Elizabeth Nestlerode plays the title role of Dana in the new musical THE MEANEST BIRTHDAY GIRL. Written by Lauren Marcus & Leah Okimoto and based on Josh Schneider’s popular children’s book of the same title, THE MEANEST BIRTHDAY GIRL is premiering at The New York Children’s Theater Festival, as a co-production with Musical Theatre Factory, on May 15th- May 17th 2015.
Question: How did you first get involved with Musical Theatre Factory?
Elizabeth Nestlerode: I was introduced to the factory by a friend last May. I came to Sing Your FAC*ing Face off and I got really excited about being involved. When I saw The Meanest Birthday Girl cast posting, I thought it would be a good fit. My day job is teaching musical theater to kids four days a week so I’m with seven year olds a lot. There are many homages to the kids I teach in the show.
Q: How so?
EN: We have been spending a lot of time in rehearsal with this apology scene, how big a deal it is to apologize and how hard it is for little kids. I’ve been noticing that in my class.
Q: How familiar were you with the children’s book that served as the original source material for the show?
EN: I wasn’t familiar with the book before but we’ve been using it in rehearsal for reference. It’s really sweet. It goes deeper than a lot of children’s books; some of the themes are really universal themes. Obviously it’s a children’s musical but there is something in it for adults too. And the composer’s brother in law is actually the one who wrote it. He’s coming to the show, which is very exciting.
Q: One of the great things about working on a musical at The Factory is getting to have the writers in the rehearsal room. What has the rehearsal experience been like for this show?
EN: It’s been a very collaborative process. We’re getting to ask questions and make sure we understand the story and the characters. Things have been changed and developed a lot because of what we’ve done in rehearsal so we really feel invested in the process.
Q: What was your worst birthday? Did you ever have a ‘meanest birthday girl’ moment in your childhood?
EN: I have no memory of this but I am told that when I turned three years old I was super charming and so the next year, my family invited lots of people to my birthday party. I got a present that I already had and threw the present across the room, saying “I already have this!” I definitely was the meanest birthday girl, at age four.
Q: Why should people come see the show this weekend?
EN: It should be fun! We spent last Sunday traveling to parks around the city [doing preview excerpts of the musical for families there]. We found that the parents were just as engaged the kids.