential contingent contributions, after USS presented a framework for such an arrangement in early February. Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the pension fund for the UK’s higher education sector, has appointed Helen McEwan as its new chief pension officer.McEwan will take up the role on 1 April and will be based at the £64bn (€75bn) scheme’s office in Liverpool. She replaces Kevin Smith, who retired last year. According to USS, the chief pension officer is responsible for “all pensions-related activities”, including business and operational strategy, product development and delivery, operations, member communications, and client engagement.McEwan previously held a variety of senior roles at Aegon and has served on several executive boards, including that of pensions technology platform True Potential. She is also a non-executive director at The Exeter, a healthcare and protection insurance provider.last_img read more

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza Promises ‘Five More Years of Peace’

first_imgBurundian President Pierre Nkurunziza on Friday promised to deliver “five more years of peace” if he is re-elected next week, in the climax of a campaign marked by deadly street protests and an attempted coup.Addressing hundreds of supporters in northern Cibitoke province and protected by large numbers of police and troops, the president said only his ruling party delivers stability and promised the region new roads, a hospital, electricity and schools.“If you choose the CNDD-FDD you are sure of five more years of peace,” he told the gathering of at least 1 500 people in one of his last campaign rallies ahead of next Tuesday’s elections, in which he is almost assured of victory due to an opposition boycott.The crisis in the impoverished, landlocked country began in late April when Nkurunziza announced his intention to stand for a third consecutive five-year term, despite a constitutional two-term limit, sparking months of turmoil and a failed coup in mid-May. Opposition groups say another term would violate a peace deal that paved the way to end a dozen years of civil war in 2006. There are fears the current crisis could plunge the impoverished, landlocked country back into civil war.Around 100 people have been killed in more than two months of protests, with over 158 000 refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries, according to the UN.Rebel Burundian soldiers involved in the coup have also said they have been engaged in a recent spate of battles with the army in the north of the country, posing the threat of a full-scale armed rebellion following the election.Regional states have been trying to mediate between the government and the opposition, although talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni this week ended without a deal, and fresh talks were held on Friday with Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga as mediator.But sources said the talks remain tense, with the government pushing ahead with its plan to go ahead with the polls on July 21 and ignoring demands for a delay.“If the government continues like this, there doesn’t seem to be any point in negotiating,” said opposition leader Charles Nditije, accusing the government of “pushing the country into an even deeper crisis.”Nkurunziza’s ruling party scored a widely-expected landslide win in parliamentary polls held on May 29, but these were boycotted by the opposition and condemned internationally as neither free nor fair.last_img read more

At least 23 killed in Japan typhoon

first_imgTOKYO – At least 23 people were killedwhile 16 others were missing after one of the worst typhoons hit Japan inrecent history, according to public broadcaster NHK. In Fukushima, north of the capital,Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T) reported irregular readings from sensorsmonitoring water in its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant overnight. The plantwas crippled by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.(Reuters) The government added that around425,000 homes were without power, reviving fears of a repeat of weeks-longpower outages suffered after another typhoon hit east of Tokyo last month.  An aerial view shows a Japan Self-Defense Force helicopter flying over residential areas flooded by the Chikuma river following Typhoon Hagibis in Nagano, central Japan on Oct. 13 in this photo taken by Kyodo. MANDATORY CREDIT KYODO/VIA REUTERScenter_img Around 27,000 members of Japan’sself-defense forces, firefighters, police, and coast guard members were sent torescue stranded people on Sunday as Typhoon Hagibis, which left vast swaths oflow-lying land in central and eastern Japan, inundated and cut power to almosthalf a million homes, the government said. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened anemergency meeting of relevant ministers and sent the minister in charge ofdisaster management to the affected areas. last_img read more

October 5, 2017 Police blotter

first_imgOctober 5, 2017 Police blotter100517 Batesville police Blotter100517 Decatur County EMS Report100517 Decatur County Fire Report100517 Decatur County Jail Report100517 Decatur County Law Reportlast_img

