Danielle Ferland in ‘The Most Beautiful Room in New York’ at Long Wharf Theatre
Danielle Ferland, a Derby native who grew up in Stratford, is best known for originating the role of Little Red Riding Hood in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.”
But that wasn’t her first Broadway show. The singer/actress debuted on the Great White Way when she was 12, in Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George.”
Over the years, Ferland, 46, has appeared in many other productions, as well as on television (“The Good Wife”). The New Jersey resident, living there with her husband and kids, is back in her home state this month to perform in a new musical, “The Most Beautiful Room in New York,” at Long Wharf Theatre.
“Beautiful Room,” with book and lyrics by Adam Gopnik and music by David Shire, runs through Sunday, May 28. It tells the story of a passionate, restaurant owner/chef who makes food of uncompromising quality, while trying to survive in the crowded, cutthroat Manhattan food scene.
Things heat up when an old friend and rival — a hotshot celebrity type — enters the scene as a possible savior. The thing is, he wants to make over the restaurant.
Ferland plays Gloria, the chef’s longtime friend. She wanted the role for several reasons, especially because the timely story explores what it means to stay true to your values, and because the cast is “fantastic.” Ferland said there’s plenty of funny moments in the show, and drama, too. She said the writing is very clever and it’s a lot about community and family, and that’s what’s really important.
“Gloria lives with her wife and we sell cheese at the farmers’ market; we’re supporters of the farm-to-table movement,” Ferland said. “We’ve been friends (with the chef) for years. We love bringing in food and selling it to restaurants. It’s all about fresh food, not the commercialization of everything.”
She and her wife have ups and downs like any marriage. “Gloria doesn’t make a lot of waves, but don’t get on her bad side. She’s a passionate person who speaks up if there is an injustice.”
The show includes parallel stories, while exploring how a stand-alone restaurant can survive in a changing world, in any city, with commercialization and rents going up, she said. The chef and his wife believe in what they’re doing, bringing people together over really good food. But the sands are shifting.
“It’s disturbing, of course, because as the world changes you have to change with it ... but at the same time, you have to maintain your values and what you believe in. You have to survive, and maybe compromise (but not sell out), do it in a way so you can still be happy.”
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