The Southern Belle

A self-proclaimed “Southern Belle,” Alabama native Rosie Webber makes her FST Debut in the hit Cabaret, Outlaws and AngelsRosie has been to Sarasota before though – she spent a few nights here when she performed at the Van Wezel with the national tour of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.

We sat down with Rosie to discuss how she taught herself piano, the raw emotion she puts into her performances, and her connection to the songs she performs in Outlaws and Angels.

Due to popular demand, Outlaws and Angels has been extended through April 12 in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret. For tickets and more information, click here.

Do you have a personal connection to the music in Outlaws and Angels? Which songs speak to you?

It’s difficult to not relate to this music in some way. These artists are so real, so honest. It’s absolutely infectious. What sticks out most to me is that many of these musicians came from simple beginnings.

I have six sisters and we never had two nickels to rub together, but my Momma did everything she could to give us a rich life. The artists’ understanding and incredibly authentic depiction of hard times is what makes songs like “Coat of Many Colors” so poignant. I’ve lived it, and it gives me hope and comfort to see my idols tell similar stories.

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Rosie Webber. Photo by Matthew Holler.

What is the most fun part of this Cabaret for you? What is the most challenging?

Getting to perform with some of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met is the most fun part of Outlaws and Angels for me. We get onstage and our job is to have a good time and to share that good time with the audience. We get to be silly and fun, but we also get to be there for each other through the more intense songs. When we come offstage, we laugh and laugh. Performing with my cast mates is such a real, genuine thing.

What I have found to be the most challenging thing is pouring out so much of myself every night. I make a point to give everything I have to every audience and leave nothing behind, which can be exhausting. It takes a lot of rest, mindfulness, and calling my Momma to sustain that. When you’re in a profession like this, whether you’re performing or not, you have to give so much of yourself everyday. It’s important to remember to feed your own soul and replenish your own reserves. Every day I ask myself, “What does Rosie need? How can you feed your soul so that you can give to others?”

Everyone plays at least one, if not multiple, instruments in this show. What instruments do you play in Outlaws and Angels? Which is your favorite?

I play the piano and guitar in the show. Not to pick favorites, but piano has always been my passion. I had a babysitter that played the piano, and I remember begging her to play piano for me when I was small – I was fascinated. I knew that I had to learn how to play. I’m not a formally taught pianist – pretty much everything I know I taught myself.

You perform a room-stilling rendition of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.” What’s going through your mind in that captivating moment?

It depends on the night and what has happened that day. While I try not to use too much of my own reality in my performance, it’s hard not to let in some of my personal experiences. We’ve all experienced heartbreak at some point in our life. We’ve all felt like we were crazy, or felt like someone has taken advantage of us.

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Rosie Webber. Photo by Matthew Holler.

This song is especially poignant for me because it emphasizes how much the songwriter blames themselves. They knew that the heartbreak was going to happen, which makes it all the more painful. My main objective when performing this song is to pay tribute to Willie Nelson, the songwriter, and Patsy Cline, the singer who made it famous. I never want to “copy” Patsy Cline. Instead, I want to bring an essence to the song that honors her and acknowledges her for the incredible musician she was.

Being from the South, it might be easy to assume that you’re familiar with this style music. What did you already know about outlaw music before this show, and what were you surprised to learn?  

I knew a lot of these songs beforehand, but many were completely new to me. I obviously knew the singers – like Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and Johnny Cash – they’re all household names. Some of the songs, like “Merry Christmas from the Family” and “Just to Satisfy You” were new to me. It was so cool to get to expand my country music repertoire a little!

Due to popular demand, Outlaws & Angels has been extended through April 12 in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret. For tickets and more information, click here.