Barb Barsky is best known for originating the role of Norma Desmond in the Canadian Premiere of Sunset Boulevard, her much lauded turn as Mama Rose in the Arts Club Production of Gypsy and her seven Dora nominated performances including Mimi Schwinn in Acting Up Stage’s A New Brain.
What musical will you always remember for its choreography/dancing?
I have a great fondness for West Side Story, Sweet Charity and Chicago. But for me, the best marriage of dance and story will always be Michael Bennett’s A Chorus Line. The depiction of the dancer’s life was truthful and inspiring. Years ago I had the good fortune to be cast by Mr. Bennett in the first national company, and I remember the audition as if it were yesterday. We were all asked not to chew gum (as per the actual script) and to do a triple time step and a double turn. Even though these are the most basic of steps, they remain the great leveler. “Hello Twelve,” “The Music and The Mirror,” and of course, “One”… brilliant.
What musical will you always remember for its music?
I have always been a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim, who isn’t? I was in the Broadway company of Anne of Green Gables and with only a few nights off I wandered into the theatre to see a production I had heard about, but about which I knew nothing. It was written by the composer of West Side Story and Gypsy. That show was the original production of Follies. This work of genius will remain with me forever, the music was incredibly full of hope, despair, nostalgia and human emotion, the depth of which I had never heard in the context of music theatre. It was a revelation.
What musical will you always remember for its book/virtuosic acting?
I believe the universal consensus would have to be Gypsy. The book is wonderful and could easily stand on its own.
What’s your dream role that you will never get to play?
Well, with the confluence of age, opportunity, and gender, I always thought I would love to play Billy Bigelow [in Carousel]. Soliloquy is one of the most riveting [songs] in the musical theatre canon, I would kill to sing it!
What showtune makes you drop whatever you’re doing and bust a groove?
I kinda love American Idiot, I hope that qualifies?!
Next Thursday we get inside the head of Music Director Paul Sportelli.