She's a little teapot

Kelli James, Broadway's first-ever Eponine in the original production of Les Misérables, is here among us. Tired of living out of a suitcase, and after a distinguished career that includes dozens of Broadway starring roles, James has settled in Phoenix, where she’s featured this month as a singing teapot in Beauty and the Beast. She inaugurates this new column with confidences about sharks and drag queens, drunkenness and Hal Prince.

I knew I wanted to be in show business when I watched The Carol Burnett Show for the first time. I wanted to be just like her.

The worst thing about being a thespian is the competition among fellow actors.

My worst audition ever was in 1980 for Stephen Sondheim for Merrily We Roll Along. I was young, in New York for the first time, alone and scared. Sondheim was quite unimpressed, despite Hal Prince's insistence that I had talent!

The happiest day in my life was surprising my dad with Green Bay Packers tickets for his 65th birthday -- giving him a dream come true.

If I could be anyone other than myself, it would be Oprah Winfrey.

It's not entirely true, but I sometimes tell people that I was raised by drag queens.

The fictional character I am most like is Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

I am utterly terrified of deep dark water and sharks.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is actually a brilliant misfit.

I laugh uncontrollably at the absurd.

The one thing I absolutely refuse to do on stage is say "no" to a new idea. A great actor will try anything once!

Something I have never admitted to anyone before is that I hate to be wrong.

Currently I am reading The Best Awful by Carrie Fisher.

The first time I got drunk I told at least 10 people I was in love with them.

Appearing in a musical as a singing tea set is fun, however it's nothing like performing as a good bar set.

Like my mother used to say, "Don't get too big for your britches!"

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela