Broadway co-star remembers a girl with ‘natural,’ ‘prodigious’ talent
Kate Shindle, who appeared with Carly Rose Sonenclar two years ago in “Wonderland” on Broadway, says “I’m totally fan-girling this girl I met when she was 11 years old.”
Shindle, who was Miss America 1998 (the year before Carly was born), says the pint-sized singer’s “X Factor” success is well-deserved.
“The freaky thing about Carly is that — as much as I am insanely jealous of her singing talent because it’s so natural and so prodigious — she’s also one of those people that you can’t help being happy for. Because, I’ll tell you what, there are some crazy show kids in our business. I don’t know what her parents have done to make sure she remains a normal, balanced, humble, approachable kid, but they’ve done a great job.
“I thought it was hilarious that Carly’s big back story is that she misses her brother,” Shindle said. “Meanwhile, everybody else is pulling out every trick in the book to make them sympathetic to voters. And Carly is just getting up there and killing it vocally.”
Shindle says Sonenclar seems a bit out of place in reality TV, but she belongs in the singing competition.
“Because she doesn’t have an outsized personality and she doesn’t pander, I think people who are used to watching reality shows noticed the bigger personalities first. But to me, all that matters as a viewer and a supporter of hers, is that for the 90 seconds or 120 seconds when she has the microphone in her hand, she just kills it. My boyfriend and I watch the show together. He hates those shows, but he loves Carly.”
“The amazing thing is that she continues to do things as a musician that I didn’t know she could do. The first time I heard her sing, I thought there was an Auto-Tune machine hiding in the room. Her pitch is that square.”
Shindle says that the best description of Sonenclar came from the composer of “Wonderland,” Frank Wildhorn, who (while working with her two years ago) called Sonenclar “a 40-year-old soul singer in an 11-year-old’s body.”
Shindle says there have been times she worried about her former co-star during the competition, only to have the 13-year-old show that her worries were unfounded.
“That night she sang the song from ‘Titanic,’ I was a little nervous, like ‘Oh, here we go,’ but then I watched it 15 times and watched in over and over, like ‘How does she do that?’”
Shindle jokes, saying “I blame her for tying up my Wednesday and Thursday nights.”
Hollywood’s gain may be Broadway’s loss for now, but Shindle says she’s happy for her friend.
“I’d love to see her on Broadway again. When this is over, even if she doesn’t win the competition, she’d spend about five minutes without a record deal. It would be a shame if we didn’t see her back on Broadway again, but it’d be a bigger shame if she didn’t take a couple of years with the best people in the business in a recording studio.”
Photo by Paul Kolnik: Carly Rose Sonenclar as Chloe in the Broadway production of “Wonderland,” an adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland.”