Lindsay Mendez, who can currently be seen in the Broadway bow of Joshua Harmon’s relationship-themed Significant Other at the Booth Theatre, is one of the most talented artists to emerge in the New York theatre in the past decade. The singing actor, who made her Broadway debut in the Kathleen Marshall-directed revival of Grease, has gone on to impress audiences both on Broadway (Wicked, Everyday Rapture, Godspell) and off (a Drama Desk-nominated performance in the Benj Pasek and Justin Paul musical Dogfight).
Telly Leung, a fellow Broadway talent and former co-star of Mendez, relishes in the talent of the woman who feels like his theatrical other half. “I first had the opportunity to work with Lindsay on Godspell, which was a true ensemble piece. The show requires that we all lift each other and support each other onstage and off—and Lindsay has always been a rock for me. We would joke that we’d want to be like Patti [LuPone] and Mandy [Patinkin], doing concerts together years later and telling our showbiz stories on a stage. Ironically, I was in the wings with Patti LuPone at the Tony Awards that year (she was presenting an award with Mandy Patinkin after the Godspell performance), and I got to share that with her! I told her I was ’Mandy,’ and I had found my ’Patti’ in Lindsay. Patti loved that!”
I recently asked the multi-talented performer to pen a list of her most memorable nights in the theatre; her responses follow.
Opening Night of Significant Other
Zachary Quinto, Jonathan Groff, and More Celebrate Significant Other Opening Night
This one rings most special to me for many reasons…one of which being it just happened. This show is so dear to me and to our cast and creative team. A story about love and friendship and loneliness…something I think everyone can identify with at some point in their lives. And, our Broadway opening was just such a special night. We started this journey with the play years ago, doing a reading of it before we did it Off-Broadway in 2015. And, the fact that we made it to that beautiful Booth Theatre, all together, getting the opportunity to tell that story eight times a week on Broadway. Well, it was just overwhelming to me. I wept at the curtain call—something I don’t think I’ve done before. I think this was a moment where I got to take it in and remind myself how freaking lucky I am to get to do what I do, and that I have been embraced by this beautiful community.
This show was so special in every sense of the word. But one moment in it particularly stands out to me. During the second act, Derek Klena and I kicked off Rose and Eddie’s date night with “First Date/Last Night.” I remember rehearsing that song and thinking, “How are we going to actually do this?? Walk together, but not connect and both of us be seen while walking???!” And then, my captain and genius friend, Joe Mantello, said, “There’s a turntable, and you’re gonna walk.” But we didn’t just walk—we passed each other in these incredible ways, where you could really see what each person was thinking…. It was like this crazy dance we did, all seeming so casual and nonchalant, but the moments were each meticulously staged. We rehearsed it in the rehearsal room just walking around the room over and over again. So getting on the actual stage and working it was a whole new experience. And, I just absolutely loved the result. That’s what happens when you work with people like Joe: They teach you that the big things aren’t important, the small details are what make a performance. And, I have taken that with me ever since.
The Rose Tattoo
A Look at Marisa Tomei in Williamstown’s Rose Tattoo
This past summer, I had the pleasure of working with director Trip Cullman on Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. This show was such a crazy experience, a cast of 25 people with kids, teenagers, even a live goat! But best of all, it starred the incomparable Marisa Tomei. I got to play her “spirit” of sorts and sing all of these Italian songs throughout the play. My favorite moment of it each night was the closing of Act 1. Marisa’s character is at a huge breaking point and going crazy, and Michael Friedman, our music designer, played this really amazing drum track, and Marisa and I stood opposite each other and danced like crazy wild jungle animals while I chanted in Italian at her. It was untamed, weird, wild, terrifying, and amazing. I loved every second of being onstage and off with that beautiful lady.
21 Chump Street
Randomly, my friend Michael Mayer called me one day and said, “Lin-Manuel [Miranda] is going to write this quick skit to perform for This American Life’s big anniversary at BAM. Want to do it with us???” Of course, I was already a huge fan of Lin’s (this was pre-Hamilton madness!) and of This American Life, so I said, “100 percent!!” The story goes: Lin wrote the show in, like, three days! It was a 14-minute mini-musical based on a story that was featured on This American Life years prior. And, I got to play the bad guy—which I loved. We put the whole thing together in five days with the greatest company: Anthony Ramos, Gerard Canonico, Alex Boniello, Antwaun Holley, and of course, Lin playing Ira Glass. We had such a wonderful time together in this short and sweet project—performing it at BAM for that huge crowd was something I’ll never forget—and created something that, now, I hear is being performed all over the world!
Wicked Tenth Anniversary
What a night this was! I remember being so so so nervous to do the show this night. It was about halfway through my run at that point as Elphie, but I knew that all of the original creative team and much of the cast would be in the audience, and I just wanted to do the play honor and justice. This thing they had worked so hard on was still going strong, and I think our whole cast felt the pressure to show them that it was still in good hands! My little green hands and legs were shaking like crazy! Until I ran out through those two doors for my entrance, and the audience erupted! It was crazy! I then thought, “Lindsay, relax, and enjoy this! We are all here to celebrate!” The best moment of the night for me was during “Defying Gravity,” when Glinda puts the cape on me, and I rise up with the cape, hat, and broom. The audience applauded and cheered so violently that I remember looking at Bryan Perri, my conductor, and we just smiled and held, and I thought, “Wow, this is for everyone. This is for this character being represented in theatre. And I get to be in this costume in this moment!” It was such a huge honor for me. I’ll never forget it!
Click here for ticket information about Significant Other.
Mendez is also one of the many talents to grace Playbill Travel's star-studded destination cruises. Playbill’s inaugural river cruise along the Rhône River in May 2017 is sold out, but cabins are available for the Rhine River cruise in August 2017, featuring Seth Rudetsky, Andréa Burns, Faith Prince, Terrence Mann, Charlotte d’Amboise, Santino Fontana, and for the November 2017 Danube River cruise with exciting talent to be announced. Click here to learn more about the upcoming destination cruises and the Broadway talent already on board.
Senior editor Andrew Gans is also the author of the monthly Their Favorite Things column.