Lindsay Mendez, who has previously impressed audiences Off-Broadway in Dogfight and on in Significant Other, Wicked, and Godspell, is currently celebrating her first Tony nomination for her standout performance as Carrie Pipperidge in the Tony-nominated revival of Carousel.
Mendez, who manages to mine her role for all its dramatic and comedic worth—including a superb rendition of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Mister Snow”—spoke with Playbill the morning Tony nominations were announced.
“I was just really thrilled and so stoked that all of my castmates got nominated,” Mendez says. “We’re all super close, and I’m so proud of everybody’s work, and I’m really honored to be a part of that category.”
The actor admits that although she has thoroughly enjoyed all of her theatrical outings, Carousel “feels special to me. I feel like every show I’ve done, I pushed myself further and scared myself more and more, and this has definitely been the scariest thing I’ve ever done as far as just range wise for me, both the character and vocally. It’s been the biggest challenge I’ve ever taken on, so I felt a lot of risk involved. So, I’m like, ’Okay, well, this [risk] I came out okay,’” she adds with a laugh. “We’ll see what happens from here. We’ve worked really hard for a really long time on this piece. It feels awesome that people are acknowledging the work.”
Mendez, who shares the Imperial Theatre stage with fellow Tony nominees Joshua Henry, Renée Fleming, Jessie Mueller, and Alexander Gemignani, is completely smitten with her co-stars, explaining, “Jessie and I are like sisters, and we work so well together onstage, and that friendship offstage really fuels our friendship in the show. I just feel like Alex Gemignani is the best onstage partner I could ever ask for, and we never even worked together or met. There we are the first day of rehearsal, and we’re like, ’Oh, well, this is meant to be.’ It just felt totally right when we all came together.”
She is equally enthusiastic about Tony-winning director Jack O'Brien, who gave his cast much freedom during the rehearsal process and allowed Mendez to delve into both the humor and pathos of the role.
“When I read the script, I wasn’t really familiar with Carousel,” Mendez says. “I mean, I knew the songs obviously, but it wasn’t a show that I knew by heart or anything. So, when I read the script, it’s not like I was looking for the laugh. I just thought, ’Oh, this is a very in-the-moment gal, and this stuff does lend itself to humor.’… It's a dark story, and it wants that lightness. It kind of needs it to help balance the evening. But, I’m not out there trying for a laugh. I find that this young lady is so full of life and so excited for what her life is, and I don’t know, I find it funny. I find her joyful. I just try and bring that to the stage every night, and some people enjoy it and find it fun, and I’m just looking to have a good time out there.”
Looking back on her journey with the musical so far, Mendez is particularly impressed with “the caliber of people in our company. I sit offstage almost every night and watch other scenes I’m not in. I’m honestly so blown away by the artistry onstage and the professionalism, and every performance everyone is so committed and so in the moment. I’m so proud to be a part of this whole cast.”
Carousel, which was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, features direction by Tony winner O'Brien and choreography by Tony nominee Justin Peck.
Mendez has been a special guest performer on Playbill’s Broadway on the High Seas cruises. Cabins are now on sale for the Broadway on the Rhône River 2 cruise April 7–14, 2019, with a lineup of top Broadway stars to be announced. Call Playbill Travel for tickets at 866-455-6789 or visit PlaybillTravel.com.