Madison Lagares started as a kid in musical theatre and moved later to Broadway. She did a lot already in her life, like playing in Broadway shows and starting her own singer-songwriter career. You may know Madison from her role as Frenchy Facciano in Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies.
How did the love for singing and acting started?
Ever since I was younger, I was extremely active and didn’t know what to do with myself. So my mom was like, I need to find her a hobby. She put me in soccer, dance and sports; nothing really worked. Until my kindergarten teacher said, you should put her in musical theatre. She put me in musical theatre. I immediately came out of my shell. I put all my time in it and started developing my passion and love for it. Until it became into an actual career. I really enjoy it; I love singing from the beginning. Acting and singing have also work together. When you sing you also have to act. I started loving them at the same time and played small roles in movies and tv-shows. Then I moved to Broadway when I was nine years old and did two Broadway shows.
I love how to express myself through theatre. If it’s singing or inspire people and bringing a character alive. I love playing new characters, like Frenchy from Grease. She is such a fun character to play and to inspire people with my voice. When I was five years old, I knew that this is what I wanted to do.
What inspired you to do what you are doing know?
Whenever I was younger my mom was into music, she loved it and my dad as well. He loves musical theatre. They’ve put me in that when I was young. I listened to a lot of different types of music, like Aretha Franklin. That made me a well-rounded musician and that was very helpful to me. I love Sarah Brightman and Meryl Streep as an actress. I always love how they brought their talent alive and I was inspired by that.
Madison worked as a kid on the Broadway musical, On Your Feet. A musical about the life of Gloria Estefan. She was the youngest one from the cast and fulfilled the role young Gloria. She also worked on the Broadway musical, School of Rock.
How was it to play in On Your Feet?
That was so fun. I loved being young Gloria. In total there were four kids who played that role, including me. I was the youngest one. It matured me a lot quicker. I learned how to be a professional and how to take directions; what adults learn when you have a normal job. I learned how to dance; I was not a dancer at all. Because it was On Your Feet and the music from Gloria Estefan, I learned a lot of dances. So, at a party I’m really good at dancing :). It introduced me to Broadway and you wouldn’t think it, but that can be a very small world.
I met gloria Estefan, she casted me. The first time I saw the show after I was cast; before the show started the stage manager brought me behind the stage. Then Gloria and Emilio popped out and told me that I was going to be the young Gloria. It was such a special moment for me. I loved Gloria Estefan, I listened to her music growing up. To be in the same room as her and that she picked me and know who I was. It was an amazing experience for me.
What was the difference between the two musicals you worked on?
With School of Rock it was a different work ethic. I was constantly surrounded by kids at my age. There was some drama, but we had so much fun and I loved being a part of the cast. In On Your Feet, I was still learning how to navigate, being an entertainer and how to take criticism. Learning how to write my own autograph at nine years old; I didn’t know how to do that and people were like, sign my playbill :). In School of Rock I wasn’t nervous and I knew how to improvise. On Your Feet was more a learning experience and School of Rock was a more joyful moment. You really learn to appreciate the audience. I think the most people think that being on Broadway is, you are doing the same thing every night. But every night it’s different, it depends on the audience. If the audience is happy, that gives you more energy. Especially in School of Rock, where it is a rock show you constantly shaking your had. So, I loved it.
What was your favorite musical to do?
I would say probably School of Rock, because I was on a longer period of time for that. I was older and it was also the cast; we became a family. Also, at On Your Feet it felt like a big family. But at School of Rock the cast was more like my age and we still kept in touch through the years. So yeah, for me it was School of Rock; but I loved both musical to work on :).
What is your passion with Broadway? What makes that sparkle for you?
I love musical theatre in general. I’m hoping when I’m older to do more roles. Now am I like at an age that I’m not young, but also not old. I’m waiting to get older and play more roles. I have a lot of dream roles that I want to play. I just love musical theatre and able to see the musical fans and the audience enjoying the show. Being a family with the cast, it’s such a fun thing to do.
