There are some people who simply light up any space they fill at any given time. Susan Egan always fills life's spaces with light. Susan has been acting and singing and dancing all her life and has conquered every area of the entertainment world since leaving the Orange County High School of Arts (UCLA) after 3 and a half years for a national tour. Her time there included winning the Carol Burnett Award. Since 1991 this petite brunette has made numerous TV and film appearances. However, it is Susan's life on stage across the USA from the Hollywood Bowl to Broadway, which has seen her greatest successes.
Over the years, Susan has starred opposite stars as diverse as Barry Bostwick, Carol Burnett, Jennifer Garner and F. Murray Abraham. However, it is Susan's diversity both on and off stage, which really showcases her broad palette of talents. Over the years Susan has not only done a lot of voice-over work, but has also worked with the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, by helping him translate his amazing animations into English. The magical Spirited Away went on to win the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animation.
You will also find Susan singing on numerous Broadway cast albums and Hollywood soundtracks. Over the last decade Susan has also released three solo albums including Coffee House which recently won an online vocalist of the year award from www.TalkinBroadway.com
In recent years, Susan has also established her own website:
This terrific site gives movie fans and music lovers a wonderful insight into the life of this beautiful performer. There are great photos from shows like Thoroughly Modern Millie to video clips from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Extracts from songs like Both Sides Now and Wuthering Heights are a real highlight and well worth a listen...
I recently caught up with Susan and was able to tear her away from her hectic schedule long enough to answer my questions. Susan is as vibrant off stage as the angel you may have been lucky enough to have seen on Broadway.
David: Do you recall the circumstances of your first autograph request and how the moment went for you?
Susan: What a great question -- I've never thought about the first request, but it actually came when I was in high school. My senior year we did a production (probably not legally) of Mary Poppins; I played Mary, and so many young girls came to the show and wanted to meet the characters. We came out in costume and I signed "Mary Poppins" on their programs. :) It was great!
David: What is the funniest thing which has happened to you while performing on stage?
Susan: So many things... but folks like this one the best. Near the end of ACT I of Beauty and the Beast, the Beast chases me through the castle, grabs my arm, and rips the sleeve of my dress by accident -- all in a mistaken effort to apologize for yelling earlier. ANYWAY, one night Terry Mann (playing the Beast) grabbed my sleeve as usual, only this time he had my ponytail in his hand, too. He didn't know it, and when he pulled, he yanked my whole wig off my head!!! I felt right then and there that I had just sent 1100 children into therapy. :) Yikes.
David: Do you collect autographs, and if so what are some of your favourite treasures?
Susan: Funny, but I've never collected them. I was too shy when I was younger to ask for them. =) But over the years I've received a few through notes or letters. My favorite -- a lovely note from John Kander, an inscription in book from Stephen Sondheim, and my all time favorite is a little note Barry Bostwick sent to me for my Beauty and the Beast opening. He and I had done a pretty terrible movie together, but it caught me completely off-guard that he even knew I was IN B&B, let alone that it was my opening night. So classy and gracious of him to send me well-wishes. =) And on such cool stationary, that I had some made in it's likeness with my name -- I still use it today. :)
David: You are Tony nominated stage actress who has made the characters of Sally Bowles, Millie Dillmount and Belle Beaumont all your own over the last decade. What Broadway character would you give your eye-teeth to play now?
Susan: I was never told Belle had a last name. How interesting. =)
Okay, to answer your question, I get asked this a lot, and it's tricky. I enjoy new work the most, so the character I'm dying to play is probably still in the minds of a writer somewhere. :) I like strong women and great stories. Something that makes people think (like Cabaret), something that stays with them for a long time after, something with a tremendous cast. Things like this tend to sway me. :)
David: Nowadays you must be regarded as one of the most versatile performers in North America with a CV which includes singing/dancing/acting/voice over/teaching/artistic director. What directions are you planning (do you plan!!!) to take your career over the coming decade?
