Meet Erika Amato as Lela Rogers in Backwards In High Heels.
Erika Amato plays Leila Rogers, Ginger's mother in our production of Backwards In High Heels. Pictured here with Darien Crago (as Ginger.) Read about how this Jersey girl got her start!
I grew up in Mountainside, NJ and went to the all-girls Kent Place School, in Summit. I was an only child with an extremely active imagination, constantly acting out the adventures of Robin Hood in my backyard or singing impromptu improvised operas in my bedroom. (My parents were extremely understanding.) I acted and sang all throughout my primary and secondary school years, and then attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where I was a Drama major (general honors and honors in Drama). After graduation, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue TV and film. While there, I met my husband, Jeff Stacy, with whom I formed a successful indie rock band called Velvet Chain. I lived there for 17 years (doing TV, film and theatre work in addition to the "rock star" stuff) until we moved back East a few years ago so I could better pursue a career in musical theatre.
I've always wanted to be an actor and a singer. I started singing at 3 years old, and played my first lead at age 8. (I was the "Little Peasant" in the play THE LITTLE PEASANT at a summer drama camp that year.) When we filled out our little "What do you want to be when you grow up?" questionnaires in primary school, my answer was, "An actress or a veterinarian." (My allergies put the kibosh on any plans to be a vet!) As for mentors, my first mentor was certainly the drama teacher at Kent Place, Bob Pridham, who still teaches there. He's truly an excellent educator who doesn't treat school plays like anything less than "real" productions. He always encourages all his students to do real, truthful work - not just "hamming it up." Professionally, I'd say my mentor is the wonderful Betty Buckley, who I had the pleasure of meeting and performing with at the Hollywood Bowl back in 2006 and have taken master classes from (and become friends with) since. She is a genius at communicating with an audience (besides that marvelous voice), and I aspire to achieve some of that same effect on people.
I'd heard of the show a couple of years back, having seen a casting notice for it, but really didn't know anything about it until I got the audition appointment for this production. I think it's a great piece, and Lela Rogers is a very interesting, multi-faceted character to play.
One of my favorite shows in Stephen Sondheim's INTO THE WOODS, which I just got to do this past spring up at Ocean State Theatre in RI. I played the Witch, which also happens to be one of my dream roles. I've been very fortunate to have already played quite a few of my dream roles, but a couple of the ones that I haven't had a chance to do yet are Mama Rose in GYPSY and Mrs. Lovett in SWEENEY TODD.
When not on stage, If it's the summer, I adore going to the beach - or just being near the water. I love to read, and of course I enjoy spending time with my husband and our fabulous dog, Buddy.
Right now, I'm listening to a lot of 80s New Wave/punk (the Smiths, Violent Femmes, the Police, Tears for Fears, U2, the Cure, etc.), as well as more current stuff like Radiohead and the Killers. And of course, the Beatles. Nobody beats the Beatles.