When I think back to shows that I watched during my youth, The Mickey Mouse Club that aired in the 90’s almost immediately comes to mind. I remember coming home from school, and being glued to the TV screen when this show was on.
You hear about Justin, Christina, Ryan, and Britney, etc… being on The Mickey Mouse Club, but I can tell you that everyone who was on that show was incredibly talented. One of my favorite people on the show was Lindsey Allen, and I feel so fortunate that I had a chance to interview her. We talked about her time on the show, her one woman shows, and her web series. She is a very warm and funny person, and I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with her. So, without further ado, here’s my interview with her.
MC: So, I know this is the 25th anniversary of The All New Mickey Mouse Club. Can you believe it’s been 25 years since it first aired?
LA: No, and every time you say that I feel another grey hair coming on my head…I feel another wrinkle form on my face. Holy cr*p. Is that true?
MC: I can’t believe it. Just think, a lot of people who watched the show also have grey hairs.
LA. Thank God we’re all in it together…we’re all aging together.
MC: We’re all in the same club. At least you’re not alone, which is good. *laughs* Do you think the show would work in today’s time with Facebook and iPhones or do you think there was something about that time period that was special?
LA: I’m not sure that show would work now. I’m not sure the concept would be edgy enough for what kids at that age are used to experiencing. I feel like it was airing at a much gentler time. I think today’s youth might find it a little campy whereas our generation it was a show with heart. I think the show was really sweet…it was fun and fresh. I feel like the latest crop of kids might find it a little for lack of a better word, cheesy. What do you think?
MC: I think so. I can’t imagine them all sitting in the audience and laughing at the skits. I think it was a time that was special.
LA: I couldn’t agree with you more. I think it came along at just the right moment. I think about what kids watch now.
MC: Like Game of Thrones. I can’t imagine the Mickey Mouse Club capturing their attention that much.
LA. Exactly. I wish there was some version of it now. I’m sure it would be quite different. It would be neat to see what the changes would be. Would they include sketches about Facebook and Twitter and special episodes on bullying? Would there be an openly Gay kid on the show?
MC: If it was to have all of those changes, do you think it would work?
LA: I think the concept of kids entertaining kids still works and even a kid’s variety show still works. I think it would have to be revamped…it would have to be edgier. I think kids would demand it…they’re exposed to more now than they were back then.
MC: I know that you along with two other cast members were there from the beginning. How did you decide to audition for the show?
LA: I knew the casting director, Matt Casella, because I had auditioned for him for a musical version of the film “Paper Moon” that I actually ended up doing here in LA. I met Matt [in the] early days and he actually suggested that I audition for the Mouse Club. They were holding auditions in Orlando, and after school one day my mother drove me over to the first audition. It was literally right after school. We were living in Lakeland…I grew up in Lakeland, Florida, which was about 45 minutes down the road. We went over and there was a giant line of kids to be seen and my mother looked at me and said “We’re not staying…it’s a school night…this is ridiculous.”
I remember being this very ambitious 8-year-old. I was pretty ambitious to say to my mother who was working as a nurse at the time…she had a full-time job and she had two kids in tow…I basically said “No, we came all the way over here. We’re not leaving this audition. I want to go in and sing my song.” And sure enough, I finally got my chance to go in. This is one of the savviest things I’ve ever done. I auditioned with a Barry Manilow song called “One Voice,” and I had a tape of the lady in my Church doing the accompaniment for me. I had the wherewithal to fast forward the tape to the end of the song from like the bridge to the end so I could hit the big money note in the song at the end. If it were me now I would be too scared to do anything like that. But being the fearless 8 or 9-year-old that I was I was ready for that job.
MC: You can’t tell me mom what to do, I got this.
LA: Exactly. Mom, I got this. Everyone calm down. I got Barry Manilow on my side, and I could kick ass. That audition turned into 4 callbacks, so there were 5 auditions in total and I just kept getting called back. And then it came down to a handful of us, and then I got the call that I was one of the first 10.
MC: I gotta say that you were one of my all time favorites on the show. I would always get excited when I saw you. It was a very wise choice that they made in picking you. If they didn’t pick you and I found out I would’ve maybe said something about it now. *laughs* You were a breath of fresh air on the show. I think your personality and the way you went through the sketches was engaging.
