Shoshana Bean Is Lookin' for a Superhero
BY Charles Romaine
November 28 2008 12:00 AM ET
fascinating study in contrasts. She’s a Broadway
star, famous for her roles in Hairspray and
Wicked, but she can also bring the audience to
its feet at the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, as she did
when she performed with Brian McKnight at a tribute to
Aretha Franklin a few years ago. She now calls Los
Angeles home, but she grew up in Olympia, Wash., and
Portland, Ore. She went to college in Cincinnati before
moving to New York City, where she soon found herself
on the fast track to musical theater stardom.
first sit-down with Advocate.com -- coffee at Java
Detour, a new hot spot in the heart of West Hollywood,
a presumably quiet place to chat about her debut
album, Superhero, in stores December 2 -- almost
turned out to be a train wreck.
I showed up about
15 minutes early to make sure we could find a table,
and to my horror realized there was a Prop. 8
protest rally being held at the nearby
intersection of Robertson and Santa Monica. Obviously
I completely support the protest, but for the purposes of
this interview I was afraid the chanting and constant
horn honking might prove to be too much of a
distraction for Shoshana. I was a little embarrassed,
fearing she would expect me to have known about this,
but as soon as she walked in the door she alleviated
my concern. I tried to apologize for the chaos, but
she just smiled...
Shoshana Bean: This is awesome! Forgive me if I
talk too loud, I was on a plane and my ears are all plugged
Advocate.com:I heard you were in New York, doing a concert
version of Wicked. We did the fifth anniversary for Wicked
last night. It was so fun; it was all the cut scenes
and music. Stephanie J. Block, who played Elphaba, and
Jennifer Laura Thompson, who was one of my Glindas,
did the first act, and then Kate Reinders and I did the
I know you stepped in for Idina Menzel when she
broke her rib or something? I had been standing by for her for four months.
It was literally the last weekend of her run before I
was taking over.
What made you decide to move to Los Angeles?At the time I moved here I was working with a label and
management team that was based out here. I had
finished the run of Wicked, and I had finished the
tour. Moving to L.A. was something I had always wanted
to do. Right before I got Hairspray, I was like,
I’m coming to L.A. I had come out to
visit a friend, and more happened in, like, a week
networking-wise and connection-wise… This is where I
need to be! You can go have dinner someplace and meet
like 15 people. Then Hairspray and Wicked
happened. When the management team that I had been with
pretty much my whole run of Wicked said, "You
need to move to L.A. for us to make anything happen,"
I was like, "You don’t have to tell me twice."
I figured I’d give it two or three months to
see how it goes. And then once I got out here I was like,
"Why am I going to do that?" Because if nothing happens am I
just going to run home? I need to really move out
here, and I did; and I’m super happy here.
I felt like being
in New York, I was so involved in the theater community
for so many years…it’s impossible to extricate
yourself. Even when I am living out here I am flown
back in once a month or every couple months, to do
some benefit or gig or pinch-hit for somebody. It’s
impossible to really be focused on doing something
else, so I thought, I need to get as far away as
possible. There were too many times in my life
where I had started to do music and then been taken
away by another job. I needed to resist temptation.
So music has always been number one? Always! I went to school for musical theater
because I knew it was a way I could do music and go to
college at the same time. I guess I could have majored
in songwriting. I really didn’t think that this would
be the path I would follow, but once you get in it and
wrapped up in it…it’s sort of like a
fish in a stream.
You’re sort of lucky. The style of music you sing
and what you’re amazing at is what’s
popular in musical theater right now. Everything
is pop-rock. Twenty years ago everything was so legit. Well see, that’s just it though. That
stuff I can do and I love to do, but nobody ever
wanted to hear it, so I ended up in the more pop-rock
musicals; but I love some legit. I just don’t look
legit. I’m not going to get to play Eliza
Doolittle in My Fair Lady.