Dude, how cool is Kacie Sheik? She starred as Jeannie in the hit revival of Hair, she’s a complete rockstar, and she’s about to star as Gypsy Rose Lee in the musical February House, which opens at the Public Theater on May 8. We caught up with her backstage at Joe’s Pub, where she was singing some tunes in a recent showcase by Drew Gasparini. We chatted about hair — the show, and her actual lovely tresses – being fake-pregnant, and what it’s like to keep company with geniuses. Enjoy!
L: OK, most important thing first. Please offer any tips for caring for curly hair.
Kacie: Something I learned years ago. Out of the shower, before you even diffuse – the diffuser is key, of course – is to use paper towels. They sop up more of the water than a towel. It’s just about weight, and water adds weight to the hair. And Bumble and Bumble — the Curly line — is awesome. There’s also like, a little gold tube that’s called Shine.
L: Congrats on February House! How do you feel playing this character, Gypsy Rose Lee, that has such an iconic history in musical theater?
K: It’s so exciting. I grew up with Gypsy, and I grew up with all the songs memorized, and I did community theater productions of it. So it’s great to dig in further. And I think my grandfather said it best. My brother Peter asked him, ‘So how do you feel about Kacie playing this famous stripper?’ And at Christmas Eve dinner, he said, ‘I think it’s an honor.’
L: The show is kind of about a meeting of the minds, with all of these great thinkers and personalities together in one room. Have you ever had an experience like that?
K: I’ve had two that I can think of off the top of my head – the We Will Rock You experience, and the Hair experience. Those were life-changing moments. On one hand, it was Brian May and Roger Taylor sitting there at your callbacks and then at music rehearsals and work sessions. And they’re Queen! And then their friends would come by, so suddenly you’d be like… singing at a party in Las Vegas with Meatloaf. And then the Hair experience, having Jim Rado and Galt MacDermot there with us was amazing.
L: Were you a huge musical theater kid when you were younger?
K: I was. I did community theater and had my mom driving me around to rehearsals and to do shows. We had been a soccer family, and then suddenly we just shifted. I was in a children’s theater company, so my first role was Lily St. Regis in Annie. I think I was twelve. And when I auditioned, I sang along to the soundtrack of Cats. I sang “Memory.”
L: One of the key things about Jeannie in Hair was that she was very pregnant. Any disconnect for the audience when they figured out that you weren’t?
K: Yes! At the dance party, there would be women touching the belly – because I was still in costume – and they’d be saying things like, “Oh, you really are pregnant!” Even at the stage door, people couldn’t really make sense of it. But the belly itself was amazing. The Act I belly was a bodysuit that had biker shorts and a leotard, and it had breasts and a belly. And the Act II belly, we used to describe as a giant knee pad. And that was so I could have the opportunity to take part in the nude scene. So I would shimmy it on, just right around my abdomen. It had a belly button. The skin tone matched my skin.
L: So, let me take you back for a minute. It’s spring, 1998. Your big brother’s song is all over the radio…
K: I remember my mom and dad going to the Bitter End [to see Duncan perform]. I was pretty young, and I was so mad, because I really wanted to go. And the other thing I remember from that time is my math class – my Algebra II class. And I remember the kids in my school being totally dumbfounded by this. They were like, “What do you mean, he’s your brother?” They just couldn’t understand it. And that song was the biggest deal. It was the song of the summer. I wish I could relive it. I’m Duncan’s biggest fan. My brother Peter and I will go to his concerts to this day and sing the worst and best harmonies to those songs.