Lisa Mayer-Lang, Toledo native, is the best kind of threat there is to musical theater: a triple threat. With acting, voice and dance talent to boot, Lisa landed her first job on the Fame and Musical Tour. It was love at first curtain call. But, twenty years and several stints on Broadway later, Lisa decided it was time to go back to her roots and pay homage to the schools that made it all possible for her. She now teaches at the University of Michigan and the Toledo Ballet, where she helps produce Broadway stars.
You did musical theater for 20 years, and a lot of shows in that time. Which was your favorite?
Carousel. I danced the role of Louise when I was 14, and that’s when I really got my first taste of musical theater. So when it came to New York, I knew the show, but the audition process was the hardest I’ve ever been through. Usually a show has two callbacks, but this show had six. There were a bunch of professional ballerinas, but they wanted people who could sing, dance and act. I could do all three. When I landed this show, I just knew — it was so rewarding. The cast was so talented.
Why did you decide to come back home and teach?
It was just time. We [Michael, my partner and I] wanted our girls to have family around — to have all that “normal stuff” we had growing up. When we came back, U of M called me because of my time on Broadway, and shortly after, the Toledo Ballet called. I knew it must be right.
Madeline Trumble, one of your former students, is coming to Toledo to perform as the star of Mary Poppins. How does it make you feel, knowing you helped her get there?
To even get into U of M’s theater program is like trying to get on Broadway — we get 1200 video auditions and 800 live auditions and only 18 to 20 students make it — so the ones that do are already extremely talented. But the fact that Maddie landed such a major play is amazing. I am so excited to take the class to see her next week.
What advice do you have for anyone hoping to break onto Broadway?
You’ve got to be a triple threat — a great dancer, singer and actor. The competition is so fierce. You have to be able to do everything.
Lisa Mayer-Lang's former student, Madeline Trumble, will take the stage as Mary Poppins Tuesday, February 26 through Sunday, March 3 at the Stranahan Theatre, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. For tickets, call 419-381-8851 or visit www.marypoppins.com/ticket/toledo-oh.