By BeBe Sweetbriar
While most pre-teens can be found playing games with friends in their neighborhood playground, former child star Daisy Eagan was busy picking up a Tony Award at the age of 11 for her winning performance as Mary Lennox in the Broadway musical The Secret Garden. Eagan remains the youngest female ever to win a Tony. A tremendous accomplishment, indeed, but after as unexpected pregnancy and subsequent birth of her son, Monty, 23 years later, Eagan’s biggest successes most probably lay ahead of her.
Billed as “what happens when a brash, cynical, inappropriate former child star finds out she’s pregnant with a kid she never planned on? She becomes a brash, cynical, inappropriate mother.” “I certainly was not a fan of children until I had one,” says Eagan. The Tony Award-winning Eagan is back on stage as an opinionated woman, mother and performer in self-written storytelling show called One For My Baby. Debuting in San Francisco on Marc 28, One For My Baby is directed by Drew Droege (yes, the same Chloe Sevigny impersonario) with musical direction by Brandon James Gwinn. Eagan uses edgy humor (not a show for the kiddies) and some of her favorite songs to tell the story of going from the Baby of Broadway to the Mama of Hollywood. Eagan says in speaking of the songs in the show, “While I was pregnant I’d listen to Blossom Dearie, and I thought how fun would it be to use songs people usually associate with romance and re-frame them about a kid. They’re love songs, but they don’t sound like romantic love songs. So, I chose jazz standards for the show.”
This will be Eagan’s third written stage show after a long hiatus from performing having written and performed in live soap opera Crystal Park and one-woman show “Still Daisy After All These Years”. Following the San Francisco debut, One For My Baby continues to Los Angeles, New York, and San Diego. Lacking formal sponsorship, the show continues to increase national tour dates with help, in part, from funds raised from an Indigogo campaign called the Daisy Eagan National Tour. www.indigogo.com/daisy-eagan-national-tour
BeBe: This latest self written project of yours One For My Baby is of course inspired, in part, by your new son, who is now less than one year old. But, there is obviously more to this show than becoming a mom.
Daisy Eagan: Oh yes, of course. The good thing about this show is I think it will appeal to people even if they are not fans of children. I certainly was not a fan of children until I had one (laughs wildly). I think my take on it is sewed enough that it can appeal to the non-children liking crowd. It’s largely about me finding out I was two-months pregnant and deciding we were going to have him. And it’s also about how sort of crazy it is to raise a child in this sort of overly informed world we live in.
BeBe: So different (raising children) from when we were growing up, huh?
Daisy Eagan: Oh my God, completely different! I don’t remember my house being baby proofed. We lived in a very tall, narrow house with three staircases with definite bends in them, and there were no baby gates. We just tumbled down the stairs and that’s just how it worked.
BeBe: Nor (were there) those guards in the electrical sockets.
Daisy Eagan: You fell down. You hit your head. And, you were like, okay next time I’ll try not to do that. Nowadays, it’s like putting foam around all edges of sharp furniture. We haven’t done any of that. We have put some plug protectors in but for now, that’s the extent of what we’ve done. I mean, what kind of toys your supposed to buy, and what kind of classes your supposed to take can just be insane.
BeBe: In this show, you have used a variety of your talents to tell your story. Of course, one of them is your singing talent. How did you choose the songs you perform on One For My Baby?
Daisy Eagan: The last show that I did 2 years ago, I had chosen a couple of songs then, One For My Baby and What’ll I Do. Just because I like those songs. My musical director. and I felt those were the most successful songs of that show, and his opinion was that I really should be singing jazz standards. I started hearing that from more and more people, and I realized that is mostly what I listened to and have listened to since I as a teenager. So, I then realized, too, that that is what I should be doing.