In april 2023 a new show of Grease was released. Called Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies. It’s about the founding mothers of the first female high school gang, known as the “Pink Ladies”. Madison played a role in the show as the iconic Frenchy. Along played Emma Shannon as Betty Rizzo. The two aren’t yet Pink Ladies in the show, but their siblings are part of the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds gang.
When was the first time you ever saw Grease?
I saw it years ago; my parents showed it to me when I was four years old and I sang the songs in the car. I love the movie so much, being a part of it feels unreal. This is going to sound weird, but I really loved Frenchy. She is sweet to Sandy, very inclusive and with her bubbly energy. The songs ‘You’re the One That I Want’ and ‘Born To Hand Jive’ were always my favorite songs of Grease.
How did you get the role?
My agents send me the audition and I was like, o my gosh I really want to do this. I read the breakdown and thought, this is Grease it’s going to be a big thing. So, I did the audition and I was asked getting back for the callbacks. Then I didn’t hear from it for a while. One day my mom and I were in the car and she said that I have a zoom call with my doctor. We pull over and I was expecting to see my doctor, but then it was my agents, my dad and management. They said I got the role Frenchy. It was a dream come true; that I would play Frenchy Facciano in Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies. She is an iconic character, so I didn’t know what people would think. I was very nervous of that and I didn’t want to copy Didi Conn. I wanted to bring myself in the role and find that balance.
The audition did go well. In the last and final callback I got to see everybody and to meet Annabel Oakes and Alethea Jones. They were so organized with it and they knew exactly what their plan was. A funny fact is that at the red-carpet event for the premiere, Lorna Luft who played a Pink Lady in Grease 2, was also on the event. Didi Conn reached out to Annabel Oakes and she mentioned how she loves me as Frenchy. When I heard that, I thought OMG! Didi loved me as the iconic character.
Frenchy is a fan-favorite, how did it feel to portrait her younger self?
It was on the easier side. I can relate to Frenchy in a lot of ways. I value friendships like Frenchy does. I also have the bubbly personality, she has a lot of questions, she is curious and she wants to know how things work. To play her was amazing. I had to get the voice down. For the auditions we did selftapes, because we were in the time of Covid. They mentioned to not do the Frenchy voice. So, I didn’t do it. At the last and final callback I thought, I’m going to do it. My mom was like don’t do it, but I did it and they loved it. So, I watched the movie like 38 times to get the voice identical. When we filmed the episodes, I was more used to do the voice and it became easier.
Emma Shannon portraits Rizzo. You guys share some scenes together, how did you two develop the relationship between Rizzo and Frenchy?
Definitely the chemistry on set is important. We didn’t have to try hard, in order to get that chemistry. When I met her we became friends very quickly. We didn’t have to try hard to get the chemistry. I vibe with her good and we became friends. I was happy with that and lot of the times its hard. If you don’t have that connection with a person off screen. It is difficult to make that on screen. The two of us being friends and getting close helped a lot. We had night walks, have dinner together, go shopping and have sleepovers. Because we are so great friends it’s so much easier and I loved every second with her on set.
Unfortunately Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies series was canceled. The cast, crew and the fans all hoped for a season 2 and what would maybe have happened. The show has a lot of details and references to the original movie and a big cliffhanger at the end. We all hoped to see more of the cast, new songs and development of relationships between the characters.
What was it like being on set?
We had long film days; it took a while to film. The cast is so sweet, they were supportive and I loved being around them. The sets were amazing. My favorite time was getting into costume and fittings. The vintage outfits what people actually wore in that time. Trying different things with my hair and see everything came alive on set.
Grease: Rises of the Pink Ladies became very popular. Did you expect that this show became loved by the fans?
I definitely knew that people were going to like it. It could be both ways, I know people wanted to keep the original Grease style and other people more to the time. People were interested in how this was going to be. It was so smart that they talk about modern problems in the show. People had those issues also back then, but they didn’t talk about it. They bring it to light in the show and that people had those thoughts and those issues. We only had a Grease one and two; people were curious what happened before. How did the Pink Ladies meet? Who were the T-birds before? You are tapping in those moments and how Frenchy and Rizzo became friends.
What would you have liked to see in season 2?
