Monday, January 5, 2015

Interview: Rachelle "SAS" Rak Opens Up About Fierce Perseverance Through an Extensive Gypsy Career

Last week, I got to talk to my favorite Broadway gypsy, Rachelle Rak for BroadwayWorld.com* regarding her show at 54 Below this month. Below, check out our conversation in which she really opens up and pulls out all the stops regarding the business of Broadway, the affects of Hollywood stars, and more. I highly recommend sharing this segment with anyone who wants to be in the Broadway industry!

You’re a seasoned triple-threat with lots of Broadway credits, national tours, and pretty much everything, and along the way, you’ve worked with some big names in show business. So what are some things that you’ve really learned from on your journey?

Oh let’s see, where to begin?! Well first of all, I was in Starlight Express in 1988 or 1989 when I was 18, and I remember this, that Arlene Phillips came up to me- and this is a harsh lesson- and grabbed my waistline and said, “What’s this?” I’m telling you, 18 years old, that stuff sticks with you. But first of all, it’s not a negative. Arlene Phillips kind of toughened me up to know, “Oh, ok, you have to be fit.” I feel like doing Cats and doing Starlight Express, those Lloyd Webber shows very early, I had a resilience that just, I could do anything. That’s what I thought, because I had such stamina. And I’m grateful for that.
And this business is always about, “Me! Pick me! Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough?" It’s exhausting. And I say that with tone, because after 25 years, you’re like, “I like me. It’s ok if you don’t.”  
It takes the resilience and discipline to get good and then to get great. And for me, I’m still not there. I’m like, I just want to keep getting better. 
Every step I take, I’m trying to grow. Even if I fall, even if I embarrass myself, I’m going to laugh at it, and move forward. That’s where I’m at.
And then after being featured in the original Broadway cast of Fosse, I remember people saying, “Well you’re not going to go back into the chorus, are you?” And I was like, “I like to work! I want to be a part of the show.”

And then you have all the movie stars stepping into leading roles on Broadway. But thank God we have the Sutton Fosters who went up from Broadway, which is wonderful! But it’s getting harder and harder to get those parts, because Hollywood is on Broadway a lot more. And it’s like, if there’s not a star, is it going to sell? And it’s sad to me.

For sure. You’ve been in a few shows that were considered flops, like your most recent one Catch Me If You Can.

Oh, so heartbreaking! I mean, people think once you’re in a Broadway show, it’s “What show are you doing next?” It’s very hard. And I’m not looking for empathy, but just because you’re in one show does not mean you get the next one.
Life works that way, where you work really hard, you get a promotion. Broadway does not work that way. 
Last week I saw my friends in Side Show. And I thought it was a fantastic show, and it just shows me, I’m like, “What is Broadway doing wrong that they can’t keep these amazing shows open?”

And with so many different choreographers, they all have their groups, and to break into that group it can be tricky. So when you do, you better ride it out and enjoy it. I always feel for the underdogs, because somebody gave me a shot when I was 17 years old, had no resume. I was in high school. So when new people are coming to New York, I always hope that someone takes a shot on someone new with nothing on their resume, but with a lot of guts and a lot of heart, because that’s how I started.
There’s a lot of students who are not learning to dance, sing, and act and do all three well, because they want to be the one singing the solo. I wanted to be in the game. I wanted to be in the show. 
My husband still can’t understand that you go into auditions, maybe for your fourth audition, and sometimes they don’t call you that you didn’t get it. It’s just done. They don’t say, “Thank you for the four times and 27 trips that you made.” 
And if I write a book, and I’m working on it, it’s going to be called, It is Personal, because it is personal. It is everything about who you are.
Check Singular Sensation in the coming weeks for more from Rachelle Rak!

Rachelle Rak in Sas with one 'S'™ plays 54 Below (254 West 54th Street) on Sunday, January 4, 2015 and Thursday, January 29, 2015. There is a $30-40 cover charge and $25 food and beverage minimum. Tickets and information are available at www.54Below.com. Tickets on the day of performance after 4:00 are only available by calling (646) 476-3551.

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

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*Italicized content was published on BroadwayWorld.com here while un-italicized content is exclusively on Singular Sensation!

Make sure to read the whole interview on BroadwayWorld.com* here

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