By editor-in-chief, Steve Schonberg
Tony award nominee, Lauren Worsham — best known to Broadway audiences as murderous Monty’s fiancée, Phoebe in “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” — has taken a turn past musical comedy and found herself deep in darkness. Not as a villain however, but in style, as a performer and leading lady having just released her first full-length album, “Beautiful Monster” with her indie-pop band, Sky-Pony and in the post-apocalyptic opera, “Dog Days” at NYU’s Skirball Center.
“Having just seen Star Wars, the Force Awakens… we all have a dark side,” Worsham said playfully. “I think it’s important to acknowledge that darkness in all of us,” she added. “Having a tongue-in-cheek approach to it and embracing it, as opposed to trying to stay ‘Stepford wife’ happy about it, I think can be [in some ways] liberating and cathartic.”
This perspective comes through in her work with Sky-Pony, for which she and husband Kyle Jarrow craft the band’s work and image to reflect their indie-pop style paired with theatrical sensibility. “We love the way it sounds,” Worsham said of the new album, which was released on December 4 and includes a mix of rock/pop tracks that may surprise Worsham’s fans who know her best from Broadway. With lyrics like, “Everyone will die, sometime. Everyone will linger with nothing. And though I don’t know why, it makes me feel better,” Worsham defers to rock tones over her classical opera training. But that background isn’t far behind. “It’s just inherently going to be theatrical, because of who we are as band members, [but] to lean more into kind of the indie rock side of it is something we really focused on when we were recording it.”
(VIDEO: Sky-Pony, The Watcher)
Worsham explores her dark side too through “Dog Days,” a piece written by David T. Little specifically for her that she’s performed since 2012. “This character is kind of [in] my heart,” Worsham said. “The role is written for me and I’m the only person who has ever played Lisa in performance… she’s definitely a part of me,”
The piece is set post-Apocalyptic America, and depicts a family who has decided to stay in their home, even though there’s no food and they face starving to death. A young teenage girl, Lisa, befriends a beggar — a man who has lost his ability to identify as human and has started to dress and behave like a dog, begging for scraps. “I guess that’s his coping mechanism to survive,” Worsham remarked, “and [Lisa], at the encouragement of her mother, befriends the dog man and consequences reverberate throughout the family and have some pretty intense [effects].”
“it’s incredibly fulfilling for me as a performer,” Worsham said of the piece. “It’s hard core, man.”
Through the intense lens that “Dog Days” is set, Worsham identifies with the character by reflecting on her youth and her fans. “I think all of us can kind of look back at that time in our lives and find some sympathy and some empathy for our younger selves,” Worsham shared. “For me, that’s kind of how I connect to her. A lot of the Gentleman’s Guide fans who I’ve met are around that age and I connect with them. They are reaching out in a time in their lives. They’re trying to figure out who they are as adults, who they’re going to be and I find it [to be] a very touching part of life.”
“Dog Days” will play NYU’s Skirball Center from January 9-11. For information and tickets, visit www.nyuskirball.com.