Nancy Opel, who made her debut on The Great White Way as the matinee Eva in the original New York production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita, is currently starring in her 15th Broadway production: playing Madame Morrible in the international hit musical Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre. The three-time Drama Desk Award nominee, who was Tony-nominated for her work as Penelope Pennywise in the Tony-winning Urinetown, also created the role of Frieda in the original Broadway company of Sunday in the Park With George. Among her many other Broadway credits are Fiddler on the Roof, Memphis, Beautiful—The Carole King Musical, and, most recently, Jason Robert Brown’s Honeymoon in Vegas. The Kansas native is equally respected Off-Broadway, where she has been acclaimed for her work in All in the Timing, Polish Joke, The Toxic Avenger, and Curvy Widow, among others.
We recently asked the singing actor to pen a list of her own most memorable nights in the theatre.
Says Opel, “I have so so many memories of great (and not so great) moments in the theatre. Off the top of my head, I'd have to say, when things go wrong it is usually pretty darn memorable.”
Honeymoon in Vegas
Flying upside down during Honeymoon in Vegas. During previews, it was decided that my character should fly off to heaven after blessing the romantic leads. Unfortunately, the day I learned to fly was the day that all the Foys were working on Peter Pan Live. I'm not gonna lie, I didn't get a ton of advice on what to do if something went wrong. And, something went wrong. As I came out from the wings, I flipped upside down. But I kept on singing. With 22 seconds left in the show. You can see this genius move on YouTube.
2004 Revival of Fiddler on the Roof
During the revival of Fiddler on the Roof, I stepped into an open trap door and fell into the basement of the Minskoff Theatre right before Motel and Tzeitel's wedding. There is no YouTube of this, but my elbow can often predict rain.
The Evita spill. During my second performance as Eva Peron, I took a tumble in the big white dress during “High Flying Adored.” There is no YouTube of the incident, but this became semi-famous due to how much Seth Rudetsky loved this story. We can be seen on YouTube [and above] talking about this. It's pretty funny, I must say.
Sunday in the Park With George
The closing night of Sunday in the Park with George on Broadway was just everything. I can't really describe how much it meant to be a part of that show from start to finish. And this was before YouTube.
Every night at Prince of Broadway in Japan was pretty crazy. We'd receive food, gifts, screaming crowds. We were just rock stars there. Pretty fun.
When I was doing Hope Harcourt in Lincoln Center's Anything Goes, I was also second covering Reno Sweeney. Guess what? I went on. It was a mind-blowing event playing scenes with myself, sort of.
Triumph of Love
Two-minute standing ovation during the final performance of Triumph of Love during “Henchmen Are Forgotten” with Kevin Chamberlin and Roger Bart. …I have about 10 million things I could mention. Next time. For YouTube.