In the Wings: Penn’s Landing Playhouse’s Lauren Rooney, Star of Respect

Getting to know Philly’s brightest theater talents.

Penn’s Landing Playhouse is about to go on a musical journey of women: The hit musical Respect opens at the theater on April 8, and includes everyone’s favorite songs “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “These Boots are Made for Walking,” “I Will Survive,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” We were lucky to catch up with one of the performers, Lauren Rooney, who dished on what she does before she starts a performance (it has to do with both Carol Burnett and her late grandmother), and who her celebrity crush is.

Lauren Rooney Header

My name is… Lauren Rooney. In high school I was given the nickname laroons, and ever since I’ve used it as my email and username for just about everything.

I am a… Philadelphian, born and raised and Temple made. I love washing down a (real) soft pretzel with a tall glass of wooder and putting jimmies on my ice cream. I love to travel but there is nothing like flying back into Philly International, in the evening, while it glows copper just beyond the Delaware River. In my opinion no town will ever be better than this one.

On opening night… I will, along with my unbelievably talented cast and crew, celebrate bringing this awesome story to the first of many audiences this year. I will also rub my nose at curtain call in honor of my Grandmother. Just like Carol Burnett would pull her ear at the end of each show for her mother, I would rub my nose for my grandmother at the end of each show she saw me in before she passed. I know she’s up in heaven rubbing hers right back at me like she used to do from the audience!

My favorite part of the show is… when I get to play Marilyn Monroe. I have always been really fascinated by her and I am honored to get to tell her story in this celebration of women.

To get into character for this I have been watching movies and listening to songs by the women I portray while exploring how they relate to my own journey into womanhood.

My first stage kiss… was with my good friend, Adam, in Archbishop Ryan’s version of Kiss Me, Kate. I was a sophomore and I’ll never forget on opening night when we both finished the last note of “Wonderbar,” leaning in for our romantic kiss, a bead of sweat dropped off of Adam’s nose and right into my mouth. Talk about a trial by fire as far as stage kisses go!

Lauren Rooney

Lauren Rooney

The first play I was in was… called Touched by a Child and I’m pretty sure my high school made it up. I played in the ensemble, but I did have a solo as an Angel, I think?

My dream role is… Gosh I have so many. Kate in Kiss Me, Kate, again. Mother in Ragtime, again. Anna in The King and I, again. But, if I had to choose, it is Dinah from Starlight Express. It’s fine, you may judge me. I love to roller skate.

My surprising celebrity crush is… Billy Joel. If you are somehow reading this, Billy, please call me. We can have a meal, chat, get married…

The most famous person I’ve ever met… I met Dan Aykroyd in a liquor store parking lot in Las Vegas, and that was pretty cool, but if you are a theater nerd, then it has to be Linda Eder. I got to be in a reading with her, and she is an amazing person and her voice is truly remarkable!

The last thing I binge-watched… Friends. It is so relevant to my almost thirties life right now!

To stay in shape I… run, lift, yoga, repeat.

The last time I dined out in Philadelphia, I ate an amazing Lebanese sandwich at Café La Maude in Northern Liberties.

The best show I saw in Philly recently… I would have to say Xanadu. We do such great work in Philly in the most amazing spaces and again, I love me some rollerskates!

The best thing about Philadelphia’s theater scene is… We are small but mighty. The Philadelphia theater community is truly like a family. This town has so much history in the arts and we do such a great job of honoring that history by making great work all year around.

‘Respect: A Musical Journey of Women’ runs at Penn’s Landing Playhouse from April 8 through May 31. For more information, click here.