1956. Elvis, Johnny, Carl, Jerry Lee, Sam, Jay, Fluke and ...... Dyanne? Yes one of these things is not like the other. In a cast of eight, I play the only lady. Now when I was first cast in this production and heard that I would be working with a handful of men, believe me, I was excited. Not because I don't like working with women, but because I thought to myself what a cool and rare opportunity to be surrounded on stage with men. Yup, a stageful of attractive men. It's not everyday that this kind of a show is written. I knew the job would be difficult, but some woman had to do it.
Being the only woman in this show was never an issue for me. I remember coming into rehearsal the first day and being nervous that I'd be working with only guys, but once we
got on our feet and starting working through the music, we became a unit and more like a band. It's been that way ever since. The guys have always treated me as an equal and I felt the way I earned their respect was to come in, rock out my songs, have a few whiskeys (or a bottle) after the work day was done and we'd be all good. So far it's worked like a charm.
I'm a pretty goofy person and love to make people laugh. During one of the first rehearsals I was messing around on stage with the guys and pretending that I was in an opera. Our musical director, Chuck Mead, heard me and decided we would use that in the show. So during Johnny Cash's "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky," Dyanne is singing angelic like background music which adds to the authenticity of the show. Many people probably don't realize but Dyanne's vocal parts in this show are all over the map. She sings jazz, melt your face off belty rock and then operatic notes at the end. It's all fun to me and makes playing the part that much more interesting.
This show definitely has a different vibe from other shows I've worked based on the fact that we are a group of musicians. I've worked in a bunch of bands and performed on stage with musicians that play everything from death metal to Handel. Because of this I felt I fit right in to this "band like" atmosphere. Most of the people onstage are musicians first which is really different than most Broadway shows. The first few weeks of rehearsal was solely based on learning the music. Almost every character not only has to sing and act, but they have to play an instrument throughout the whole show. It's a lot to learn! I was lucky because I only play the tambourine. But I remember when I first picked it up, I could barely play it. Now I never want to put it down. I play a mean tambourine!
I am so lucky to be amongst some of the best musicians in the business. These guys make my job very easy and such a blast! I can truly say that this is one of the most exciting shows I've ever done and it is due to the fact that everything is played live, and these guys can really kick ass! Every night feels like a new show because it is live music and live theatre combined. We've had strings break, microphones go out, amps not work. You name it, it's happened. The show must go on, and we always figure out a way to do it.
I've been doing this show for a long time. I started as an original cast member in Chicago in October of 2008. Most actors will never get an opportunity to play the same role for longer than a few months. Because I've been doing it so long, Dyanne has evolved. I know much more about the music of the 50's. I learned more about the culture and the lifestyle of the 50's. How women fit in and their roles in society. I will say this though, as much as I've learned about the 50's, I do believe that Elvis brought this woman to the sessions because she would be fun to be with and she'd be able to hang with the guys. I try to stay true to that and bring that part to the stage.
One of the most common questions I am asked about Dyanne is if she was real and was she there that night. Yes and yes. That is what makes it that much more real. Elvis brought a woman and she went on to do her own thing in life. She didn't write a book or try to gain anything from her brief relationship with Elvis. I always keep this in the back of my mind while I'm on stage because to me that means she must have been confident in herself and could hold her own. I believe that is what Dyanne brings to the stage. I say, let's do a shot to that!