After performing as a vocalist and singing the hit song “We Will Rock You” in front of 70,000 screaming fans over a decade ago, not to mention travelling with Guns ’n’ Roses across the globe, it may seem like Catherine Porter’s unique journey in the entertainment industry would be coming to an end.
However, with a Broadway debut last week and an album out and available on iTunes, the Hudson County native says her career is “just kicking off.”
Porter lives along the Hudson River waterfront in West New York with her husband and daughter – who attends school in Hoboken. She is currently the standby for Diana Goodman in Broadway’s “Next to Normal” and classifies the role as one of the more challenging of her career.
“Next to Normal” is a rock style musical and winner of three 2009 Tony Awards and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama.
“Do something that stimulates you creatively.” – Catherine Porter
She says the hardest part of being a standby is not knowing what lies ahead.
“It’s a horrible job to do when you’re waiting on a moment’s notice to fill in for a mega role,” she said. “You can’t just get chucked on stage, but that’s what happened to me. I just got shot out of the canon.”
Nevertheless, she described her Broadway debut as “awesome, terrifying, and thrilling.”
Porter’s career took her to the United Kingdom for 11 years, with part of her time there spent on “the Broadway of London” on the West End. She also spent a few years in Australia.
Hudson County life
Porter used to fly in jet planes across oceans with members of Guns ‘n’ Roses, but she now traverses the Park Avenue overpass to drop her daughter off at school in Hoboken. The intensity of her work away from her favorite job, “being mommy,” has not skipped a beat.
Her album “Gems for Ruby” was made for her daughter, and features songs from the ’70s and ’80s that Porter says she loved.
“We’ve stringed them up and slowed them down,” Porter said.
One song on the album is Queen’s “Somebody to Love”, which she sings while Brian May accompanies her with his guitar.
The Broadway show is Porter’s first time working in New York, but she seems to have found a comfortable place to live in Hudson County.
“I love the promenade in front of the river walkway,” she said. “We [Porter’s family] love bike riding along the promenade; but obviously not in the blizzard.”
In addition to performing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hits with Michael Crawford in a worldwide tour, Porter cites her work in Sunset Boulevard in Australia as one of her favorite moments in the spotlight.
I worked with Hugh Jackman before he was ‘Hugh Jackman’ in 1997, which was fun,” Porter said. “He was a doll to work with.”
“Unfortunately I had to kiss him on stage,” Porter said facetiously. “[‘Sunset Boulevard’] was one of my favorites. I did it in London as well.”
For aspiring entertainers, Porter says the development of a backup job and hobby will help lead to a successful career.
“If you love [entertaining], go for it with ever fiber of your being, but also find a business for yourselves,” Porter said.
She notes that a lot of downtime can exist in the industry, and sometimes people wait months between jobs.
“Create a business for yourself to do in the downtime that isn’t waiting tables,” she said. “Find something interesting or unique. Only 2 percent of people work all the time in this business. It’s always going to happen that people have downtime.”
Porter’s friends have performed a unique combination of occupations in their inevitable professional downtime.
“If it’s massage therapy you’re interested in, do it,” she said. “Do something that stimulates you creatively. It has to be something that makes you feel good about who you are. I know a friend who designs and sells jewelry between shows and she’s been able to establish herself.”
Porter said while she may not have followed the advice she gives today when she was a young performer, she did okay on her own.
“I tried to stock as much money away and not blow it, so when I had my downtime, I could live frugally and not have to take any small job,” she said.
Next for Porter is getting one of her own albums, which was released in the United Kingdom, out for sale in the United States. She also wants to get into another Broadway show and “keep moving forward.”