August 28, 2007

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Jersey Boys’ Vacation Swing–Rebecca Kupka!

August 28th, 2007

While chatting with Jennifer Naimo backstage after the evening performance on August 4, we had the marvelous opportunity to meet Jersey Boys’ vacation swing cast member Rebecca Kupka! We were thrilled that Rebecca said “yes” to a JBB Exclusive Interview! It was great to find out more about Rebecca, including what sparked her interest in musical theatre and acting; her journey with Jersey Boys as a vacation swing; her many other roles and voiceover work; and so much more!

JBB: What sparked your interest in acting and musical theatre? Who were your early influences? How did it all begin for you?

RK: My Mom was an actress when I was very young, and she used to bring me to many of her rehearsals. I remember her playing Laurie in Oklahoma, and I also remember being very upset when I saw her as Fiona in Brigadoon kissing Tommy! Just watching her on stage, hearing her beautiful voice and seeing how easily she could transform into someone else was enough to “spark” things for me… I auditioned for a production of Annie when I was nine, got the title role, and I was hooked!

JBB: What has it been like to be part of Jersey Boys, the 2006 Best Musical Tony winner?

RK: It’s been a great experience for me. When I first heard about Jersey Boys, I had one of those rare feelings that I get every now and again as an actress, a kind of strange connection… the feeling that somehow, I’d eventually be a part of the show. It’s also great to be in an “older” cast where so many people are married with kids. It’s a different energy when people have roots and responsibilities, as opposed to other shows I’ve done where the median cast age was 19!

JBB: Prior to Jersey Boys, what other productions have you been in?

RK: I made my Broadway debut in Saturday Night Fever, understudying both leading female roles. I’ve done national tours of A Chorus Line (Maggie) and 42nd Street (Peggy), and lots of Off-Broadway and regional work. Just this past summer, I played Charity in Sweet Charity at the West Virginia Public and Kathy Selden in Singing In The Rain at Lyric Theater of Oklahoma.

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

RK: My first audition for Jersey Boys was a required Equity dance call. Turns out, the person teaching the combination was the dance captain, Peter Gregus. I got my Equity card a hundred years ago with Peter in a show up at Goodspeed called Lucky In The Rain. Well, we hadn’t seen each other in years, and throughout the whole audition, he kept announcing to the 50 other girls in the room that I “had two kids… can you believe it??” Nothing like being scrutinized even more than usual in an audition room! Anyhow, I didn’t hear much for awhile after that until my agents called to tell me that they were looking for a vacation swing in the Broadway company and that they wanted to see me. I was thrilled – and then they canceled the audition! Something about not being able to get all the creatives together… Well, I was headed out of town that very weekend to play Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and I was just sure I’d miss the audition when it was rescheduled. I was so disappointed, but as it turns out, they rescheduled the audition about a month later to coincide with the 1st National Tour auditions. I’d just gotten back from Beauty… and I went in and read several scenes for Des and sang “Boyfriend” for Ron and a few other people. At my callback later that Friday afternoon, I was expecting the same people… and there were about 30 more people in the room!! Producers, assistants, stage managers, you name it…I did my scenes and sang again, and left feeling pretty good. I was praying that they wouldn’t offer me the tour because I have two very little girls at home and I didn’t want to have to make that decision! But I also trusted that Ron and Peter knew I didn’t want to tour and hoped they’d put in a good word for me…I think they did, ‘cause my agent called first thing Monday and offered me the Broadway position.

JBB: As a vacation swing, you play several different roles in Jersey Boys! What do you find most gratifying about playing so many different roles? What is the biggest challenge for you as a vacation swing?

RK: As I mentioned earlier, the girls all get great acting moments in the show. I love that each featured character is so distinct. I get to play a teenage drug addict, a classy and intelligent reporter, and a tough, feisty Italian wife who herself ages quite a bit throughout the course of the show. I think the hardest thing about being a vacation swing, though, is not being a permanent part of the cast. Sometimes I am away from the show for months at a time, and every time I go back, I always feel like the new kid at school. I’m lucky (or cursed!) to have that “swing brain,” though, ‘cause even when I haven’t been in for months on end, things somehow come right back to me once I am there.

JBB: Out of the roles you’ve played so far in Jersey Boys, do you have a personal favorite? What role is most fun to play? What about the most challenging role?

RK: I LOVE Mary Delgado, probably because she is so different from me! I wasn’t even allowed to say “shut-up” in my family growing up. Getting to let loose with the “F” word several times in one performance is fairly liberating! Mary is my answer to all of your questions – my favorite role, the most fun role and also the most challenging. Even though she has such a tough exterior, Mary has a great love inside, and I empathize with her struggles as a young mother. I can’t imagine a life like hers, raising three little girls practically alone with a husband out on the road constantly…Even though I am lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband, I still have those moments of utter despair and depression where things just seem so overwhelming…

JBB: What is your favorite scene in Jersey Boys and why?

