Lauren Kennedy has a career most musical theater performers can only dream of—nearly half a dozen Broadway shows, a London West End starring role in South Pacific, a national tour, and numerous star turns in regional productions. As a recording artist, she recently released her second solo album, Here And Now, a follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut CD Songs Of Jason Robert Brown.  Married to Broadway star (and cabaret act partner) Alan Campbell, Lauren and Alan are the proud parents of the lovely Riley Rose. Lauren Kennedy has also been part of many World Premiere productions from their inception, the latest of which is Vanities, now in its pre-Broadway run at the Pasadena Playhouse. We are so grateful to Lauren for taking time out of her busy rehearsal performance schedule to answer our questions. 

Hi Lauren. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about your starring role in Vanities!  It’ll be my first time seeing you on stage since “discovering” you in The Ten Commandments, but I’ve listened to your Songs Of Jason Robert Brown CD time and time again and have fallen in love with your latest, Here And Now.  Oh, and I happen to think that your Nellie Forbush on the Trevor Nunn revival CD is about as definitive a Nellie as there’ll ever be. I am, as you can see, a Lauren Kennedy fan! So, tell our StageSceneLA readers how a Southern girl from Raleigh, North Carolina decided on a career that would take her around the world as a musical theater star.

Well, I was lucky because I had parents who loved theater. My siblings and I got to watch them perform and they would bring us to New York to see Broadway shows every Thanksgiving.  Plus, I really owe so much to The North Carolina Theater…a professional Equity house in my hometown where I did numerous shows all during my formative years. I got to work with NY actors like Terry Mann and Beth Leavel. By the time I got to NY I felt like I was already in the community!

No wonder, after working with pros like 2 time Tony nominee Terrence Mann and Tony winner Beth Leavel, both of whom have done shows in L.A.  And now you’re back in our fair city! After having been on Broadway multiple times, starring on the London stage, and touring the U.S. as well, what’s special about doing a show in L.A.?

Doing a show in LA will always be special to me, because my very first Pre-Broadway show Sunset Boulevard premiered out here!  I think it is a wonderful place to try out new material, because in many ways the audience is similar to what we can expect in NY.  Plus the weather…hello!

You mention Sunset Boulevard, which is only one of many great shows on your résumé.  In fact, I can’t imagine four more different shows than Sunset Boulevard, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Les Miz, and Side Show (four of the shows you’ve done on Broadway).

Lauren as the Lady of the Lake In Monty Pyton’s Spamalot

If you were offered the chance to do one of them again, which one would it be?

If I say none of them you will think I didn’t adore working on all those shows…which couldn’t be further from the truth.  But seriously, I don’t have a huge desire to do any of them again, because my experience with them the first time was so fulfilling. I wouldn’t want to muddy those memories, you know!

I understand totally!  And those are just your Broadway credits. How did it feel to be doing South Pacific, one of the greatest American musicals of all time, in London, and directed by Trevor Nunn?

Lauren as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific

Working with Trevor was as absolute dream. I would lie, cheat and steal to work with him again.  (Lauren laughs.) No really, he brought so much humanity and so much history to that show. Also, a fresh perspective…not being American.  

I understand it was quite the international cast.

You’re right. Our cast was very … worldly. Philip Quast who played Emile is Australian, our Cable was South African and our Bloody Mary was from Manila. It was just one of the best artistic and personal experiences I have had to date!

I’ve been lucky enough to see your multitalented husband Alan Campbell in two shows here in L.A. (Contact and Johnny Guitar).  

He is talented isn’t he! I had my sights set on him from the first day we started rehearsals for Sunset Blvd out here in LA…15 years ago.  

Have you had the chance to perform together much?  

We have created opportunities to work together. We do a “Steve and Eydie” cabaret show which is really fun!  We hope to work together more as our daughter is getting older. She really loves to come see us perform … hmmm … full circle!!!

There’s no female vocalist who’s better at interpreting Jason Robert Brown’s music than you are. 


People are very kind to say that, and if it is true, it is only because I LOVE singing his music.

I would so love to have seen you in The Last Five Years. 

Meeting Jason at the auditions for The Last Five Years really shifted me as an artist.  I had been waiting a long time to find the music I really wanted to be a part of… and there it was!  

What is it about Jason’s music and lyrics that speaks to you?  

It’s hard to explain why his music connects, but clearly it does … with so many people!  Smart, funny, heartbreaking, honest, raw, thrilling … are just a few adjectives.  He sets the bar very high.  I adore that man.

I not only love your latest CD, Here And Now, I’ve been turning friends on to it.  On a recent “road trip” down to see a show in Anaheim, my friend Ben kept asking to hear “Through The Mountain” (from Floyd Collins) and I kept returning to my very favorite “My Life Long Love” (which I’ve only now realized was written by Georgia Stitt, Jason’s wife). 


How did you go about selecting such a diverse (and exquisite) bunch of songs?  

I am really proud of Here And Now. I had been trying for years to decide on a follow-up to Songs Of Jason Robert Brown.  It seemed to make sense to continue in the direction of what has become my passion, promoting and celebrating writers of our generation! I have worked with so many of them on developing projects or shows that never made it to Broadway, but should have. There is such a wealth of talent out there and I barely scratched the surface. I want us to look back years from now and say “Oh, yeah, what a great age of theater…so many new shows created…we had Jason Robert Brown, David Kirshenbaum, Andrew Lippa, Georgia Stitt….”

It’s quite the season for trios of musical leading ladies, with 9 to 5 coming to the Ahmanson and Vanities to the Pasadena Playhouse (in which you star with Sarah Stiles and Anneliese van der Pol). What appealed to you about doing a musicalization of the off-Broadway hit (about coming-of-age in the ’60s and ’70s)? 
Sarah Stiles, Lauren Kennedy, Anneliese van der Pol

David Kirshenbaum has been on my radar since I did one of the early readings of his show Summer Of 42. And of course I went to him for a song when I was putting together my album… We were doing a concert in New York and he mentioned that they were going to be casting for Vanities. I had friends involved in the production they did in Palo Alto a few years ago, while I was doing Spamalot.  It occurred to me then that I would love to play Mary.  So when he mentioned it to me that night, I called my agent and said “make sure I get seen for Vanities!!!” I have been a fan of the play for years… the book and the characters are very strong.  It is a gift to actors! 

What’s it like to share the stage with two other women, as opposed to a handsome leading man?

It is so nice working with the girls!  We have such a fun and giggly rapport, we really make each other laugh!  People will be blown away by their performances.  Sarah and Anneliese are so funny, so gifted and sing their faces off!  It think we are all really proud of each other!

In Vanities, your director is Judith Ivey, a female director directing three women and an Tony-winning actress directing three talented actresses.  What special gifts does she bring to this project?

She is an actress and she understands being an actress.  So this process has been very open and she has never made us feel like we have to “perform.”  She wants us to discover.  She has really challenged us to go beyond what we thought we were capable of. I feel lucky that we have had her at the helm! She and choregrapher Dan Knechtges (who choreographed Spelling Bee and Xanadu on Broadway) have work so beautifully together.  And I have been thrilled by watching them do their craft!

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