Smith joins elite ‘five-in-five club’

first_imgAUSTRALIA’S superstar skipper Steve Smith had joined another exclusive group of batsmen following his brilliant hundred in the first Test against India in Pune.Smith made 109 in the second innings to help set his team up for a crushing 333-run victory over the hosts, handing Australia a shock one-nil lead in the four-match series.It was his 18th Test hundred, of which just two have been scored in the second innings, while it was also his fifth century in consecutive matches against India.The 27-year-old is just the fifth player in Test history to score five straight hundreds against the same opposition, joining an elite list of names: Sir Donald Bradman, Shoaib Mohammad, Neil Harvey and Jacques Kallis.Smith hit a hundred in each match of the four-Test series against India in the home summer of 2014-15, captaining Australia for the first time in the absence of an injured Michael Clarke and stamping himself as one of the next great batsmen in the sport.His average against India now stands at 88.83 from seven matches, with five hundreds and three fifties.In this category, as in others, Bradman of course remains above the pack; the benchmark of batting greats made six straight centuries against England between 1937 and 1938 – a run that was only ended with an ankle injury that ruled him out of batting at The Oval in August of ’38.The onset of World War Two meant the next time he faced his Ashes rivals was at home in the summer of 1946-47, and while the political landscape had shifted, the cricket scene remained very much the same – Bradman hit 187 and 234 in the opening two Tests to make it eight hundreds in his previous 10 innings against the Old Enemy.Fifteen years later it was another Australian who joined Bradman in rarefied air, with Harvey plundering the South Africans for four straight hundreds in the summer of 1949-50, and then adding a fifth on home soil in December 1952 to keep the streak going.The imperious left-hander was ‘only’ able to add 60 in his next Test against the Proteas, before making up for that with scores of 190, 84, 116 and 205 across the following three matches in a phenomenal sequence of scoring.Bradman and Harvey stood alone in the ‘five-in-five club’ until Pakistan’s Shoaib Mohammad made it five straight against the Kiwis in two series between February 1989 and October 1990.The first two came in New Zealand when the determined right-hander made 163 and 112, before putting the Black Caps to the sword once again some 20 months later, with 203 n.o., 105 and 142 in the three-Test series.South African run-machine Kallis made the most of the decline of the West Indies’ empire when he scored tons for fun against the Caribbean side between December 2003 and March 2005.In four Tests at home, he made 158, 177, 130 n.o. and 130 n.o. and while he made a duck in the first innings of his next match against the Windies in Georgetown 14 months later, he kept the scoring spree going with 109 second time around.Smith, in superb form with the bat and evidently relishing the challenge of facing India’s much-vaunted spin duo of Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on their home tracks, now has a chance to go it alone with Bradman in the ‘six-in-six club’ when the two sides again square off in Bengaluru from March 4.last_img read more

RHTYSC, BCB launch Basil Butcher Trust Project

first_img… share out 500 hampers, assist family whose house fellTHE ten cricket teams of Guyana’s leading youth and sports club, Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club (RHTYSC MS), in conjunction with the Berbice Cricket Board (BCB), recently launched another project to make a positive difference in the lives of the less fortunate in Berbice.Teams – Poonai Pharmacy Under-12, Under-13, Farfan & Mendes Under-15, Bakewell Under-17 and Second Division, Pepsi Under-19 and Intermediate Metro Females and NAMILCO Under-21 and First Division with the blessings of the family of the late Guyana and West Indies batting legend have launched the Basil Butcher Trust Project.With the cooperation of the proactive BCB, the teams have to date shared out over 500 food hampers in the West Berbice, New Amsterdam, Canje, Lower Corentyne and Upper Corentyne and have assisted the family of Ms Roopranie Latchminarine of No. 67 Village, whose house collapsed during a recent storm.Secretary/CEO of the RHTYSC and president of the BCB, Hilbert Foster, said the late Basil Butcher was a very close friend of the club and played a major role in the development of its cricket section and charity outreach programme.The management sought and was granted permission by the Butcher Family to honour the memory of the veteran of 44 Test matches for the West Indies.Butcher scored 3 104 runs at an average of 43.10 with seven centuries and 16 half-centuries. His highest Test score was a brilliant 209 not out versus England. He scored 11 628 runs at the first-class level with 31 centuries and 54 half-centuries at an amazing average of 49.90After his retirement at the age of 36 in 1969, Butcher served Guyana and West Indies cricket as an administrator with great success. The teams and BCB intend to assist dozens of less fortunate players with cricket gear such as batting gloves, batting pads and wicket-keeping gloves. Bicycles would also be given to less fortunate students in an effort to enable them to attend school regularly when it reopens after the corona virus pandemic.RHTYSC, with the support of Blossom Butcher, has opened a Go Fund Me account in the United States to raise funds for the project.Foster led an eight-man delegation to distribute the hampers and also handed over a special donation of food items, clothing, footwear, household and kitchen utilities to the Latchminarine family.Foster committed the club and the board to assisting the family in the future and wished them well as they try to carry on with their lives after the family house fell during a storm.He urged them to remain strong in their faith in God. The team also shared out food hampers in the No. 65 Squatting Area where dozens of families live in poor conditions.RHTYSC and BCB over the last four months have shared out 21 000 pounds of chicken products, cleaning supplies and hundreds of face masks as part of the coronavirus response programme.Foster has stated that as long as he remains head of both organisations they would be involved in activities to make a positive difference.The cricket teams would like to express gratitude to all the donors to the effort including NAMILCO, Bounty Farm, Farfan and Mendes Ltd and Bakewell.last_img read more