RK: The pizza scene with Mary and Frankie is so much fun. I remember the first time I saw it and how much I enjoyed Jen Naimo’s humor… It really sets up Frankie and Mary’s relationship – their obvious attraction to each other – and makes it that much more poignant later in the show when they drift so far apart.

JBB: What is your favorite musical number in Jersey Boys and why?

RK: That’s tough! There are so many great musical moments, but I must say that I enjoy “Moody’s Mood” quite a bit. It’s got such a smoothness to it…

JBB: What about your favorite line in the show?

RK: Again, tough call… But “…because I told ‘em you’re a f**kin’ genius” is pretty close to my heart. When I was auditioning for the show, I listened to the cast album over and over while I was driving in the car. As you know, some of the dialogue is interspersed between the songs, including that line. It never really occurred to me what my little girls might be absorbing in addition to the music, so imagine my shock when I heard my three year-old shouting at my five year-old one morning at the breakfast table, “I told ‘em you’re a f**kin’ genius”!! Needless to say, we skipped over that part on the CD after that…

JBB: What do you think is it about Jersey Boys’ story and the music that makes the audience feel so connected?

RK: It’s a story that anyone can relate to – starting with nothing, achieving so much, and yet losing so much as well in the process. The four guys embody the human condition in so many ways… always working toward “something better,” whatever that might be, and picking up the pieces of their failures along with their dreams…

JBB: You have also done a lot of voiceover work in your career. How is voiceover similar to a live theatre performance? How are they different?

RK: I love doing voiceover work because it doesn’t matter what you LOOK like! It gets really tiring as an actress having to worry about your appearance all the time. Voiceover is the one area of show business where you can show up for a recording with sweatpants and bedhead! I also love creating a strong character, which in some ways is harder in a recording because there is nothing external to help the character along.

JBB: Are there any other current projects you’re working on?

RK: I’ve been involved in a show called The Fartiste that won Best Musical at the NY Fringe Festival in 2006. They are hoping to produce it at an Off-Broadway venue sometime in the near future, but they are still in the money-raising phase, last I heard. Other than that, my main project is to try and get both of my girls used to the idea of going to school in the fall! Riley will start full-day kindergarten and Carlin will be in preschool three mornings a week. Lord, they grow up fast…

JBB: Are there any actors/actresses or directors you’ve admired that you would like to work with in the future?

RK: Do I only get to choose a few? I’ve always loved Julie Andrews and I’d love to have the chance to work with her in any capacity. I also think Sutton Foster is amazing. I saw her when I was still in college in a touring production of Grease, and she was the best thing about the show. But I think the person I would most like to work with is my husband, David Overton. He is an astonishingly brilliant actor/director/writer (and his wife is not the only person who thinks that!) and I am looking forward to him getting more recognition for his work in the future.

JBB: What are some of your “dream roles” for the future?

RK: Ahhhh, dream roles… Let’s see. Do they have to be ones I’d actually be cast as?? I always wanted to play Eponine in Les Miz, but now they are only interested in seeing 12 year olds… Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie would be great. So would Trina in Falsettos. I’d also love to do some more straight plays – that’s pretty much all I did in college, and it would be fun to get back to that.

Thank you again so much for Rebecca Kupka for taking the time for this fascinating interview! It was an incredible opportunity to find out more about a not-so-familiar member of the sensational Jersey Boys Broadway cast. Continued success to Rebecca in Jersey Boys and her future endeavors!


  1. I love hearing about the lives of members in the cast not usually heard from. She sounds like a very down to earth woman, what a great interview! I especially enjoyed the bit about her daughter repeating Joey’s line…

    Comment by Courtney — August 29, 2007 @ 7:21 am

  2. I absolutely loved this interview. What a beautiful woman Rebecca is. Smart, funny, down to earth, and obviously very family oriented. Thank you for taking us even more behind the scenes and introducing us to this fascinating talent. I laughed out loud.

    Comment by Catherine — August 29, 2007 @ 8:11 am

  3. What a marvelous interview! She seems like such a sweet person and obviously very talented. I also enjoyed the story about her daughter quoting Joey.

    Comment by Lauren — August 29, 2007 @ 12:05 pm

  4. This was such a joy to read. I have worked with Rebecca and everything that comes across in this interview is real. She is truely a great performer as well as a great person. I worked on that production of Beauty that she talked about and we still keep in touch as mucha s we can.

    Comment by Chris — November 14, 2007 @ 1:07 pm

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