Actress Lila Coogan is delighted to be starring as Anya in “Anastasia” on tour. Prior to this role, the New York-born Syracuse University graduate starred as Jane Banks in “Mary Poppins” on Broadway, as Penny Lou Pingleton in “Hairspray” at Syracuse Stage and alongside John Quinones on ABC’s “What Would You Do?” Here’s what Coogan had to say about what she enjoys most about playing her newest role, how she stays fit on the road and why audiences of all ages with be in awe of “Anastasia.”
1.) How did you prepare to play the role of Anya in “Anastasia?”
“In the weeks leading up to rehearsal, I focused on physically preparing myself, taking regular voices lessons and trying to work out as often as possible, that way my instrument was prepared for the long rehearsal process and the run! Then, the first week of rehearsal we really focused on the history of the Russian revolution and what it would have been like to be living during that time. We also learned a lot about the Romanov family themselves, what they liked, how they behaved and that really helped me dig into ‘Anya the character.'”
2). When you were eight years old and auditioning for your first show, did you ever imagine you’d eventually be doing this as a career?
“I think I always knew in the back of my mind that this was what I was meant to do, but I never thought I would be the lead! If you had told me though that I’d be playing this character, I would have told you ‘No way!’ The movie was a huge part of my childhood, so this is a dream come true!”
3). What is the most rewarding part of playing Anya?
“Anya is so amazing, so the most rewarding part is learning a new thing about this strong and compassionate young woman every night!”
4). Do you have any advice for other up and coming young actors out there who may be interested in pursuing acting?
“Be yourself and focus on yourself! When you try to be like someone else, or on the other end of the spectrum, try to be different, you lose who you are as a person. We are all special and unique so just focus on you, and doing what you love.
5). While you’re traveling for the show, how do you stay fit and are there any good luck charms you take with you on the road?
“I try to work out at least four times a week! It depends on where we are, but if there is a run path near by, that is my absolute favorite way to sweat! I worked for an exercise company for years and was able to take a lot of classes that way, so I also love group sweat sessions. I have a couple of things I take on the road with me. I have a picture of my boyfriend and my dog that I sit on my night stand no matter where I go. I also have a Omamori charm that I got in Japan. The one I have is used to protect the home and ward off negative energy and spirits. Since I am staying in a new room every week, I love having that and knowing it will protect my space for me. I am a very spiritual person.”
6). What’s your favorite part of being in a touring musical production?
“Meeting all the new people on the road, from the local crew, to my local dresser, to the fans of the show in each state! It is super awesome getting to bond over our show experiences and I love all the local suggestions for places to eat and go to while we are in their city.”
7). What are three beauty products you can’t live without?
“Oh my gosh! I am SO into skin care! One of the products I suggest and swear by all the time is Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Ultimate Hydro Gel. It is this gel-based moisturizer that boosts my skin’s hydration like crazy! It is easy to layer with as well so I can pair that with the Kiehl’s daily moisturizer with SPF for a sunny, outdoor day. I have acne-prone skin so when I find a product that cools my skin and hydrates without causing a breakout I am thrilled.”
8). Why is “Anastasia” a show that’s perfect for a family of various ages to see?
“No matter who you are, there is a character you can relate to you in ‘Anastasia’ and that is what opens the door for so many people to come see the show and fall in love with it. So it’s relatable not just to kids, but to adults as well.”