Susan: Branching out a bit. I'm taking a big break from Broadway to explore a bit. I'd like to write more. I'd like to take the knowledge I have and use it in new genres: hosting, producing, writing, who knows? =) I have many irons in the fire and it will be interesting to see what comes next. I have to say that I was feeling a bit stagnant doing theatre alone. 8 shows a week is a schedule that doesn't allow for much else, and I feel like 12 years of it has taught me as much as it can. I also would love to be a mother, so hopefully that will happen as well. But I will always sing. The concerts I'm doing now are plain fun -- I won't give that up. :)
David: What did you enjoy most from working on the TV series, Nikki? And which of today’s TV shows would you most like to appear on?
Susan: I wasn't terribly fond of the level of writing on Nikki (no fault of the writers themselves)-- I had higher hopes. Producer Bruce Helford is wonderful and has been part of countless one-of-a-kind shows (Drew Carey, Roseanne, George Lopez); his vision for Nikki was new and interesting to me, which is why I took it. But we landed on WB and Bruce's vision was never allowed to take root. Too much interference from a network with a different agenda. SO we never really grew into anything. Being there 2 years, what I found to enjoy was the quick format of doing a sitcom, the incredible production team (Gene Kelly's nephew, Mike Kelly, was our 1st AD (head of the tech side)). Loved the cast. Loved being on the Warner Bros lot, watching George Clooney play basketball (Ocean's 11 filmed in the stage next door). A show I'd love to be on now is HOUSE.
David: What things, apart from performing, give you joy?
Susan: Family. Marriage. Love. Learning. Reading. Animals.
David: Do you ever see forged signatures on photos on sites like eBay? How do you deal with this problem?
Susan: Never seen one that was forged -- just slightly annoyed that the autographs I give or send (costing me for the price of the photo or sometimes stamp) are making others money. I don't really deal with it as it's not high on my list of annoyances (I'm a big believer of "picking your battles"), but I do try to personalize everything I sign to make it less generic, and thus less likely to be on eBay. :)
David: If any person in history could sign their autograph for you, who would you ask and what would have them write in their dedication?
Susan: I am currently obesessed with Colonial American history -- so John Adams comes to mind. I don't know what I'd like him to say, I find if you leave that to the signer it's always more interesting. :) And frankly, I'd rather have an hour conversation than an autograph.
David: What story or moment from your life best describes Susan Egan the person?
Susan: Wow. I can't recall a specific story or moment. I'd like to think what describes me best is taking time for people. I admit I am a rushed and over-ambitious person with my time, but I do take a great deal of it to connect with people (strangers) at stage doors, on line, through the mail, anywhere I find them, or they find me. I'd like to think that taking a moment makes a difference in their experience, and perhaps they will in turn give someone else a bit of time, a connection, a clear look in the eye. Being seen and heard is very important, I feel like so many people have given me an enormous amount of attention, I want to return it and let them know how improtant they are as well. Each one of us is vital. And we each can do small things that make big impacts.
David: What is the craziest or funniest or strangest thing you have done in your life that none of your fans know about (yet!!!)
Susan: I'm so open -- to a fault, really -- I'm trying to think! Okay, this probably borders on abuse, BUT I once wrapped my lips on my dog Willa's nose, and blew as hard as I could, to get her jowls to flap ... they did and it totally devastated my mother with laughter. :) She needed a good laugh and this seemed like a good way to go about it. It was HI-larious. Willa is so patient with me.
David: Are there any thoughts, which you would like to share with your many, many fans across the globe?
Susan: I'm enjoying this crazy and interesting life in which I encounter so many different people. And I'm grateful for both the fans and the technology that allows for the communication. I have no idea where I'm going in this life -- I've stopped planning, because the journey never goes where you expect anyway. I'm enjoying the ride of it and also believe we each need to do our small part to create better experiences for people. Whether it's being kind with the grocery store clerk or listening to your younger brother ... whatever it is, people walk away from you with either more energy or less. Let's make it more. :)
(C) David Priol 2006
Photos Copyrighted to their various owners.