Nancy Hess

There is a scene in Harold Prince’s and Gillian Lynne’s staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA during which Madame Giry is silently leading a corp of young female dancers through a series of movements prepping them for a day of rehearsal…Nancy Hess, as Madame Giry, is hypnotic. I would use the same word for the effect she has in her brief but memorable scene in the dance film CENTER STAGE. She’s a radiant beauty as well as a gifted actress.

Your favorite room in your house or apartment? Why?

My favorite room in my house is my garden. Sadly I can only use it in the warm weather but it’s my sanctuary. It’s a great place to start the day with my coffee before the streets of NYC bombard you.

Is there something that you know to be true that you wish others would embrace?

Nancy: I’m not sure if you mean about me or life in general and I fear I’ll be terribly inarticulate if I attempt something

I had a teacher who quoted an old Tibetan proverb: ‘Man says time passes. Time says man passes.’ – It freaked me out for years! Talk about a phrase or saying that has stuck with you since you first heard it?

Nancy: My friend Darlene Wilson used to say to her young students, “If you’re
busy (or worried about) being someone else, who’s going to be you?” It’s such a brilliant question for young people who are perhaps self-
conscious or lacking in confidence or self-esteem.  
The truth is, the essence of this is something we as actors can always draw upon: stay out of your own way, bring yourself to the work, go into the audition room with what you have, not with what you don’t have. Be yourself….it’s enough
believe it or not!

Do you have a favorite love song?

Nancy: I can’t say I have a favorite. I think any standard ballad is beautiful. The composers of yesteryear expressed
simple and direct sentiments, which were set to melodies that embraced you.

What’s your favorite smell? Does it conjure up any specific memories for you?

Nancy: They do say that smell is the greatest sense memory. I think my favorite smell is that of fresh herbs, rosemary in particular. While I was on tour with Phantom I went to the Desert Botanical Gardens outside of Tempe, Arizona and there was an herb garden that was intoxicating…..a heavenly mix of nature’s bounty. 

If you had the resources to be a ‘patron’ (financially support an artist or assist in their support in order that they could live their dream) what would your criteria be for them to gain your support?

Nancy: Interesting question. If I had an answer for this I’d probably have a better
idea of what my next move as an artist should be…..

Do you eat breakfast? What’s a typical breakfast for you?

Nancy: Always coffee with half-and-half, sometimes cereal, sometimes toast with P,B and J.

If you were given a talking parrot – what would be the first thing you would teach it to say?

Nancy: I’d teach it sounds from nature, such as a gentle rain, or a breeze through tall trees and use it as a white
noise machine so as not to hear upstairs neighbors when I go to bed.

Cat or dog? Why?

I love all animals but I do prefer cats because there’s still that bit of wild animal in them. I love their independence and how all decisions are theirs.
They’re smart, sensitive, well-groomed, give you space when you need it, and have a sense of humor…..the perfect mate.

Water view or Mountain view? Why?

As much as I enjoy a water view I prefer the mountains. Their majesty is awe-inspiring and I always feel at peace and draw from their strength when I’m surrounded by their splendor.