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Connecticut Theatre Company

Spotlight On: Michelle Rocheford Johnston



Connecticut Theatre Company’s “Spotlight On…” series continues with a look into our talented cast and crew of Nine. Get to know Michelle Rocheford Johnston who is portraying Liliane LaFleur!




Introduce Yourself to Our Audience:

Hi I’m Michelle Rocheford Johnston.


Why did you want to be involved in this production?

As a senior in college, I had an audition scheduled in 1982 to audition for Tommy Tune for the original cast of Nine.  Unfortunately, I came down with strep throat and laryngitis and was unable to audition. I have always wanted to be a part of this show and it doesn’t come around very often, if ever.  42 years later, here I am! 


How do you prepare for a new role or character, and what techniques do you use?

For this particular role, I am practicing my French accent, learning the French lines and the French lyrics.  It’s constant practicing to become fast enough and authentic enough to pass for a Parisian. 🙂


What do you love about your character?

I love that the character of Liliane LeFleur is one who has come full circle in her life, from a singer and dancer at the Folies Bergere to a movie producer with power.  This was not typical in the 1950s and 60s. 


What challenges did you face bringing the script to life?

Besides the French accent, this is a production where the actors are on stage 99% of the time.  It will be a challenge to stay in character, remember the sequence of events and the music – the music is incredibly difficult, but beautiful.


Who do you look up to (as an actor/director/etc.)?

As a performer, I look up to Meryl Streep.  She embodies every character, from the look, to the accent, the posture, gait, mannerisms – and she is not proud.  If her character is unattractive, she allows herself that freedom.  Some actors only want to look good – Meryl Streep wants to BE good. And she was once an intern/performer in this building as a very young woman


What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?

I like to be alone backstage, quietly listening to the audience.  I feed off the energy from the audience’s anticipation of the show.


What is your favorite film or theater production and why?

I think my favorite theatre production is A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.  It’s not a show I’ve been a part of or ever think I will be part of, but the production I saw, on Broadway was the original cast, including Jefferson Mays, from Clinton, CT, who played the lead.  He was astonishing.  He played nine different characters from the same family (including a woman!) with nine different accents, different facial hair, costumes, etc.  The costume changes were 10-20 seconds long, if that, with complete changes for him.  The music was amazingly clever, the set was fantastic (painted by my scenic artist friend, April Chateauneuf, who painted it originally for the Hartford Stage production.  They just picked it up and plopped it on Broadway!). I would see it again and again.


Nine opens May 17th and runs through June 2nd at Connecticut Theatre Company. Tickets on sale now!


“A galloping fantasy [with a] ravishingly inventive and tuneful score.” – The New York Times