This week Playbill catches up with Lauren Nicole Chapman, who stars as Anna in the North American tour of Disney's Frozen, currently playing Pittsburgh's Benedum Center for the Performing Arts through October 16.
Chapman was also seen in the Broadway staging of Frozen as well as in the Broadway and touring productions of Kinky Boots. Her other theatrical credits include Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, Serena in Legally Blonde, and Corrie Bratter in Barefoot in the Park, and she can also be heard in the animated film Frozen 2.
What is your typical day like now?
I really value my coffee time in the morning. I usually look for the delicious food and drink spots and neighborhoods that I can walk around and explore in each city. After the show, I love to come home and unwind with my latest TV binge, a Facetime with my fiancé, and a salty snack.
Are there any parts of your role in Frozen or the musical that seem particularly poignant/relevant following the events of the past two years?
My first song in the show is about how much I hated isolation and yearned to be part of a community again, and now that I get to be outside again, nothing will stand in my way…So, yes, during the Broadway shutdown, my dream show had closed, and I knew I was going to have to accept the fact that I wasn’t going to get to say goodbye to a show and a family that I had spent years with. To be given this gift after two years of learning more and more everyday that nothing is promised, especially tomorrow, is more than I could’ve ever asked for.
The musical focuses on the bond between two sisters. Can you share a favorite story that helped develop a bond with your co-star?
Caroline [Bowman] and I have been in the same circle for several years, and I had only hoped that one day we’d get to work together. My dream came true and then some because I not only have found a friend in her but a sister as well. We love to laugh together, and her heart is truly radiant—she takes care of me like a sister. I love that everyday I get to learn more about Caroline on and off stage, and I am so incredibly lucky to have a co-star like her. Before each show we have a little dance party that always ends with a hug and the phrase “I can’t wait to meet you.”
What is the most challenging part of touring with a show, and what is your favorite aspect of touring?
Anna is very physical. Touring asks for a bit more self discipline as we travel from city to city, so I try to stay keenly aware of what my body needs between shows, whether it be physical therapy, time in the gym, or simply time to rest. Touring can be hard as we are away from our families and homes, but it is made easier by this wonderful group of humans who love to explore together. My favorite aspect of touring is finding out what makes each stop special or what each city is “known” for.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow artists, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
My workplace is incredibly, and beautifully, diverse. I know how privileged I am to be surrounded by people who are willing to share and educate me on their experiences. That isn’t their job. There are so many things that I will never be able to fully understand, but I will not go a day without trying. If you’re lucky enough to be in an environment where there are BIPOC voices choosing to help you understand the best way you can be of support, listening is absolutely non-negotiable. The work to create inclusive and equitable work spaces has only just begun, and it will take all of us engaging in active support to make change going forward.
What, if anything, did you learn about yourself during the past two years that you didn't already know?
I am stronger than I think.
Do you have any other stage or screen projects in the works?
I’ve been very blessed in my career, but this specific job is the kind of job that I’ve worked my entire life for. It’s not lost on me how lucky I am to get to do this, so for the first time in a long time I am not feeling too much concern about what comes next. All I’m doing right now is soaking up every single second I get to perform this show.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
I recommend looking for organizations and programs that directly impact your community. Start small and go bigger. Just one example is New York Common Pantry. They are always looking for volunteers to help in their food packing and distribution every week, and you get to meet some amazing people and see the impact these programs have on families in your community.
If you don’t have time to volunteer, there are many other ways to stay involved and active. I have many friends who have partnered with the organization Feel Good Action. They are a mission-focused non-profit looking to increase youth voter turnout and positive social change through motivational media. Feel Good Action can help with Voter Registration, youth political engagement, and measuring the effect and strength your voice can have on the people around you.