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Exclusive Interview with Adrienne Eller
Bay Area native dishes on what it's like to be a leading lady returning to her hometown
Every now and then there comes a Broadway show that artfully weaves a story while and subtly revealing truths that tell us something about our deeper selves. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is not one of those shows. But what the 2014 Tony-Award winner lacks in depth, it makes up for in musical mayhem and bawdy British humor. Based on a 1907 novel by Roy Horniman, this quirky concoction of Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak is currently on its first national tour, stopping in San Francisco for an extended stay at the Golden Gate Theatre Dec. 1-27.
Though John Rapson has taken it on himself to play some eight different roles, he’s joined by a talented cast of supporting actors. Northern California native and recent NYU graduate Adrienne Eller shares her experience playing love interest and bookworm Phoebe D' Ysquith.
What did the journey from school to stage look like for you?
- I’d seen the show on Broadway and loved it. I got the role in March, finished school, started rehearsals in August, and opened in Chicago on September 28. Since then we’ve been in Tampa, Durham, Lincoln, Pittsburg, and now San Francisco.
What drew you to the role of Phoebe?
- She’s sort of bookish and very earnest, so much so that she’s a little socially awkward, but also really adorable. I just fell in love with her and her music.
How do you bridge the gap between yourself and your character?
- The show takes place in 1907, so that’s the biggest jump, but once you get into costume it’s easier. I get to wear a corset and these amazing long skirts.
What is the biggest challenge about playing your role?
- I have a 45-minute break in the show from the opening number until Phoebe enters the story, so I have warm up again and think about what she’s doing and where she’s coming from. “You’re walking on stage,” I tell myself. “You’re walking into a story and you’ve never met [Monty] before.” I have to fall in love for the first time every day.
What is your favorite part of the show?
- There’s a trio called I’ve Decided to Marry You that was performed at the Tony Awards and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade a few years back. It’s really a lot of fun and an absolute gem of a musical number. You don’t really have time to think about what you’re doing, so you just deliver every moment or you fall flat on your face. It’s sort of a showstopper. I love it.
What is it like coming to perform in the Bay Area?
- Going to see shows in SF was a big part of my upbringing. I’d see shows like Les Mis and Wicked and Spring Awakening. That’s really how I fell in love with theater. Now I get to be on that stage and hopefully I’m inspiring other performers.
What will you do when you’re not performing in San Francisco?
- I grew up in Saratoga, so I’ll be going home for Christmas and living with my parents for the month of December. My mom and I love to go Christmas shopping in Union Square and go to the burger bar in Macy’s. I’ve been telling my cast they have to go to the Academy of Sciences and walk across the Golden Gate.
Has anything surprised you about your experience so far?
- I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see the fans outside the stage door waiting to have us sign their playbills. It’s crazy to think that that was me not that long ago. It’s great to have that connection and to remember how special that moment is.
San Francisco, CA
Dec. 1 - Dec. 27, 2015
Golden Gate Theatre