Imagine being referred to as a “ball-busting beast from hell” on a daily basis. Don’t worry though, Kate Loprest only gets called it once, maybe twice a day — and luckily, it’s Allison, her character in First Date, that takes the brunt of the beating.
Loprest, from Deerfield, Ill., stars in First Date, a rom-com musical about the hazards and endless gambles of finding a mate in a cutthroat dating world, and how once in a while, happy endings do happen.
You may have seen Loprest in her recurring role on HBO’s hit series Boardwalk Empire, or perhaps as Amber Von Tussle in Broadway’s Hairspray. Either way, this woman needs to be on your radar. I had the pleasure of chatting with this Broadway beauty and, let’s just say, anyone who has a passion for puppies, acting and no-nonsense dating can surely sing my ear off for 90 minutes.
McKenzie Morrell: Thanks for chatting with me today! To kick off the interview, what kind of experience have you had since the show opened?
Kate Loprest: Our experience has been surprising and overwhelming. It’s different when you’re sitting in a room and you’re noticing something very special going on but you never know if it’s going to transcend to the audience, if they’re going to get it and feel the same way. We started doing these performances and people were standing and jumping and cheering and crying and laughing and it’s a wonderful, wonderful place to go to work. To know that you get to make people smile every day. On top of that, we have an amazing cast, an incredible group of people that I love so much, and I’m just luck to go to work with them every, single day. So, so far this has been pretty dreamy.
MM: You play Aaron’s ex-girlfriend, who has been referred to in the show as a “ball-busting beast from hell.” Can you tell us a little bit about Allison’s character and what you think makes her the way that she is.
KL: I think that Allison fell at the time into what a lot of people in their twenties do, [which] is they think that the next thing I do is I get married and I find somebody to take care of me and this is what I do because I’m supposed to be doing it. I think the people around her — her parents, or her mother in my backstory — is sort of pushing her to settle down with someone who’s got a great job, and he’s Jewish too, and you’re going to have a wonderful family and a wonderful long life together. I think she probably just got pushed to the extreme and got really close, obviously, she was going down the aisle and was just like, “I can’t do this,” and she hasn’t spoken to him since, which I personally think has to do with her own embarrassment about it. And the less that she sees him, the easier it is for her to think that she made the right decision. But if she sees him again, maybe all of those feelings will come back. I use some of that backstory, very complicated, in the scene that I do with Zac Levi and I have to kind of have an extensive backstory, or have one created for myself, because I don’t get to say anything. [Laughs.] So I have to really know what I’m doing there, at least in my head.
MM: Are there any major differences working on this Broadway production compared to other shows you’ve been in?
KL: Sure. First of all, a show called Wonderland that I did a couple of years ago, and most of the shows, well, all of the shows that I’ve done were previously running. So when you come in to do a show, people know each other already, they’ve been working together for months or years, but with this show, what’s exciting about it is we were creating it. It was done out of town in Seattle, but there were a lot of changes made, and we were kind of creating it as a group from the ground up. And that is my favorite part of the process, is getting to create, getting to work on the material and you’re lucky enough sometimes like we are with this show to have a great relationship with the writers and the directors and the creators and be like “well what if I tried this?” It’s also a very comedic show and a lot of it was set on us because we were the people creating it, so I guess that’s what’s different from other shows, too, is sometimes you don’t get input and sometimes you do. And in this case, we did. That is a treat.
MM: Definitely a treat! Now, you’ve been on TV shows like Boardwalk Empire and All My Children, as well as you were talking about Wonderland and other Broadway shows such as Xanadu and Hairspray. Do you prefer being on screen over being on stage? Or vice versa?
KL: You know, I’ve spent more time on stage, so I’m definitely more comfortable with that. TV is one of those things — yes, it is acting — but I think of it on a completely, totally different scale. In theater, you can be funny and large and you’re playing to a house of thousands of people sometimes. And in TV, you’re playing to the camera. The acting is different; it’s a big preparation difference, and I would say I enjoy both mediums. I’d like to do more TV [laughs] but theater is definitely … I’m a theater person at heart.
MM: Do you have a favorite song off the album?
KL: You know, it’s funny. We had a cast album listening party, so right before it got released, we obviously got some copies, and we had a big party and we listened to it. That’s been the only time that I’ve actually heard it. Everything sounds really amazing. But I have to say I really like Zac’s song, “Love With You” — “In Love With You.” [Laughs.] We were talking about this the other day: we have all these pet names for our songs in the show that we developed during rehearsals but nobody really knows what the real names of the songs are. Like for example, let me get out my cast recording right now… the song, let’s see… “That’s Why You Love Me,” we call it “Bad Boys Song.” We’re like, there are bad boys, but it’s really called “That’s Why You Love Me.” And the song “The Things I Never Said,” we just always call it “Dead Mom Song.” [Laughs.]
MM: I was chatting with Sara Chase the other day and she was saying that’s what she and Zach Levi call it, which is hilarious.
KL: [Laughs.] Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. But definitely my favorite song is “In Love With You.” I really like the way that Zac sings it, and the way it’s recorded, and you can hear all the instruments, and you really kind of feel the down beat a lot in the cast recording and I love it.
MM: Speaking of the cast, can you describe each cast member in one word?
KL: Oh. Oh yes, all right. Let’s see: Zac [Levi], generous. Krysta [Rodriguez], edgy. Blake [Hammond], huggable. Bryce [Ryness], buddy. I call him my buddy. Sara [Chase], goofy. Kristoffer [Cusick], loud. [Laughs.]
MM: And what would you describe yourself as?
KL: Oh, God, quirky! I don’t know.
MM: You’re like, “Too much pressure. I don’t know.”