DeKeyser brings familiar feel in place of Johnson

first_imgThe Wisconsin women\’s hockey team has struggled early on without Mark Johnson, despite the familiarity with new head coach Tracey DeKeyser.[/media-credit]Interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser has been with the team since the beginning. Now, in its 11th season, it’s finally her turn to be in charge.DeKeyser has been a part of the Wisconsin women’s hockey program since it first took the ice in 1999. Being a constant figure in the program, DeKeyser was given the chance to manage the team this year as head coach Mark Johnson takes a one-year sabbatical to coach the United States 2010 Olympic team.Throughout the last 10 years, DeKeyser has worked hard to stay in Madison despite coaching chances elsewhere. After attending graduate school at UW and sticking with the program, DeKeyser feels her dedication to the team is evident, and she feels privileged to finally be the head coach.“It’s really an honor to be in a position like this at a school like this,” DeKeyser said. “I’m here after 10 years of opportunities that have come up elsewhere; I’ve gone to grad school, and I’ve done different things to remain here at Madison. Hopefully, that speaks to my interest and my adoration of the program and what’s going on here.”Having been a part of the team for so long, DeKeyser already has established a relationship with the program and the team. Instead of adjusting to a completely unknown coach, the team and DeKeyser are already comfortable with each other and are able to work hard using the same systems they have in the past.UW senior goaltender Alannah McCready mentioned that practices are run generally the same as with Johnson, but DeKeyser’s coaching style is a little bit different. Fellow senior forward Kyla Sanders also noted the difference with DeKeyser bringing more energy but as dedicated to the team as always.“She’s really easy to talk to, and she’s very vocal,” Sanders said. “She’s always there to help you out and everything.”While UW senior captain Jasmine Giles feels the transition has been hard with the new coaching — not only in DeKeyser but the assistant coaches as well — a few other players feel it has been easy considering how long DeKeyser has been with the team.“She’s been here forever,” junior forward Mallory Deluce said. “It’s been easy, no problems.”Although she has kept many things the same, DeKeyser also is trying to bring in some new things. With the help of new assistant coaches Jackie Friesen and Peter Johnson, DeKeyser is trying to blend in some new drills and some variety, but also keep a balance with things her team is familiar with.“I think we’ve brought some variety to the program,” DeKeyser said. “At the same time, we’re trying to balance between new and old and familiar. With familiar [things] comes confidence, and you can only do so much new stuff without it being overwhelming.”While the transition from Johnson to DeKeyser has been smooth for the most part, it has not yet produced the same caliber of team the Badgers have been known to be for the past few years.Although the team is ranked No. 6 nationally, the Badgers hold just a 7-4-1 record overall, while going 5-3 in the WCHA. The team has been struggling to beat inferior opponents and has split all but two series — in one of the two, they walked away with only a tie and in the other a win. Despite these struggles, the team feels it’s headed in the right direction.“We just have to learn how to come together as a team, incorporate her new things into our team and how we run our team so we can push forward,” McCready said.It’s normal to see teams have difficulties when a new coach is brought in, but for the Badgers, DeKeyser is a well-known face and she has just brought in a few new things that have made the transition from Mark Johnson to this season a little more difficult.It takes some time to get used to a new coach — no matter how familiar they are — but DeKeyser has welcomed the opportunity.“For Mark [Johnson] — one of the best coaches in the world — to place the program in my hands, it’s really very touching,” DeKeyser said. “It’s been fun, it’s been a challenge. We’ve had a different jigsaw puzzle to work with this year, but I think the pieces are finally coming together.”last_img read more

