We interviewed musical theatre actor Ali Ewoldt to find out what she has been doing since COVID hit and where she would go on a road trip, accompanied by her favorite cast album.
Where: What city are you in currently?
Ewoldt: New York City
Where: What was that last theatrical project you were working on and in what capacity?
Ewoldt: The last Broadway show I was in was “The Phantom of the Opera.” I played Christine for about two and a half years, ending in November 2018. The last theatrical project I worked on was a bit 2020 specific -- it is a virtual production of “Meet Me in St. Louis” with the Irish Repertory Theatre. I played Rose Smith and filmed my entire performance from my apartment in front of a green screen while communicating with my director and fellow actors over Zoom!
Where: How long have you been doing what you do?
Ewoldt: I've been a professional actor for about 16 years-- time has flown! I worked on “Meet Me in St. Louis” for four days of Zoom rehearsal and 10 days of filming from home.
Where: What is cool, different, or important about that project?
Ewoldt: I so appreciate the Irish Rep's bravery and innovation in creating a theatrical experience safely during this time. Our cast was phenomenally talented and beautifully diverse. We all also had to be our own videographers, set dressers, lighting technicians, etc., which was a challenge we met by championing and supporting each other, even from a distance.
Where: What are some other shows you’ve been involved with and which one is closest to your heart?
Ewoldt: Playing Christine in Phantom was a life-long dream come true. I was very fortunate to be there during the 30th Anniversary celebrations and to work with most of the original creative team during my time there (Hal Price, Gillian Lynne, Andrew Lloyd Webber). I made my Broadway debut in 2006 playing Cosette in "Les Misérables" and that is very close to my heart as well. It was one of the first Broadway shows I saw and fully memorized from beginning to end as a child. I did the National Tour before our Broadway Revival and have so many fond memories of our adventures.
Where: What cast album would you want to listen to on a road trip and, with the length of the album in mind, where would you go?
Ewoldt: Well, I think that has to be Les Misérables!
Where: Why did you choose that album?
Ewoldt: Les Mis is just so fun to sing along with. That may sound strange given how, well, miserable, all of the characters are, but the music is incredible and the drama is so much fun to dig into. My extended family (cousins, aunts and uncles) used to blast it in the car and sing our hearts out together. Another reason Les Mis has felt particularly appropriate during this time is that despite all of the characters struggling through incredibly difficult circumstances throughout, the final message of the show is hopeful. I spent the first four months of the pandemic at my parents' house in the suburbs and ended up making a Les Misérables themed neighborhood video for this very reason.
Where: What are your favorite songs?
Ewoldt: Obviously the ballads are wonderful and very famous. But I love the opening chain gang, any conflict involving Valjean and Javert, the scene where Thenardier tries to rob Valjean's house and Eponine stops him. It's a very long list.
Where: Would you sing along?
Ewoldt: I think I would have a very very hard time not bursting into song.
Where: Where would you stop along the way and why?
Ewoldt: I'd have to visit my parents in Pleasantville which is indeed a real place and is indeed very pleasant. I'd also love to take a detour up to New Haven, CT to visit my alma mater, Yale University. In the summer, I’d head up to The Berkshires when the Tanglewood Festival is happening. But, right now, when everything is closed I’d stick to Pleasantville and New Haven.
Where: Would you take this trip solo or bring a friend?
Ewoldt: I think everything is better with friends!
The Road Trip
Here are some more recommendations to make your trip around the tri-state area a memorable one.
Pleasantville, New York
A beautiful Westchester town, just 31 miles north of New York City.
Rockefeller State Park Preserve has lots of carriage trails for hikers, runners, dog walkers and horse riders.
The Usonia Historic District is a planned community, adjacent to Pleasantville, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s perfect for driving through as long as you respect the privacy of the residents.
New Haven, Connecticut
Home of Yale University, one of the country’s top Ivy League schools.
The Original Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana – a worthy stop for their famous tomato pie and white clam pizza, dating from 1925.
An artist’s dream in Western Massachusetts with Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, The Berkshire Music Festival, Norman Rockwell Museum and much more.
Pleasant and Main – funky combo cafe, general store and antique shop, Housatonic.