KL: [Laughs.] Sometimes, I feel like I’m a good middle ground for everybody in our cast. I can be silly, but serious at the same time and I am proud to be in the middle of the circle. I don’t know. I’m just talking! [Laughs.] You know what you can describe me as? Homey. Because I’m always the one bringing in baked goods and bringing storage magazines like, “Look at this great chest and the way that they organized it!” [Laughs.]
MM: We all know that first dates can be a drag sometimes. What’s your best bailout line when you’re ready to get the heck out of there?
KL: I’m honestly going to go with “my grandma’s in the hospital.” I have to go with that.
MM: Do you share any similar qualities or personality traits with any of the other characters in the show?
KL: I’m an older sister, so I really kind of — when I auditioned for the show, I also auditioned for Lauren, for Sara’s part. I could have definitely seen myself playing that character in the fact that I’m the older sister of the two, stop messing around, get your act together, kind of situation. I definitely see myself being in Casey’s shoes too, being a single girl in New York City, dating, and even the whole thing that he said about why do you keep going out on dates. Well, because I just keep thinking that the last leap will be the leap home. And I know that’s goofy, but I kind of think that it’s true. My way of [seeing] it is: What’s the difference? You meet a new friend.
MM: Definitely. You either have a good time or you don’t. And if not, you move on.
KL: Krysta and I were talking about this as well. I don’t really have bad first dates. I really like getting to know people, and if someone is really nervous, I like meeting them halfway and trying to get them out of their shell. It’s not the first date that’s the problem. Sometimes, later on in the relationship is where you realize he is not who I thought he was. Whatever happened to that guy on the first date? He was really nice. You’re a psycho! [Laughs.]
MM: We all have a couple of those!
KL: I have a single girl theory for New York City. It’s called the six-to-eight-week theory. It’s guys. I’m 30, so when you get to be around 30 for you guys, you know how to behave for six to eight weeks. Meaning, charming girls, lovely romantic emails, picnics, dates and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Guys know then that they’ve got you hooked, and then you start to see that there are differences between the two of you, and they say things like, “You should know me by now.” And you’re like, “Well, actually, I don’t because I’ve only known you for six weeks.” And they’re like, “Well, if you don’t like it, we don’t have to be together.” And I’m like, “Yeah, you’re right. We don’t have to be together, so you’re outta here!” [Laughs] Anyway, that’s my six-to-eight-week theory. Now I get, “You should know me by now” and “You should meet my parents” after like two weeks. They get their claws in good. “We’re going to be together forever.” And you’re like, “You’re crazy!”
MM: Let’s talk about the stage door. I was able to see first-hand the crazy fun operation you guys are running over there. How has that been meeting all the First Date fans?
KL: I’m overwhelmed by it every day. People are so excited about it. It’s become a thing. And really, it’s so easy. I hadn’t thought about it before, but it’s so easy to come out and bring some music and have a good time. I’m like, why hasn’t anyone come up with this before?
MM: Right? I know!
KL: Come on! We have a lot of different people coming from a lot of different areas of the world and just people, young people, old people, people from foreign countries. There was a woman who took a bus from Nova Scotia to come see our show! Like, it’s crazy, and I’m overwhelmed by their support, and their wanting to say nice things to you about the show, and about how much they enjoyed it. It’s been a really cool experience. We love our fans. People in our industry can’t forget your fans are your power and your safety place. And, you know, sometimes you have a bad show. You’re like, “Aw, no one laughed at that joke” or “I didn’t hit that button right” or whatever, and you come outside, and they’re excited to see you on your worst day. I’m always happy to see it reaches so many different kinds of people. It’s not just a show for young people or single people. It’s a show for everybody.
MM: You guys must have a hectic schedule with all the shows you do each week. When you’re not performing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
KL: I like to play with my puppy. [Laughs.] No really, the weather is so nice outside right now and it’s only going to get crappy out. As much time as I can spend outside as possible enjoying the city. I can go walk the highline; I can go down to Madison Square Park or Union Square. I love to exercise. I love to be outside. I love to jog Central Park and take Georgie for long walks. My puppy’s name is Georgie. During the day, I try to make sure I spend good time with friends because it got a little dicey there for a while being busy all the time. So it was good to reconnect. I will do a little work for auditions or things that [are] around [or] coming up business-wise in my life. I’ve been doing a lot of Spring cleaning and general cleaning of the apartment. Really, just relaxing and making sure I’m ready to do the show at night.
MM: Here comes some random questions: Guilty pleasure TV show?
KL: Property Brothers on HGTV. I think they’re so cute.
MM: Would you rather have a Zombie apocalypse or alien invasion?
KL: Alien Invasion, because Zombies freak me out. I don’t really want to see dead people coming after me. Just because it’s an invasion doesn’t necessarily mean they’re after us. They might just be coming to Earth, and I think that meeting Aliens would be cool!
MM: Do you have any hidden talents?
KL: I can stick my whole fist in my mouth.
KL: I got a Broadway show off that one. I use it as a special skill in an audition.
MM: I’ll have to see that in person one day, because I don’t believe it! [Laughs.]
KL: OK, I can do it!
MM: If you could swap places with one person in the cast for a day, who would it be?
KL: Zac Levi, for sure. He’s got a busy life, and he’s got things running on all cylinders, and he juggles it so well. And I would love to know what goes on in that brain.
This is the second interview in NWN’s FIRST DATE Interview series, to see what Sara Chase had to say, CLICK HERE.
FIRST DATE is now playing at the Longacre Theatre, 220W 48th Street, New York, New York.
To see Kate Loprest, or for more information about the show (and to buy tickets) visit FirstDateTheMusical.com.
Chat with Kate on Twitter!