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Roommates Play Same Role in "Applause"

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Vocal performance undergraduate seniors and roommates Renee Shohet and Chloe Savit both landed the lead role of Margo in Applause.

Based on the 1950 movie All About Eve, Margo is an actress struggling with the angst and insecurity of aging out of her profession. At the same time, she is being manipulated by the young starlet Eve, who will go to any extreme to replace Margo in the spotlight. We spoke to Renee and Chloe about auditioning on Zoom, how they approach playing Margo and what it’s like to see each other on stage.

Renee Shohet's current headshot appears on the left with a photo of her as a child on the right

Renee Shohet

When did your acting career begin?

Renee: I first played a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz at the college where my mother worked, but I really began pursuing acting and singing in earnest when I got into high school. I was in the choir and it was assumed if you were in choir you’d be in the musicals too. I loved it immediately. I was in Les Mis, How to Succeed in Business and then senior year, I played Mary Poppins.

Chloe: In the third grade, I had a playdate with the new girl in class. During the playdate, she started singing Broadway show tunes. When I asked her what these songs were, she said she had learned them during her voice lessons. I thought “I want to do that,” and the rest is history. In middle school, I became more serious and started performing in after-school musicals, and in community theatre productions in and around Boston.

What was the auditioning process like for Applause?

Renee: While we were home during lockdown in 2020, it was announced that there would be a fall show. I auditioned over Zoom. I found out I was going to play Margo a while later while I was home in Massachusetts working as a cook in a seafood restaurant. I opened the email and couldn’t believe it. I was so happy.

Chloe: In 2020, I auditioned over Zoom from my living room in Massachusetts. It was weird, but strangely comfortable. Originally, I was cast as the character Karen, which I was stoked about! With covid and lockdown, we never really knew if this show would ever happen. This fall, our program announced that the show was to finally be put up live and that they were going to double cast the show to give students more performing opportunities. Those of us who were cast previously were able to re-audition for other roles. I feel very fortunate to have landed the role of Margo, alongside my roommate and best friend.

How do you make yourself Margo?

On the left is Chloe Savit's current headshot. On the right is a photo of her as a child.

Chloe Savit

Renee: I watched All About Eve from 1950 starring Bette Davis as Margo. Her eyes alone are amazing. She’s like a tiger; so in control of everything going on around her. To play Margo, I lower my voice a bit and give it a biting edge. I make my spine really straight and try to be the tallest person on stage. Margo is always in control- until she isn't. 

Chloe: I watched the movie and listened to the original cast album with Lauren Bacall. A main theme in Applause is about the aging actress not being good anymore. I tried to channel times when I’ve not felt good enough for a certain role. While I most definitely cannot relate to being a woman in her 50’s, I feel like I can understand the feelings of jealousy and rejection, two of many emotions Margo lives with for the majority of the musical.  

Have you ever had to deal with an Eve personally or felt like an Eve?

Renee: I might have been an Eve at some point, not in a manipulating way though. When I was younger, I remember trying to emulate the behavior of my older friends and castmates that I admired.

Chloe: I’ve looked up to people and had those Broadway crushes. I’ve gotten to work with idols of mine and people I really admire, and like Eve, I tried to soak in every moment. 

How do you memorize your lines?

Renee: I can say a line a million times and it might not stick, but when I add it to a scene where there are responses it comes together. I memorize the lines of the people I’m on stage with. Remembering the flow of the conversation helps it make sense.

Chloe: Through the years, it’s gotten much easier. I went to a performing arts high school and studied theatre. I always had scene assignments for class, and I also had to memorize multiple songs and dances each week. I like to memorize my lines and lyrics in chunks, while slowly adding more and more to it. I also like to have people quiz me by saying aloud the lines before mine because those are my cues! 

Who is your role model?

Renee: I’ve always loved Sutton Foster. She can do everything. She has a quirkiness about her that I love. She’s funny and has a crazy voice. She plays so many different characters, but it’s always her up on the stage. She finds a way to infuse herself into a role, which I think is really amazing.

Chloe: Broadway actress Faith Prince. I find her comedic timing brilliant, and like myself, she brings a quirky character vibe to each and every role she portrays. 

How do you handle stage fright?

Renee: I channel it by moving my fear into energy. I know I sound like such a nerd, but in the Dune books they say “fear is the mind killer.” That's what I say to myself before I go on and then I take a deep breath and walk out on stage and do my very best. 

Chloe: When I’m getting into costume and putting on my makeup, I do not typically feel nervous. It’s always those 30 seconds right before I enter onstage from the wings that are the most nerve wracking. I usually just close my eyes and focus on my breathing. The fear isn’t that I’ll forget a line; it’s more that I will crack on a high note. The second I step foot onstage though, all of my fear goes away. 

How do you like the way your roommate plays Margo?

Renee: Chloe is so funny, clever and quick. I could watch her all day. Margo isn’t usually a funny character, but the way Chloe plays her makes you totally fall in love with her.

Chloe: Renee is fantastic. I can’t wait for the world to see her in this role. This part fits her like a glove. She is so good at all roles dramatic, sexy and serious. Her facial expressions and the way she walks around the stage is captivating.

Your goal post graduation?

Renee: Broadway singing and acting - the whole thing all at once. 

Chloe: I plan to audition for as many productions as possible in and around NYC, both small and large, but the goal at the end of the day is indeed Broadway.

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