Grinding Gears: Coliseum change abandons history

first_imgEric He | Daily TrojanOn Monday, USC announced a new naming rights deal for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with United Airlines, signing over the name of the historic sporting venue in exchange for $69 million. At base level, this is a simple argument. The deal is an easy way to make cash, and we all know USC loves cash. But look at the optics. Look at what we’re going to be calling the Coliseum — this hallowed landmark, the home of two Olympic Games (and soon to be a third in 2028) from now on: the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum. Yuck. First off, they literally replaced “Los Angeles” with “United Airlines.” That just sounds pathetic, and honestly, nobody will ever say the words, “What a great game we saw at the United Airlines Memorial Coliseum last night!” I wouldn’t say those words even if United paid me a royalty every time I uttered their company’s name. Second, of all the airlines out there, it is United, a company best-known for always coming through with that clutch, three-hour flight delay and for dragging screaming passengers off of planes. Lord help us if they ever overbook games at the Coliseum. In all seriousness, this decision boiled down to USC putting profits over tradition, sacrificing history to make a few bucks. Immediate reactions on social media were, as expected, not so popular. But University president C. L. Max Nikias felt proud enough to post not one, not two, but three pictures on his Instagram account from Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony of a $270 million renovation project at the Coliseum, where he also announced the naming rights deal. “L.A. Coliseum was one of the few classy stadiums with no corporate name left,” one commenter responded. “Too bad.” That is true. We’re used to referring to stadiums by their corporate names by now — STAPLES Center, Petco Park, Levi’s Stadium. That’s why these companies break the bank to have their names in big letters: It is an advertising tool that is almost guaranteed to gain attention. But there is something to be said about keeping a stadium’s traditional name. Usually, these are historical sporting venues that a casual fan might know: Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Yankee Stadium in New York, Fenway Park in Boston, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Before the San Francisco 49ers moved to Levi’s Stadium, they played for decades at Candlestick Park, a stadium located on Candlestick Point, known for its windy, bone-chilling and terrible conditions, but also for hosting the 49ers dynasty of the 1980s that featured multiple Super Bowl runs, as well as the infamous 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s that was interrupted by the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Its name endeared itself so deeply with San Francisco residents that after two highly criticized naming rights deals, residents voted for a proposition to restrict the team’s ability to sell its naming rights. “It was a dump,” former 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark once said of Candlestick Park, “but it was our dump.” Compared to other, newer college football stadiums, the Coliseum might, too, be considered “a dump.” The seats are old and rusty, the concourse looks corroded and — speaking for a friend here — the press box needs an upgrade (read: air conditioning!). So, this $270 million makeover is necessary. “If we’re not changing and moving forward, then we’re stagnant and other schools will pass us up and we won’t be relevant in terms of our facilities,” Athletic Director Lynn Swann said. “There’s a need for change every step of the way.” Swann also added that United’s partnership was key to funding the renovations, which adds to the conundrum. At a school like USC, where boosters and alumni almost always stand behind tradition and legacy, is selling the name of the historic Coliseum worth it to maintain and renovate that piece of tradition? Sadly, in this day and age, where everything must be modern, sleek and state-of-the-art, the answer is yes. Despite the fact that “Los Angeles” is literally being removed from the name, the fact that the sponsor is my least favorite airline and the fact that no one will ever call the stadium by its new official name, this deal is a necessary evil for USC to undergo. Just remember, though, that the Coliseum should,  and will, always remain just that — the Coliseum. It is forever and ever “our dump.” It belongs to us, not to an airline company. Eric He is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism. His column, “Grinding Gears,” runs Thursdays.last_img read more