There is a piece of Broadway missing right now that can be defined in one word – Orfeh. There’s just no one else like the veteran performer who brings boundless energy complimented with powerhouse vocals to every production she’s in. The singer, songwriter and actress has been seen in an abundance of projects ranging from television and film to the stage. Orfeh’s Broadway credits include: Footloose, Saturday Night Fever and her Tony Award nominated performance as the hysterically cooky Paulette in Legally Blonde the Musical.
Read on as she touches on working with her husband Andy Karl (Rocky on Broadway, On the Twentieth Century), addresses the theatre urban legend centered on her and the best piece of advice she has for aspiring performers…
RP: What made you become an actress and singer?
O: I can safely say, I sang before I could really speak. I’d pick up jingles off commercials, or sing top 40 hits off the radio after maybe two listens. As I got older, I was the kid who would write and perform skits for “assembly” in grade school. I don’t think I ever thought to DO anything else. I was interested in medicine, psychiatry, the human psyche, if you will but acting/ singing… it’s in my blood.
RP: What does an average day look like for you?
O: That really depends, when I’m not in something specific, (Broadway show, filming an Indie, etc)… I’m all over the place, cramming as many apts. in to the day as my agents have been kindâ€‹ enough to get me ;)! I also have to tend to real life, husband, menagerie, gym, phone calls, meetings, co-writing session with my song writing buds, and, more often than not (thankfully), I have my voice over career, which is a major priority. They call, I jump ;).
RP: Had you received any training that you think was instrumental to your Broadway success?
O: I went to & graduated from “LaGuardia” aka, the “FAME” school and it was intense. We were trained in Stanislavski & Strasberg Method acting, major scene study classes, movement, voice and diction (including the phonetic alphabet). While the emphasis wasn’t on musical theater per se, our senior project included writing and starring in an original musical – that was a very big part of our final grade. It just so happened that my senior year, my class was picked to perform our show for one night only, at The Virginia Theater (now known as the August Wilson) So, if we’re being really technical about it, I made my Broadway debut as a teen ;). It was years later, once I landed on Broadway, that everything meshed and ALL that training became integral and crucial.
RP: Did you ever have a moment where you lost your voice and couldn’t sing?
O: HAAA! well, this story has become (in no small part due to Seth Rudetsky) an urban theater legend…except, this happens to be 100% true. Back in Saturday Night Fever, I did a really fun/high “run” in the duet I performed with Paige Price, “Nights on Broadway”…. It was one of those weeks where we had more than 8 shows, we did lots of press (in addition to the shows), we were all exhausted and clearly, I was getting punchy… it was a 2 show day and by the evening show, I simply was NOT in good voice, let alone in possession of the “high note”, just couldn’t find it with a search and rescue team, so, instead of going for it and risking sounding like a dying hyena, I looked right at the cast, and as the “big note” drew closer, I “pointed” the note…. Well, in all my years, I’ve only experienced that sort of hysterical laugh out loud meltdown from a cast twice. The way I saw it, the cast knew what was supposed to be there (hence, the pointed note) and the audience didn’t know to miss it. To this day, people ask me about it. I’m not condoning such onstage shenanigans but it really has become “the point that keeps on giving”.
RP: Ha! That’s hysterical. When you have your voice, what’s your favorite song to belt out when you’re in the shower or car?
O: Oh, that changes all the time, right now it’s “Grenade” by Bruno Mars that I’m stuck on.
RP: As a songwriter, where does your inspiration usually spark from? Do you have a favorite part about the songwriting process?
O: I love the collaborative effort. I always work with other songwriters. I always will. In the case of songwriting, I find that having different life experiences and perspectives in the room, is a major bonus. As far as inspiration, I look to the life experiences of others, friends, acquaintances , overheard convo’s. Inspiration can come from anywhere if you’re listening, and I’m a great listener.
RP: You and Andy Karl are some kind of insanely talented Broadway power-couple. He’s stepped out of the ring and onto the twentieth century for his new show. Have you seen it?
O: I have seen it. I’ll be seeing it again opening night (and I’m sure, a few more times after that) and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s about as close to a perfect musical theater experience as I’ve ever seen.
RP: We loved you guys on stage together in Saturday Night Fever and Legally Blonde? Do you think that you two will be back on together again?
O: If it were up to us, we’d work together ALL the time, in every project either one of us was in. We’re that rare couple who actually enjoys it!
RP: You guys are great together. Do you have any plans of coming back to Broadway, yourself, that you can fill us in on?
O: Nothing in the immediate future but the possibility is always there.
RP: That’d be wonderful. How about other projects?
O: I had 2 indies come out at almost the same time late 2014 – Sleeping With the Fishes starring Gina Rodriguez and Ana Ortiz and Life of an Actress with Allison Case, Taylor Lauderman and Richard Blake. Fishes is currently airing on HBO and is available for purchase everywhere. There are a lot of things in the works but nothing I’m not too superstitious to talk about. I can say, Andy & I will both be doing more concerts in the coming months.
RP: To end on an inspiring note: What’s your most valuable piece of advice for aspiring NYC performers?
O: WHEW! There’s SO much I can say but I’ll spare the reader. Succinctly put, you have to be prepared for a LOT of work, a lot of rejection, hopefully enough success to sustain you and then, LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT!
RP: Thank you so much, Orfeh! I’m a big fan.
O: Thank YOU for giving me the “floor” to babble for a bit! xx