Sound Bites spotlights up-and-coming singers and conductors in the world of opera.
Sound Bites: Lauren Worsham
The TEXAS SOPRANO balances the worlds of opera, Broadway, cabaret and rock.
by Scott Barnes.
Photograph by Dario Acosta
Hair and makeup by Affan Graber Malik
© Dario Acosta
LAUREN WORSHAM CALLED her 2015 debut cabaret show “From Corsets to Combat Boots.” It’s an apt description of the confident, intensely intelligent, entrepreneurial, label-defying performer who has jumped fences among opera, operetta and musical theater quite successfully. Worsham also fronts a rock band called Sky-Pony, which she created with her songwriter husband, Kyle Jarrow. “I love having a varied singing life,” she says. “I’m never bored. The thing about singing with the band is that we play venues with seriously bad sound—like ‘I can’t hear myself’ bad. I totally have to trust my technique, or I’d be pushing and maybe hurt myself. I love both sides of my career—the discipline of singing opera or musical theater and the fun of having a drink or two and letting myself improv with the group of awesomely talented performers in my band.”
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Worsham landed her first important performing job as Olive Ostrovsky in the national tour of the Broadway hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Her youthful looks and sound won her starring roles as Lili in Carnival at Goodspeed and Clara in The Light in the Piazza at Weston Playhouse. She created the role of teenage Lisa in Dog Days, by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek, at Montclair State University in 2012 and repeated the role this year at the Prototype Festival in New York City. In 2013, she was Flora in New York City Opera’s Turn of the Screw. She made her debut on Broadway as the dithering, good-hearted cousin/fiancée Phoebe in the 2014 Tony-winning Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, for which she won Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards and was nominated for a Tony. She made her New York Philharmonic debut as Magnolia in Show Boat in 2014.
In 2008, when Worsham auditioned for New York City Opera’s Candide, she was sent for a lesson with soprano Virginia Grasso, who assured Robin Thompson at NYCO that she could secure Worsham’s high notes in ten weeks’ time. Worsham was hired and since then has been fearless in the diversity of styles she’s willing to sing. “My instincts are pretty excellent. My theater friends say I have cords of steel, and my opera friends think I’m crazy. Even on days I’m singing with the band, I vocalize legit, which has been what saves me. It’s all about balance.”