Margo Seibert was babysitting when she learned she had been chosen to play the role of Adrian in the first Broadway production of “Rocky,” a musical version of the 1976 Academy Award-winning film starring Sylvester Stallone, who co-authored the show’s libretto.
“The director, Alex Timber, called and said, ‘We want you to have the role of Adrian. You’ll get a formal offer on Monday,’” Seibert, 29, recalled. “I called my mom, and whispered, ‘I got the part.’ I couldn’t scream because the baby was sleeping. As an actor, you have a lot of part-time jobs in between shows.”
The story is a charming reminder that before she landed the role of a lifetime, Seibert was a nice Jewish girl from Glenelg, Md., who began her career performing in school plays in Howard County public schools and got her first professional break at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia when she was 16. Her first job was assisting the music teacher at the religious school of Columbia Jewish Congregation, where she was a member and became a bat mitzvah.
Margo Seibert is still kind of stunned. “It is so thrilling. Most people told me I’d be here, but I really didn’t know.”
For mother Debbie Seibert, having a daughter on Broadway has been “otherworldly.”
“There’s really no one else I can talk to about it, because so few people have experienced this,” said Debbie Seibert, who still lives in Glenelg. “I knew she had the talent, but I was also realistic about what she was up against. The big joke was that I made her go to American University. They have a great musical theater program, but I told her, ‘You can do as much musical theater as you want, but you have to get your degree in something else. So Margo got a degree in international relations. When she called and told me she got this part, I said, ‘Finally, someone sees what I see!’”
Although she’s been watching Margo perform all of her life, watching her daughter on a Broadway stage was nevertheless deeply moving.
“I had to keep reminding myself I was at the Winter Garden Theatre,” she said. “There is one point in the show when it’s just her on the stage singing, and it’s such a beautiful moment. I just started to cry.”
For Margo Seibert, playing the role of Adrian has been a wonderful journey. “I wasn’t really familiar with the movie, and I didn’t watch it until the fifth or sixth round of auditions,” she said. “It was interesting to find the Adrian in me. I’m a lot more outgoing than she is, but she has a vulnerability that we all have. It causes defenses, and we all express [our vulnerabilities] in different ways.
“In the play, Adrian’s role is expanded, and she really gets to blossom,” Seibert continued. “It’s very fulfilling. Who wouldn’t want to have a role where they fall in love and grow in self-confidence? I love the role.”
Seibert said she is also grateful to have had the opportunity to make her Broadway debut playing a new character in a new show. “This is what I have always done but on a smaller scale,” she said. “If I can have the opportunity to craft new characters and work with writers on brand new pieces, I will be very happy.”
Working with mega-star Stallone has been an extra perk, added Seibert. “It has been amazing and surreal,” she said. “He generously shared stories about his experience writing the screenplay for ‘Rocky,’ and his feedback during the preview process was incredibly helpful to the dynamic between Rocky and Adrian.”
Now that she is a Broadway star, Seibert’s life is busier than ever. “We do eight shows a week and also press events,” she said. “It’s very taxing energy-wise, but it’s so enjoyable. It’s like a marathon.”
Seibert noted that her costar, Andy Karl, also a Baltimorean, has an even more grueling role. “As Rocky, he’s working his butt off,” she said.
The fact that they grew up outside of Baltimore and performed — at different times — at Toby’s has strengthened their onstage bond. “We’ve really formed a kinship,” she said.
While Margo Seibert said she’s very happy living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, she credits Howard County, her family and her teachers there with helping her to become a successful performer.
“There was such an automatic respect for the arts there,” she said. “My music and drama teachers at Glenelg High School were like second and third mothers to me. High school is such a delicate time, and they were always so supportive. I don’t think I’d be where I am if I had not grown up in Howard County.”