Robin Lamont: From Day by Day to Wright for America
Robin Lamont attended Carnegie-Mellon’s specialized drama program where she performed in and helped conceive the musical Godspell. She stayed with the show from its original Off Broadway run and went on to re-create her role in the film by Columbia Pictures. To her surprise and delight, her recording of Day by Day from the cast album became a hit on the Billboard charts, and the film version of the song still draws viewers from around the world.
|Original cast of Godspell|
I began my interview with Robin, as I do with all of my blog subjects, by asking Robin if she has a favorite quote or personal philosophy.
Just as she has had various careers in her lifetime, her personal philosophies have evolved over the years as well.
Robin has developed a strong interest in animal welfare.
Right now, she has a moral philosophy that she feels, as I do, should extend to ALL human beings to re look at our relationship with animals, particularly, the animals we eat.
|Robin Lamont in Godspell|
Animals endure a great deal of suffering for us. Robin is not opposed to people who eat meat, but the way that farm animals are being raised today is just too brutal. That is not what nature or God intended. That right now is one of Robin’s strongest motivations.
Let’s go back to the beginning and how Robin got from there to here.
Robin was very interested in acting in high school in Brooklyn, New York. She did all of the usual high school productions. As a result, her acting teacher encouraged her to apply to, at that time, Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie-Mellon.
At that time, it was the only college in the United States, even before Julliard, where one could go and major in acting from day one.
That’s what she did. She took acting, dance, singing, movement, speech, voice, accents.
They had to take one English course.
That’s where it all began for Robin.
The moment that solidified Robin’s forging ahead was the moment when she was cast in John-Michael Tebelak’s production of Godspell at Carnegie.
The directing majors at Carnegie would mount their own productions.
Everyone knew John Michael as this “hippy kind of guy” with hair “out to here” and overalls. Robin remembers walking down the hall.
It was casting day. As a junior or senior, you could be cast in one of the main stage productions which is where everybody wanted to be in one of the directing students projects. Robin was walking down the hall with Sonia Manzano, who went on to play Maria in Sesame Street. She has become an author in her own right.
It was the very earliest and raw production with different music.
Stephen Schwartz was not involved at first. It was different music with a gritty sound. It was a self-made, experimental production.
They only did three or four shows but by the last show, word had gotten around at Carnegie, students were piling in and they were pressed against the back walls from the engineering department, from every place. This took place just before the Christmas break.
John Michael got a booking for them at Café La Mama. Sonia and Robin and David Haskell took a leave of absence from Carnegie for a few weeks to do the show. This is where their producers saw it and invited Stephen Schwartz down and said, “We really like the show but we feel that it needs better music. Can you rewrite the score?”
Stephen agreed to do so and Robin, Sonia, and David went back to school. Three weeks later, Stephen had rewritten the score to Godspell.
It was a big change. Robin feels that Stephen’s score for the show is brilliant. It makes the show what it is. They then went into rehearsal to open at The Cherry Lane Theater in May of 1971.
Stephen’s score changed the feel of it. It made the show more commercial. It gave everyone more direction. It became a more cohesive show.
Robin got her Equity card with this show. Robin considers herself lucky to have been the one chosen to sing Day By Day. After Stephen wrote that song, he thought Robin would be good for the song. It was a simple song. Robin likes to sing but she didn’t really consider herself a singer at that time. It was a lucky break.
She stayed with the show through various productions. She went to LA to do it. She came back to New York to do it on Broadway.
She did the film. She became known as the Day by Day girl. The song became very popular. Robin desired to move on.
She was asked to do Grease and she did. She did a regional production first and then replaced Candice Earley on Broadway as Sandy. She went back to working with Stephen Schwartz on Studs Terkel’s Working. She sang James Taylor’s Millwork. It was a wonderful experience working with him. She admires him a great deal and that was a special moment in her life. During a lull in her acting career, Robin took on some work as a private investigator, working for a boss who appreciated her acting skills for undercover work.
Again, there was a little bit of danger and intrigue. She has always liked mysteries.
She enjoyed it and worked there about eight years. During that time she had two children. It was a lot of work trying to raise two kids, working full time.