And then, also a couple of years ago, I was tuned on to Blossom Dearie. While I was pregnant I’d listen to Blossom Dearie, and I thought how fun would it be to use songs people usually associate with romance and re-frame them about a kid. They’re love songs, but they don’t sound like romantic love songs. So, I chose jazz standards for the show. I looked at a lot of Blossom Dearie. Harold Arlen is my favorite composer, so I took some of his stuff. Ella Fitzgerald is my all-time favorite singer. So, that’s how I picked the music. One of the things I like about this show is that the music is a nice juxtaposition to the text. The text is at times very inappropriate. It’s very blue material at times, hopefully (laughing). And then, you’ve got the songs that are a little more traditional. I think it will be a nice balance.
BeBe: I think people who have followed you through the years will be excited to see you in your new phase, and how you have been able to turn it into this show with your singing, monologues and the like.
Daisy Eagan: The biggest thing they haven’t experienced from me (before) is the comedy. The more I’m on stage the more comfortable I am with ad lib, too. A lot of the show is going to be loosey-goosey. I like to feel the audience and sort of rift. I think that really surprises people. I like the fact I can be surprising to people with a talent they didn’t know I had. I think the main thing is that people are excited to see me in this new phase, especially those who have known my public self since I was a child
BeBe: You had the great fortune, I guess fortune would be correct to say, to realize success at an early age winning a Tony Award for The Secret Garden at 11. How much of your growing up in the theater will play apart in how you raise your son?
Daisy Eagan: It’s funny to say I was fortunate to have such success. I mean I was certainly very lucky to get the George (Tony Award Trophy) that I got and have that success. I think in retrospect, in some ways, I think if somebody had shown me here is how your life is going to go, I probably would have chosen things differently. Just because getting so much success that quickly was kind of a mixed blessing. It took me a very long time to learn the value of discipline and hard work. I said I wanted to be an actor and then I was and then won the top honor in my field. So, as far as I knew that’s how it went. And, that’s not how it goes.. One way that will form how I raise Monty is I want him to understand that hard work and discipline are important and they don’t have to be a bad thing. I would prefer that he not be an actor, but if he is insisting upon it when he’s young, I think I might let him do community theater and hopefully get it out of his system ( we laugh).
BeBe: It sounds like this show documents a lot of changes for you in becoming an adult, a woman, and growing as a performer. You have spoken about finding your way to performing jazz standards, and accepting motherhood eventhough it wasn’t planned. Those are some relatively recent changes. But those too will change while Monty is growing up. Could One For My Baby just be the first in a series of motherhood storytelling shows? Perhaps there’s a One For My Adolescent and so on in the future?
Daisy Eagan: I’m sure it could be. I’m sure Monty will be a fountain of material throughout his life. I certainly don’t want to exploit him, but I think this experience (raising a child) is going to be a bottomless well of material.
BeBe: With more and more gay men and women becoming parents and starting families together, I’m curious if you have had any feed back from your gay fan base about the concept of the show?
Daisy Eagan: I’m so glad that my LGBT friends now have the opportunity to legally marry and protective rights for their families. I never understood the opposition yelling and screaming about a family has to be a mother and a father. We all have communities around, and every child is going to get influenced by everybody, men and women, around them.
BeBe: I know you have written and starred in a stage soap opera a few years ago called Crystal Park, and One For My Baby sounds very sitcom worthy. A lot of sitcoms come out of real family experiences. I know we may be looking out into the distant future here, but have you had any ideas of writing a sitcom based on this show?
Daisy Eagan: Hopefully not too far into the future? Crystal Park was a live show and that was definitely absurd comedy. I played a 400lb woman who was convinced she was black and had given birth to the Second Coming. It was hilarious, but very offensive. And yes, it’s everybody’s dream to get a development deal to make something into a TV show. I would absolutely love it. Once the show is solely off the ground I might look at putting my focus into writing a pilot.
Daisy Eagan debuts One For My Baby at the Society Cabaret at the Hotel Rex in San Francisco, CA on March 28 through March 29. www.societycabaret.com
One For The My Baby is currently touring to the following cities:
04/21 Rockwell Los Angeles, CA
05/04 54 Below New York, NY
05/22 Martinis Above 4th San Diego, CA
For update on new tour dates and Daisy Eagan information go to www.daisyeagan.com