June 8, 2010

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Jersey Boys Toronto’s New Mary Delgado–Cleopatra Williams!

June 8th, 2010

Cleopatra Williams
Cleopatra Williams

We are thrilled to present a JBB EXCLUSIVE Interview with JERSEY BOYS Toronto’s new Mary Delgado, Cleopatra Williams! Just two weeks ago, we had the marvelous opportunity to see Cleopatra on stage as “Mary” & the many other roles she plays and she was absolutely fantastic!

JBB: Congratulations, Cleopatra on becoming the new Mary Delgado in the Jersey Boys Toronto cast! How does it feel to be part of an award-winning hit show that is now the longest-running musical in the history of the Toronto Centre for the Arts?

CW: Thank you! Honestly, it has been such an honor and a privilege to join the Jersey Boys Company. From the cast to the crew, it is a FANTASTIC production! Not to mention the great music and script. I am so grateful and proud to be a part of this show.

JBB: What motivated you to audition for Jersey Boys? Tell us about the audition process.

CW: My agent Sandy got word the role of Mary Delgado had become available and she got me an audition. I was sent a few scenes to learn and was asked to prepare a pop song from the era. After my audition, I was invited to learn choreography. Me and about ten others girls were taught the opening number routine and we performed it several times. I got called back to audition for the director Des McAnuff. When I showed up, there was just me and one other girl! I had to do the same two scenes again, and I sang a section of “My Boyfriend’s Back.”

JBB: How long have you been playing the role? Now that you’re in the cast, describe your typical day before showtime.

CW: I have played the role now for about a month. Typically, my day starts at around 9 with breakfast, Ellen, and The View. Eventually, I get around to the typical household chores like laundry, garbage, dishes (I love a clean kitchen!). Then I go out and do errands or grocery shop, or meet with a friend for coffee. I also work on producing my own work; whether it be planning a performance or choreography, or both (Yes, I’m a performance junkie). Then I usually unwind with some hot yoga or a workout before the show. I fit a meal in there somewhere and then… off to the show!

JBB: Did you always know that you wanted to be in musical theatre? Who or what inspired you?

CW: When I was four, I went to a dance studio called Roland and Romaine School for Performing Arts. It was really big on performance. The school really motivated you to find your own individual style and personality on stage – as opposed to enforcing strict technique and conforming to a certain style. From there I knew I needed to be performing on stage though I wasn’t yet sure in which direction I wanted to go. I was torn between being a back up dancer and theatre. I was in love with Janet Jackson’s and Madonna’s performance styles growing up and I loved freestyle/hip hop dancing. After high school I decided to go to the Randolph Academy for Performing Arts to study acting and singing as well as dancing. As my voice developed, I started getting a lot more roles in theatre and now I can’t imagine my life without it!

JBB: Tell us about some of your previous roles in theatre and other show business experiences.

CW: I played Aretha Franklin and understudied Oz and Killer Queen in “We Will Rock You,” Jeanie in “Hair,” Cha-Cha in “Grease,” Louisa in “Nine,” Anita in “West Side Story” to name a few of my favorites.

My famous horror story is when I went on for Killer Queen the very first time. My adrenaline was rushing and my energy was through the roof. So much so that when I got just over half way through the final song “Another One Bites the Dust,” I completely lost my voice in front of 1,500 people!

JBB: Wow! I can imagine how tough that night on stage must have been for you! Back to playing Mary Delgado, what is it about the part that really excites you as an actress? What is the biggest challenge/toughest thing about playing Frankie’s first wife?

CW: Mary Delgado is a tough, charming, Italian woman and has extreme street smarts. I grew up with a lot of tough girls, so I know how to tap into the attitude, strength and passion that lies within a woman like that. I really have compassion for Mary. She came from a tough neighborhood and just wanted to find a good man with ambition and goals. She truly loved Frankie Valli and wanted to have a normal family. Unfortunately, because of Frankie’s determination for success, although he did love Mary dearly, he was unable to balance his career and family life causing her much grief and hardship. My heart goes out to Mary and I feel great sadness and pain in the scene with her and Frankie when she realizes he’s been cheating on her and things will never change. I don’t find it so much a challenge, but a duty as an actress to tell Mary’s story and to do it justice. I’m honored to portray this woman and I love doing it every night.

JBB: In addition to playing Mary, you play a total of 18 other roles, right? Tell us about how you manage all of them in a typical show. How do you think these small roles (such as being one of the girls in the club or one of girls in the bowling alley) add to the show? Do you have one that stands out as your favorite, or does it change on any given night?

CW: It’s a lot of fun playing all the different roles in the show. It’s not really as hard as it may seem. As soon as the new costume and wig comes on, I just become whatever the part may be. All the small roles help tell the Jersey Boys’ story and help make it to become more three-dimensional. Mary Delgado is my absolute favorite character to play, of course! But no other character really stands as being better than the next one. They are all great!

JBB: How about your favorites thus far in the show: What’s your favorite musical number in the show?

CW: My favorite number to dance in is the finale. I love the energy of the whole cast on stage and the feel of the choreography in that number. I love singing “My Eyes Adored You” (I wish I got to sing a little bit more of the song with him!). My favorite song to sing backstage is Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me) and “Bye Bye Baby.” My favorite number that the Four Seasons do is “Walk Like a Man” because I think the choreography is extremely clever.

JBB: What’s been the funniest or most surprising thing that’s happened backstage, on stage, or in the audience since joining JB that you can share with us?

CW: Well I haven’t been doing the show for too long yet, but the funniest thing for me so far is when I would strike the table in the kitchen scene in the second half. The chairs are really heavy and for the first week I couldn’t for the life of me get the chairs down from off the table with out hitting myself in the head. I don’t know if anyone in the audience noticed but it was hilarious to me, even though it kinda hurt!

JBB: Jersey Boys is the one of the most successful musicals across the globe and Toronto is soon to be celebrating its one millionth customer! What do you think makes the audiences feel so connected to Jersey Boys?

CW: Well for starters, the music is fantastic and the audience is familiar with it. When I was first learning the show I would come to watch it and it was great because I’d hear audience members commenting during intermission, saying, ‘I never realized half of those songs were by the Four Seasons, I remember listening to those songs as kids!’ Also, the script is so well-written and the characters are played so well that the audience really cares about them and feels compassion for them. The show truly has a soul. You just feel the heart and passion that was put into it and you fall in love with Jersey Boys.

JBB: So, Cleopatra, you’ve been with Jersey Boys for only a short time, but since you began, what have you discovered about yourself that you didn’t know before being part of the Jersey Boys Toronto Company?

CW: I’ve discovered that my possibilities and potential are endless in a career that is very difficult to succeed in. All it takes is trust and belief. You know how true love is when you find someone who feels just as passionate about you as you do about them? Well, that’s how I know I’m doing the right thing in my career. Every role I’ve taken has swept me off my feet, and I feel the love coming right back at me… And being a part of Jersey Boys is definitely no exception!


  1. I saw her in Toronto a couple of weeks ago. She was certainly memorable. Great job all around. Looking forward to seeing her again.

    Comment by Gary — June 8, 2010 @ 10:40 am

  2. Great interview with Cleopatra! She’s very talented & was great when I saw her last month at the show. It’s amazing how many roles the cast members play.

    Comment by Tonya — June 8, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

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