It was a personal decision to leave the DA’s office. Robin had already started her first novel before she left the DA’s office. She knew she wanted to write.
This question is from Linda Purl: Who does Robin pray to when she’s in trouble? She prays to God. For
|Andrew Martin: The Andrew Report|
Having self published her first book, putting out a second book under her own imprint (which is self publishing, but a little more sophisticated), and now working on a third, Robin does see the publishing industry changing dramatically.
It is going through a huge transition. It has become easier to self publish.
You can self publish and make it look identical to anything “Penguin” might put out. Authors are keeping triple, quadruple the royalties of what they would earn if they were to go through a traditional publisher. However, a self publisher has to do his/her own marketing and PR. Authors are beginning to find that they don’t need the “big guys.” The good news is that you can sit on your computer to promote your service or your product. The bad news is that everybody else in the universe is doing the same thing.
|The Andrew Martin Report|
The main advice as to how to navigate through those waters, as Robin has been trying to do, is to follow some of the advice of some of the people that Robin has spoken to. When it comes to social networking, you need to put out information that is constructive and helpful and relevant.
That is the advice she would dispense to those reading this blog.
Robin is constantly going to other sources for inspiration in her writing. First of all, her acting inspires some of her character development with her characters in her writing. It is very easy for her to get lost in a character, in a good way, to feel that she really is that person.
If someone was to watch Robin write, it is kind of kinetic.
They would see her mouthing the words and acting it out. Robin also goes to music for inspiration. She chooses certain types of music that works for a particular book that she is writing or for a certain character.
If she hears a certain song, she might play that song as she is writing for a particular character and/or scene. It puts Robin inside the room with them or inside their soul, in a way. Music is vital for Robin.
Robin works in a linear fashion when she is writing. Some things take her by surprise but her interest is in suspense. The book she is working on now is part of that genre. Wright for America is a slight deviation from that.
There are suspense elements to it. It is pretty much a satire/comedy.
Going back to suspense, Robin strongly believes in Robert McKee’s sense and delineation of what a good story is.
For Robin, it means you have to work up to a climax that is the pivotal moment for your book.
You have to know what it is and how you want to get there.
|Clockwise: Sonia Manzano, Robin Lamont, Jeff Mylett, Lamar Alford, David Haskell, Peggy Gordon, Herb Braha, Joanne Jonas, Gilmer McCormick, Steve Nathan — with Sonia Manzano, Robin Lamont, Stephen Nathan and JJ McCraty.|
There are many books that Robin admires. Recently she read a book by Tom Franklin called Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. To her, one of the best suspense novels ever read in her life. It is so personal and emotional. That is what Robin hopes she achieves in her own writing.
One of the fun things that Robin enjoyed about Wright for America is the character of a girl who works undercover and how she maintains character.
She takes on two undercover roles. One is to try and undermine this right wing conservative host and then she is doing a simultaneous sting on this smarmy Turkish counterfeiter. She keeps getting the roles mixed up or someone will find her in a restaurant with one person and thinks she’s a different character when she is supposed to be the other. There is a moment sort of midway through the book when she is in a recording studio and she is so happy because her “real person” loves to sing and loves to be there and she forgets herself for a moment and she laughs.
For an actor, the worst thing you can do is drop character. A critic or an audience member will think that actor is terrible. For an undercover, it could be a matter of life or death.
Original Godspell Cast on The Today Show: Robin Lamont, Peggy Gordon, ...masterworksbroadway.com
They are fun to explore. If Wright for America were made into a movie, Robin has thought about Ellen Page. Jennifer Garner is also in the back of Robin’s mind. She might be a little too pretty for the role. Maren Garrity, the main character, is pretty, but regards herself in the book as she says at one point, “Maybe I’m not that good an actress. Maybe I’m just mediocre which won’t get you anywhere except in Hollywood.” You need a spunky ordinary actress to play this struggling actress who is approaching thirty one and feeling that her career is at a standstill. She is always cast as the sidekick, never the leading lady.
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Thank you Robin Lamont for the gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,
With grateful XOXOXs ,
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