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An Interview With...Leslie Pellegrino-Lent

How did you get started in theater?
I was about 5 years old and the Director of my
church play "Emmanuel" asked me to be in the
show and told me I would have a solo...I was
hooked from then on.

What hooked you? Was it your first school play-
movie-first time seeing a Broadway Show? 
What inspired you to be where you are today?
I wasn't the healthiest of kids so I stayed home from school a Mom used to rent musicals for me.  The first two were "West Side Story" and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers".  They are still two of my favorites.

What was the first play you ever saw?  Ever performed in? 
The first play I ever performed in (outside of church) was Bye Bye Birdie.


Speaking of pre-casting, tell us how you really feel about the subject. 
Pre-casting, that's a touchy subject with some people.  I personally don't mind if people are pre-cast as long as those who are auditioning are made aware of this ahead of time.  

What types of parts do you normally play?  Do you feel typecast? 
I usually end up playing the sweet little love interest.  I do feel typecast sometimes because of my looks.  It's easy for people to see me as the "sweet and innocent" characters with blonde hair and blue eyes.  But hey, I'm not complaining.  Although I would like the opportunity to play the "not so nice" role once in a while.


Of all the characters you have portrayed, who is your favorite? 
That's a toss up: Polly in "Crazy for You".  She's feisty and reminds me a lot of me, and Gladys in "Pajama Game" because it was my first opportunity to really dance.

What do you think were your best roles?  your worst?
Again, I would have to say my best role was worst is probably Grace Farrell in "Annie" the character just goes no where.

What roles offered you the greatest challenge and why?  How well do you think you met the challenge?
I had to jump into the role of Anna in "The King and I" at intermission when the lead was rushed to the hospital.  I went on having never seen the production, script in hand.  I was then told that Thursday afternoon that she was still in the hospital and I would have to do the show for the weekend.  I sat down that Friday and memorized to the best of my ability the entire show by that night.  I was never so nervous in my life.  Honestly, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had.  The entire cast and crew...and I must stress this, THE ENTIRE CAST AND CREW helped me both on and off stage.  Not to toot my own horn (and those of you who know me well know I don't really do that) but I think it was one of my best performances ever given the situation.

What roles or types of roles would you most like to play in the future?
I would love to do Sweet Charity again for the dancing or Lola in "Damn Yankees" just to spice things up a bit.


What motivates you to keep on doing what you're doing?
Curtain calls.  I get an amazing sense of love for lack of a better word,  from the audience and I really feel that that's what keeps me coming back.  

During opening night jitters each one of us has said, "Why do I do this to myself?"  Why do you do it?
I'm a sadist?  No, I really just love to perform...that's the bottom line I guess.


What is your favorite theater story? 
During Pippin at CAP, Tim Pappalardo who was playing Pippin was sitting in a chair center stage with Brenda Festo who played Bertha.  Well, at some point before Bertha got into her song, the chair that Tim was sitting in just sort of crumbled underneath him and he ended up on his butt looking up at Brenda.  I don't think there was one person on or off stage that was not hysterical including Brenda who tried her best to get through the first verse or two of her song without crying.  Props to Brenda though for not completely losing it like some of the rest of us did.

Did you ever miss an entrance, drop enough lines for it to be noticeable,
crack up on stage? 
Oh absolutely.  Too many times to mention actually.

What was your worst theater experience? 
I would have to say, the Three Little Pigs take Broadway.  It was a Tweedles show, and for those of you who don't know, the Tweedles are an audience interactive spoof troop for lack of a better definition.  The show was good, but we never had an audience.  I think the worst day was when there was 4 people in the audience.  It's hard to do interactive theatre when there are only 4 people to interact with and they wanted nothing to do with us.


Why do you perform at the theaters you do? 
CAP, is like a second home for me.  I've been performing there for 5 years now, I've worked there as well so I know most of the people that are in and out.   I love it so much I got married on the stage there and had my reception right in the theater.  Creative Ministries also holds a special place in my heart...that was the first place I really called home long before they ended up in the theater in Oakdale.  This was waaaay back when it was a touring group doing mostly educational theater.  Noel was my first director outside of school and/or church and he taught me a lot about performing.  I owe a lot of my "security" on stage to him...thanks Noel!

Who are some of the actors you've most admired or who have been particularly rewarding to work with?
Wow, that's a tough one, that list is endless but if I had to name a few I would have to say Rob Jones, Kristine (Swenson) Goebel, Dan Domenech, Fred Tubello, Jean McCormick, Noel Ruiz, Bruce Grossman (both as actors I mean), Adam Slawitsky, Craig Treubert...I know I'm leaving people out.

Who's the best (in your opinion) that you've done a show with?
I would really truly have to say Rob Jones, he has an amazing way with improve and is just great to work with.


Why do you spend so much time toiling in L. I.  Theater?
All the people that are truly important to me are involved in LI theater.  It's not only a passion but my lifeline as well.

Do you find that your family supports your love of theater? 
Funny, when I met my husband he was intrigued by the fact that I was an actress so he came to see all of my shows.  He came around so often in fact that he is now not only the Tech Director at CAP, but he's an actor as well.

How has performing enriched your life? 
I will never know a more amazing family than the one I have found in the theater.  If nothing else, I have my boys who are my friends, my little brothers and my family...I love them all more and more each day. Besides, where else can I get away with a nickname like "Crazy".


What brings you the greatest joy? 
Watching my boys perform.

What really irks you? 
Non communication, sitting around at rehearsal night after night doing nothing...that really really irks me.

If you won LOTTO tomorrow you would...
get the heck out of here that's for sure.  Seriously though, I would buy a big boat.

Is it true that you'd really rather be rich than good looking?
Nope, I'd most definitely rather be good looking.

What's your favorite word?


Do you have any projects on the horizon that you want the readers to be aware of? Please give details)
Just the Scarlet Pimpernel at CAP...oh yeah, I'm playing Marguerite.  The show opens October 20th.