Now starring in David Harms’ new play Powerhouse, presented for a limited engagement this month at A.R.T./New York by Manhattan Repertory Theatre, Laura Shoop, a native of Illinois, a scholarship trainee with the Joffrey Ballet School, and a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School at Lincoln Center, has secured the flourishing of her “fifteen minutes of fame” with an impressive and ever-growing list of stage and screen roles.
On Broadway, Shoop has been seen in Flying Over Sunset, She Loves Me, Fiddler on the Roof, and Oklahoma! Other notable New York theater credits include her appearances in Bernarda Alba at Lincoln Center Theater, The Tempest and Into the Woods with The Public, Show Boat with the New York Philharmonic, and Jerry Springer: The Opera at Carnegie Hall, and her portrayal of Mary in Sherlock Holmes: The Early Years, for which she received the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) Award for Outstanding Individual Performance.
Outside of the City, Shoop was a member of the first National Tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie, and has worked regionally in The Bridges of Madison County (Williamstown Theatre Festival, under the direction of Bartlett Sher), The Rocky Horror Show (Old Globe Theatre, San Diego), Cabaret and Run for Your Wife (Long Island’s John W. Engeman Theatre), Carousel (NJ’s Paper Mill Playhouse), La Cage Aux Folles (Surflight Theatre, NJ), and Lady in the Dark (Prince Music Theater, Philadelphia).
In addition to her stage work, she has also been a regular on the large and small screen, in the films Project Pay Day, Viper Club, and Equity, the TV series FBI, The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, Prodigal Son, Blindspot, and more, the pilot episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and the special television broadcast of The Sound of Music: Live!
In the upcoming NYC premiere of Powerhouse, Shoop plays an attorney being pushed out of her high-profile firm over a relationship she’s having with a younger associate. Through her character’s challenge of traditional roles in a male-dominated field, the story examines what happens when a woman stands in her own power. During this busy week of rehearsals before the show’s first preview on October 7, Laura made time to give our readers some quick insights into her career and her personal thoughts and favorites.
- What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Laura: Pensive, craftaholic, extroverted introvert. I guess that’s four.
- Do you consider yourself a powerhouse?
Not most days, haha. But I feel like I’m at my most powerful when I am breathing and grounded and speaking from the heart.
- Are you more like Maria Huxley from Flying Over Sunset, Amalia Balash from She Loves Me, or Hodel from Fiddler on the Roof in real life?
I would like to think I carry a something of each of those women with me. A bit of Maria’s toughness, Amalia’s vulnerability, and Hodel’s bravery.
- What’s been your all-time favorite role on stage or screen?
This is such a tough question! I’ve loved so many of my performing experiences for different reasons. For instance, Oklahoma! was my first Broadway show and so incredibly exciting. But doing Into The Woods in Central Park under a full moon was pure magic. Then there was the privilege developing Maria Huxley for Flying Over Sunset for five years, which profoundly affected me. Working opposite Susan Sarandon in Viper Club was like a master class in acting . . . Like I said, tough question!
- What’s your first creative memory?
My best friend Stefanie and I performed in a storefront theater production of Christmas In The Land of Oz. She was Dorothy, I was a munchkin. We were in fourth grade.
- Who or what has been the biggest inspiration in your career?
In terms of actors, Cate Blanchett and Allison Janney. I could pretty much watch those women read the phone book. But lately I can’t stop thinking about Serena Williams and what an impact she has had in the world. I mean, can any of us not be inspired by Serena??
- What do you love most about live theater?
The moment right before the curtain goes up when the lights go down and you can feel the audience’s anticipation. But it takes an incredible amount of energy and focus to perform in a long run. I was doing probably my 315th performance of Fiddler and I thought, “How am I ever going to keep this fresh tonight?” Whenever I have those moments, I think about that person in the audience who is seeing a Broadway show for the first time, or a family that has gone to great expense to be there. They deserve every ounce of my best performance.
- What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve ever gotten from an audience member?
Doing Jerry Springer: The Opera at Carnegie Hall was wild! I played a woman with a baby fetish singing “Mama Gimme Smack on the Asshole” . . . in an operatic voice. Half the people went wild and the other half were cringing.
- Is there one role or show you haven’t done yet that you would love to perform?
Chicago is and always has been my favorite show. I’d pretty much do any role they would give me.
- What do you like most about screen acting?
It’s such a wildly different way of acting than being on stage. The camera is so close and the emotion has to be much more subtle, which is a real challenge. You have to be invested emotionally but also so restrained. Watch Viola Davis or Anthony Hopkins. They are masters of this.
- What came first for you – singing, dancing, or acting?
I always thought I would have a career in dance. When I was growing up, I wanted to be in a ballet company, then after Juilliard I wanted to join the Paul Taylor Company. Musical theater was something I sort of fell into.
- What do you for fun when you have a day off?
PICKLEBALL!!!! My husband and I, and even our two kids, are obsessed! Otherwise, I’m crafting up a storm. I have an Etsy shop called Curtain Up Designs, where I upcycle real Broadway costume fabric into accessories.
- What three things do you always carry with you?
A two dollar bill my Mother gave me for good luck, my Papier bullet journal, and I usually have a crystal in my pocket.
- What is it about NYC?
I could say it’s energy but it’s actually more than that. Everyone here is driven toward something and you can just FEEL it. And for me, when I walk in midtown by all the marquees on Broadway, I still have to pinch myself. Sometimes I can’t believe this is actually my life.
- What are you most looking forward to in 2023?
I have a bunch of projects that I’ve been kicking around in my brain and it’s about time I get after them! One of them is a writing project with a friend. Maybe now that I put that down in black and white I’ll actually do it.
Thanks, Laura, for sharing a fast and lively fifteen minutes with us! I look forward to seeing you on stage again this month in Powerhouse.
Powerhouse plays October 7-30, 2022, at Manhattan Repertory Theatre, performing at the Jeffrey & Paula Gural Theatre, A.R.T/New York Theatres, 502 West 53rd Street, NYC. For tickets, go online. Masks are required in all public spaces in the building.
You can watch a promotional trailer of the production below: