Lauren Burgueno from MWSG Magazine speaks with Laura Fitzpatrick who plays Mama Michelle in the musical, ‘Flowerchildren: The Mamas and the Papas Story’.
:: Before being cast in the musical, were you a fan of The Mamas and The Papas?
I have to be honest and say no, but not because I didn’t like them, just because I didn’t really know their music. I think most people of my age and generation, if you say The Mamas and The Papas they know California Dreaming and Monday, Monday and go oh yeah they are cool, but I don’t think there are any die hard fans under a certain age.
:: What has it been like playing your character Mama Michelle?
Awesome! I love Michelle, she’s such an interesting woman. I think throughout the show many of the characters, and the audience as well, are wondering what is going on inside her head, as she behaves in some very strange ways. But I think of all of them she was really a kid when she was doing this stuff.
She was so young and trying to pretend to be grown up, but throughout the show you actually do watch her grow up. So you see her go from being silly and flighty and not really thinking through the consequences of anything, to becoming quite a grown up, thoughtful woman at the end. It’s good to play that journey.
You do get quite an insight into the different sides of Mama Michelle, because the way the show is set up each of the four mamas and papas gets a chance to tell some of the story from their perspective. So you get to see Michelle when she is being stupid and 21 years old, and just having fun and not really thinking about anything. But then you also get to see her in the present as a 68 year old reminiscing about that time many, many decades ago. So it’s a big shift and it’s really cool to play that.
:: Has it been interesting telling the somewhat untold, ‘behind the music’ story of the band?
Again, people who were around in that era might have an idea of some of the things that went on, because there’s quite a famous love triangle within the group. It’s a pretty full on story. And John, who wrote all the music, was basically writing about exactly what was happening between the members of the group. So all of the songs that the mamas and papas are famous for are actually kind of autobiographical.
A lot of musicals which have become really popular now use existing music and put it into a storyline or narrative. Sometimes they struggle a little bit because they are trying to kind of fit the songs in and build the story around them. But the way that this is done, the songs themselves tell the story.
:: How has it been working with the rest of the cast?
It’s pretty intense. There are definitely some very dramatic scenes, which can be hard to do, but I’ve known both Dan who plays Denny and Matt who plays John for many years and I’ve worked with them a lot, so I really feel very comfortable with them and I totally trust them.
The four mamas and papas, we all did the show a couple of years ago – a smaller version of it. And a lot of the production team, including the director and the musical director worked on that version as well, as well as a number of the members of the band. So that’s really cool. And we’ve got some new people in the show as well, who have just totally slotted into the family. They’re really great to work with, it’s a good bunch.
:: You have been in many shows including FAME- the musical , My Fair Lady and The Full Monty. Have your experiences in this musical been different?
In some ways it’s definitely been a little bit different. For a start it’s a group of people I’ve worked with before which is amazing because I know them all and like them all, and some of them are really good friends of mine so it’s pretty exciting that we are all getting to do this together. Plus I think the show is one of the best shows I’ve done, so in that way it’s different as well as being good quality. It’s a really good script, so that’s just an exciting thing to be able to tackle. The focus is always on the music but in this one the focus is on the music and the story behind it, which is awesome.