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Austrian actress, Lisa Antoni, best known to Westerners as the original Mary Vestera in Frank Wildhorn‘s Rudolf Affair Mayerling graciously sat down to talk with The Joyous Living about her new show in Bozen, Italy, her opportunity to dub Emily Blunt‘s voice for Mary Poppins Returns (Mary Poppins Rückkehr) and her dream roles!

Lisa Antoni

Viennese actress Lisa Antoni is best known to those of us in America and England for her role as Mary Vestera, opposite Drew Sarich [Les Miserables, Lestat] in Frank Wildhorn‘s Rudolf Affair Mayerling that was recorded on album and video. So when Lisa graciously agreed to an interview for my A to Z Challenge series on Authors and Artists, I was ecstatic and had to sit down with her online to pick her brain about her new upcoming show, favorite roles, and cafe recommendations in Vienna. Enjoy!

You’re currently in rehearsals in Bozen, Italy for “I Feel Love”. What is your typical day like?

I get up at 7:30 or 8:00 and first make myself some herbal tea as well as black tea with almond milk, and some breakfast.

Then I get into workout clothing, because we usually start the day at 10:00 with a 45 min body warm up in the rehearsal room, with the choreographer.

Afterwards we start scene rehearsal and sometimes music rehearsal.

From 14-15h we have lunch break, I either stay at the theatre cantine or go home and cook something really quick (my apartment is 7 min from the theatre).

Afterwards we rehearse again and the day ends at 18:00 or sometimes 19:00.

Then I go straight back to my theatre apartment for dinner and shower and lately I have been watching Youtube Broadway Vlogs because that just motivates me and gives me hope :).

On Sundays I usually go for a longer walk/hike in nature with some of my colleagues which is very nice in Bozen because beautiful nature is all around.

Can you tell us a little about your new musical “I Feel Love”?

We do the dialogue in German language, but the songs in English.

It’s a true ensemble show so we all are almost always on stage. So we rehearse most of the time all together, which is unusual for me, I am more used to have scenes with just few more people and to just rehearse for my scenes.

The show is about Giulio who owns a Disco in Italy, and casts a group of people for a Disco group “The Disco Killers“ to help that disco get back to its former fame.

It’s a comedy, because the people he invites to the casting are quite interesting and not really professionals ;), and I play one of them, a woman named Philippa.

You did a fabulous job dubbing the voice of Mary Poppins for the German soundtrack to “Mary Poppins Returns”. What was the hardest thing about dubbing a voice? What surprised you the most about the experience?

Lisa Antoni, Singing Voice for Mary Poppins Returns in German
Lisa Antoni, German Singing Voice for Mary Poppins Returns

LISA ANTONI: The most challenging thing about the dubbing was the timing of the beginning and end of words in the ballad “the place where the lost things go“. Because it was sung quite freely by Emily Blunt and not as straight as the uptempo songs. Of course it is not possible to make the German songs fit to the mouth movements of Emily Blunt perfectly, so most of the time I focused on singing it beautifully and in the style of the song and fitting to Emily Blunt’s vocal performance. I recorded the songs before the synchronization of the german dialogue was done, so I just oriented myself to Emily Blunt’s voice.

Most surprising to me was to see parts of the movie before everybody else saw it, that felt like such a privilege. Also I thought Disney would have a special studio just for Disney movies, but it was a normal studio in Munich and the owner is the sweetest person ever, and so laid back, although he records all of these iconic Disney movie songs in German.

What are three restaurants or cafes in Vienna that locals frequent that you would recommend to a tourist?

LISA ANTONI: Oh this is not easy! There are many many great places in Vienna. If I were a tourist I would check out: Cafe Central (it’s just very beautiful Interior and great little cakes and Pastries), and of course good coffee.

Another great place to go eat or have coffee is the Naschmarkt, there are many many little restaurants and you find something for every craving.

And number three: in the warmer season it is nice to walk around the Donaukana, you can start at Schwedenplatz and go down to the water. There are many small bars where you can get a drink (or bring your own), and then sit somewhere or walk around. It is the closest to a beach that we have in Vienna ;).

At Schwedenplatz I also like Motto am fluss, you can have nice breakfast or brunch there.

What is your dream role in English?

LISA ANTONI: I would be delighted if I could perform in English one day! And in terms of Dream roles… if I were younger I would love to be in Mean Girls the musical (I just love the music, it’s so much fun, and the lyrics are so funny and clever). I also always wanted to play Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.

There are many other roles I would love to play, like Amalia in She Loves Me and Jenna in The Waitress.

What English musical would you love to see brought to German and Austrian audiences?

LISA ANTONI: Well, Mean Girls and Beetlejuice come to my mind. I am sure I am forgetting many many great shows I think should come to Austria and Germany.

What role would you love to make your Broadway or West End debut?

Lisa Antoni in Concert as Christine Daae

LISA ANTONI: I would love to originate a role! So a new cool musical would be amazing to make my Broadway or West End debut!

Also lovely would be Mary Poppins, or Phantom of the Opera, or My Fair Lady :).

In 2014, you played Natalie in Next to Normal. Would you ever want to revisit the show and play Diana?

Lisa Antoni in Next to Normal
Lisa Antoni in Next to Normal

LISA ANTONI: I was offered the chance to audition for Diana a few times already. But I feel like playing Diana is an emotionally very exhausting part that I don’t feel too drawn to play… I liked playing Natalie though. She is very affected by her ill mother but she makes it through and is herself not as damaged as Diana. Maybe in a few years I will change my mind but for now I feel like playing different shows and parts.

German language productions of Frank Wildhorn’s musicals such as Rudolf, Jekyll und Hyde, Dracula, & Der Graf von Monte Christo have been very successful whereas in America they’ve been ignored for the most part. What is it about Frank’s works that draws in a German speaking audience?

LISA ANTONI: I don’t know why his shows seem to do better here or in Asia than on Broadway, I couldn’t tell you what’s the difference. Maybe on Broadway they prefer the funny witty upbeat shows, or the very edgy new style shows with contemporary music, and Frank’s music and shows are more of a big ballad classic-musical style. So maybe that’s the reason.

Recently you’ve done several short films. Would you like to do more movies and television?

LISA ANTONI: Yes I would love to do more tv or movies! That’s a big dream of mine. I like the work in front of the camera. It’s much more intimate. And also I feel like there’s a much bigger audience there, a bigger market, and soooo many stories to tell! Now that there’s Netflix and Amazon, there are so many possibilities to act on screen.

I will take any opportunity that comes my way, to get more experience in filming, because it’s really a learning by doing thing. I’ve done quite a few workshops too. I feel like I am ready, and i hope opportunities will come my way :).

You’ve performed all over Europe. How do audiences compare in Austria, Germany, Switzerland?

LISA ANTONI: Not really… or at least I couldn’t really tell a difference in different countries/cities. But I have experienced many different audienc reactions within one run of a musical, but that was in the same city, and the same theatre, yet the audiences were so different on different days! It’s a funny phenomenon.

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A big thank you to Lisa for her time! Hope you enjoyed this interview and for those lucky enough to be in Europe, do share if you have plans to go see her new disco show! Sounds fun!

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