If one of the hottest tickets on Broadway featured the work of two über-talented Westchesterites plus one mega-star in her first Broadway role since winning a Tony in 2004, then wouldn’t you want to see it ASAP? With music by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Byram Hills High School grad Tom Kitt (Next to Normal)—a current Tony nominee—and a charming performance by Tony Award-winning actress LaChanze (The Color Purple), a Mount Vernon resident of nine years, If/Then is such a show. The contemporary musical follows Elizabeth (portrayed by Idina Menzel, who also earned a Tony nomination), a woman nearing 40 who’s moved from the West to New York City for a fresh start. Parallel storylines depict two possibilities: “Liz” focusing on love and “Beth” focusing on work. We recently caught up with LaChanze—who plays Elizabeth’s neighbor, Kate, a teacher—about her return to the Great White Way.
Kate is outgoing, bubbly, very spirited, and full of life. She doesn’t think much before she speaks. I also enjoy being positive and optimistic but I’m not as aggressive as she is, for example, in encouraging her friend to go out with a stranger. I’m a little more skeptical; she’s more ‘let the chips fall where they may.’
No, but in a scene showing me teaching kindergarten students, I did to a degree pull from my resources as a mother who once had children that age in my life. My daughters are now 12 and 14.
I typically play roles in period pieces where women are struggling with dramatic episodes, so I am thrilled to play a modern character in New York who you might run into in the subway and a character that is full of hope. The character is happy—that’s a welcome change! I also get to show my comedic side and people say I’m funny.