Louise Pitre Recalls the Night Cosette Forgot to Wear Her Wig Onstage

Diva Talk   Louise Pitre Recalls the Night Cosette Forgot to Wear Her Wig Onstage And four other memories from the original Mamma Mia! star’s internationally successful theatrical career.
Louise Pitre
Louise Pitre Ari Uzi Co.

It's a busy time for Tony-nominated actor Louise Pitre, who is best known for creating the role of Donna Sheridan in the Toronto and subsequent Broadway production of the international hit musical Mamma Mia!, a role that brought the Canadian actress a Theatre World Award as well as Tony and Drama Desk nominations.

Davy Jones
Davy Jones

The artist, who is blessed with a powerful, lush belt, recently finished a workshop production of Man of La Mancha that featured an all-female cast under the direction of Gordon Greenberg. Pitre, who also played the ill-fated Fantine in Toronto, Montréal, and Paris productions of Les Misérables, will next head to Toronto's Coal Mine Theatre December 13-23 for performances of the sung-through, one-act holiday show, A Coal Mine Christmas. And, Florida audiences will be under her spell when she brings her newest concert act, Chasing Rainbows, featuring all Judy Garland songs, to the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center January 7, 2017.

The celebrated singing actor will also perform her remarkable cabaret act as part of Playbill Travel's star-studded Broadway on the High Seas 8 Caribbean cruise in February 2017; click here for more information.

I recently asked Pitre to pen a list of her five most memorable nights onstage; her responses follow:

Davy Jones
When Davy Jones [of The Monkees] came to see Mamma Mia! on Broadway, he surprised the whole cast by his extreme grace and thoughtfulness. We all waited onstage while they brought him from the audience to come and say hello. When he came onstage, he walked directly to me and said, “Louise, what an amazing performance,” etc. and then to a few of the others, same thing with their name attached to the compliment. What a classy thing to do; learn names before shaking their hand!

Opening of Mamma Mia!

Opening night of Mamma Mia! in New York was very special for me—especially the after-party at the St. Regis. Benny Andersson ended up at the piano. I sat on the grand piano, and together we did some Piaf songs! At one point I leaned right back on the piano in full emotion, and my husband jumped up to remind me very softly that I was not wearing anything under that slinky gown. Flash averted!!

Les Misérables (Montreal)

The grown-up Cosette wore a black wig all done in ringlets. It was a lot of work to maintain, so the wig master would put a scarf around her head to hold up the ringlets every time she walked off stage until she went on again. One day Cosette (in her black period gown) went onstage without stopping in the wig room. She did the beautiful scene at Valjean’s feet wearing a neon-green scarf tied around her head. And, she had no idea until she came off stage and saw me and the wig master with tears rolling down our faces laughing so hard. It was a sight!

Cell phones!!!

Karen Mason, Louise Pitre and Judy Kaye in Mamma Mia!
Karen Mason, Louise Pitre and Judy Kaye in Mamma Mia! Joan Marcus

I was in the middle of singing “One of Us” at the top of Act II of Mamma Mia!—a nice, quiet song. A cell phone went off at what I think was the most perfect moment: “One of us is lonely. One of us is only (CELL PHONE RINGS!). Waiting for a call...” David Holcenberg at the podium shot me the most wonderful smile as we went on.

Burt Reynolds in  Mystery, Alaska
Burt Reynolds Photo by (c) Disney Films

Burt Reynolds
When Burt Reynolds came to see Mamma Mia! in Toronto, he came backstage. Tina Maddigan, who was playing Sophie, was young enough to not know Burt Reynolds. She joked with him, and he looked at me and said, “I got stuff in my fridge older than her!” I still quote that line!

Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.

Senior editor Andrew Gans also pens the weekly Their Favorite Things.

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