I would have liked to see an expand of Frenchy and Janes relationship. I would like to have to see their own relationship. I know Frenchy looks up to Jane as a sister. Jane is going through a lot and Frenchy wants to be like her. In the last episode Frenchy and Rizzo were also looking for their own gang, so I would have loved to see more of that. Of course, the cliffhanger at the end; people were so excited about that and what would have happened in season 2. obviously more songs and I hoped to sing a song.
Madison is a singer-songwriter and writes her own songs; like the songs “In The Meadow” and “Finding Wonderland”. Madison also covers songs from other artists, like the song “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” in which she uses a mix of Spanish and English.
How did you start your singer-songwriter career?
I’ve always loved music. For a while it was just musical theatre, but then I want to move into the pop-ballad music. My producer said that we should work on things and we started doing that. I still currently write my own music. I’m very perfectionistic, if I don’t like it I’m not going to release it. I want it to be perfect. A song is like to put all your feelings on paper for everyone. So, it took me a while to get comfortable with that. I was able to do it with other people songs, because it wasn’t my feelings. I’m still working on it, but writing music and listening to other artists helped me a lot. Many people can relate to so many different things. For me being able to write music and knowing that people who can relate to it, makes me more comfortable in that whole area. I love being able to listen to a song that is actually how I’m feeling and I want people feel the same way with my own music. I have a songbook with songs that are finished and unfinished; I hope that those songs can be released soon.
What gets you inspired to write your own songs?
In certain situations, in life and how I feel gets me inspired. A lot of the time keeping a friendship was difficult for me. I always was coming back and forth to it and people wouldn’t understand why I was doing what I do. So, for me it was a little hard to keep friendships for a while. I was just writing things on paper and writing poetry. Then I thought I could make a song out of this. So that was really helpful.
Do your songs have a meaning or a message?
For my upcoming songs it’s definitely more around boys, hahaha. Yeah, I’m a teenager; I’m going to have issues and have those certain feelings. Sometimes it doesn’t work out with someone and I put that on paper as well. So I write songs about that. Being able to write that and people can relate to that is nice. You can listen to the song and that is actually how I’m feeling. Sometimes my songs are related about overwhelmingness and about boys and friends. It depends on how I’m feeling. It takes a while to write, because I want to make it perfect.
What are your plans for the future?
I never have released a song yet that is fully mine. That’s what I’m planning to do next. I’m excited were that is gonna go. I’m still working on it. It’s based on a boy that I was crushing on. I wrote all those feelings, put them on paper and wrote a song about it. That was one of the first songs that I was confident about to put out there in the future. So that one has to come out yet. There is coming a song out that is very special to me. I’ve been involved in a couple readings for Broadway shows, that is going to be really fun. I’m going into junior year; I’m focusing on school and writing music. Hopefully I can always do more tv shows and other roles for movies or Broadway musicals in my life.
What is your advice for others?
My biggest advice would be, learn from an early time to take criticisms. Learn to take directions; I know that is a big thing in the entrainment business. Taking directions make it so much easier for directors and producers. To call you as a character, because it’s important for an actor being able to maneuver themselves. What a director wants and put their own into it. Don’t get offended by it. It can be a hard business sometimes; you constantly getting no after no. Then you get a yes and you can learn from that. I don’t think many people see the behind the scenes of an actor or actress life. There is a lot of work that goes into it. From studying the character and remember the lines. They see the changes and other people don’t see the changes a lot. They see the final product and think it’s amazing, but behind that there is a lot of work. Finally, love what you do and put all your passion into it. Don’t let it stop you!
The new songs of Madison can be released anytime soon. If you want to know more of Madison, visit her website: https://www.madisonlagares.com. I want to thank Madison for doing this inspiring interview!
Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies is no longer available to watch on Paramount +. There is a campaign to save Rise of the Pink Ladies. If you want to help and show your support go to the Instagram page of @saveourpinks: https://www.instagram.com/saveourpinks/.
For our Dutch readers. You still can stream Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies on SkyShowtime. I got to be honest, the show is amazing. Madison and the rest of the cast made history! Watch the show on: https://www.skyshowtime.com/nl/its-time-for/grease-rise-of-the-pink-ladies