2017-05-18 / Around Town

She's Right at Home on Broadway

Conversation with Lynn Ceglie
By James Merolla

Lynn Ceglie gives a cheer in the National Police Parade recently in Newport. (Photo by Lynne Tungett) Lynn Ceglie gives a cheer in the National Police Parade recently in Newport. (Photo by Lynne Tungett) There have been Broadway musicals about City Hall over the decades. “Fiorello!” and “Diamond Jim,” which centered on former New York mayors and their shenanigans, come immediately to mind.

There have been musicals about the White House and its top resident, such as “Mr. President” and “I’d Rather be Right.”

There have also been shows where the average man, with only a donkey and a delusion, fought against the windmills of oppression in an effort to tilt them over to save his tiny pocket of society (“Man of La Mancha”).

Newport has a multi-term city councilor, Lynn Ceglie, who is just as comfortable tilting windmills as she is singing about them. Her musical theater background goes back to her childhood in the center of Newport.

Newport This Week recently talked to Ceglie about her musical pedigree, the future plans for The Opera House and what other city officials possess a singing background.

Newport This Week: So, would it surprise your constituents to know that you have appeared in and auditioned for musicals?

CEGLIE: Probably not. I do love musical theater and had a great time in productions at Bristol Theater Company and a series of shows produced at Trinity Church. Those Trinity shows were quite popular.

What’s your favorite show and why?

I have so many favorites, but my top is probably “Gypsy" by Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim. It has a great story, with showstopper music.

Sometimes, government and the arts cross directly. What was the recent tour of the historic Opera House like? How does it bode for a truly big return of musical performances and theater to Newport?

The repairs are bringing out the color and beauty of the original design and architecture. It is an impressive place. The Opera House will revitalize Washington Square and the downtown. I believe that live performances are going to be very welcome in Newport by residents and visitors alike. We are so lucky to have a historic theater and the dedicated people working to bring it back to life.

How is it coming along? Can you update our readers?

There are plans for an expandable stage, which will make the theater very versatile for large and small productions. The Opera House will hold about 700 seats.

A grand staircase and elevator are in the works. The view from the theater over to Eisenhower Park and the rest of Washington Square is stunning. Every time I go through, tremendous progress is being made.

Why have local house theaters, once so abundant around town, gone the way of the passenger pigeon?

In a word, television!

With a full family still at home, and your self-professed, endless search for making the perfect omelet, coupled with your full council schedule, do you think you will ever audition for a show again?

Absolutely. My dream role was always Miss Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls,” but now, getting older, I’m afraid my new dream role might have to be Mama Rose (the pushy matron in “Gypsy”)!

What's the most effective or affecting live theater performance you have ever witnessed?

It was The Metropolitan Opera’s production of “Madame Butterfly,” such a beautiful spectacle. The voices were otherworldly. Also, seeing my daughter emerge as an actress who discovered her love of theater while playing the lead of “Our Town” at Rogers High School was incredibly moving.

Who would the public be surprised to know is a theater aficionado or a tremendous secret singing talent?

The city’s Human Resource Director, Michael Coury, is a big theater guy. People might not realize that Justin McLaughlin, who just left the council, is quite the aficionado, though I’m trying to get him into some jazz. I’m working on it.

Of all the city departments, which one would win a City Hall talent contest?

City Council, hands down!

Return to top