LA: God knows I had a great time. People always want the dirt in interviews and I have to say it was such a precious time. I think how weird it would be now if that wasn’t a part of my life. It has fully shaped who I am as a 36-year-old woman.
MC: How has it impacted the person you are today?
LA: In the beginning we all kind of went through that “I don’t know if I want to put it on my resume and tell people about it because it’s Disney and cheesy and a kid’s TV show. I’m ready to be an adult now.” And then all of these kids started blowing up. It was never anything that anyone was ashamed of. It was a thing where we wanted to transition from kid actors into adult actors and we felt it would be easier to do that if we left our Disney images behind. But then Britney, then Justin, then Christina, then Kerri… and the list goes on. Suddenly, you’re in this very elite group of kids. Everybody came of out of this one show and there’s something very unique and special about that.
Even at cocktail parties it’s like the one thing people still want to talk about. It always comes up. Very recently I was somewhere where there was a girl who was “far too cool for the school.” She didn’t really have anything to say to me. It was a bit awkward and uncomfortable. And suddenly, someone said “Lindsey was on this show” and then it was like “OMG. I can’t wait to be your best friend.” It was very flattering to me that she had some major respect and wanted to give me props for the fact that I was a part of this thing. What I’m trying to say is it’s great at cocktail parties. *laughs* I’m always a hit.
MC: In one of your one woman shows that I was watching a clip of you said “it’s the credit that just won’t die.” It’s with you forever, I guess.
LA: I’ve built an entire one woman show…an entire cabaret career on this. It’s a lot of self deprecating and a lot of making fun of this thing that I used to be. Really what I’m saying in all of those jokes is “How f***** cool that I got to do this.”
MC: I wish I could’ve gone on a show like that. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, I think.
LA: That’s right. It was also kind of the reason I got into College. I’m not saying that I couldn’t have gotten in based on my grades. It kind of plays a part in every audition that I go to. People will look at my resume and it’s always a conversation. It was a really big part of a lot of people’s childhoods. I really owe it to Matt Casella for taking a chance on a little girl from Lakeland, Florida.
MC: What was a typical day like for everyone?
LA: It was not a typical childhood. It was a full-time job. We would start at 9 in the morning and we would go to school for 3 hours, so 9 to 12, and then we’d have a lunch break. And then we’d usually rehearse from 1 to 6:30 on weeks we were rehearsing or we would go shoot remote sketches for the weeks that we were taping. We would shoot during that late afternoon, early evening time.
The crew was incredible. We had an amazing group of writers and producers. The crew and the executives really had our best interests in mind. They all really loved us, the kids. It was so sweet. I’ve seen so many of the cast and crew members over the years and everyone feels the same way about the show, which was this very unique moment in time…very special group of people. There’s so much heart in it. None of us look back and go “God what an awful, painful experience that was.” Everyone really felt special and proud to be a part of it.
MC: One of my favorite sketches that you were in was “Date Interrupted.” Do you have a favorite sketch that you were in?
LA: I sort of loved the Party Girls with Rhona. That was so fun. As far as early sketch days, I loved this character named Wendy Wallow. It’s kind of a pathetic little character who was always losing her job. She was always starting some job that was horrible and hideous and something bad would happen to her. I loved Spike, who was this obnoxious kid who screamed nursery rhymes. We had a really awesome group of writers, and collectively over the years it was an awesome group.
MC: I loved the show so much that on eBay I looked for the VHS tapes years later and I got season 7. There was a bidding war and I went crazy for it. If you ever want to see the VHS tapes, I have it. *laughs*
LA: The funny thing is my husband has never seen a full episode. He’s maybe seen like a clip here and there. He grew up in the UK and they didn’t really have Disney over there.
MC: I was so sad when the show ended. I would sit every afternoon with these group of people and suddenly what was I going to do now? What was your reaction when you found out it was ending?
LA: Because I had been on the show for so long and it was such a huge part of my childhood…I certainly can’t speak for Jennifer and Josh, but I think they would probably say the same thing which was by the time it came to and end we were ready for it because we had done 6 years of it. I was eager to have a moment of “normal” childhood experiences. At that point it was still a struggle to make it to homecoming dances and be involved in pep rallies and stuff in school. While I can look and say The Mouse Club was super unique and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I do remember having that feeling of like “Ok. Now I’m ready to be the vice president of the Honor Society” or something really geeky in school.
When I found out it was ending it was bitter sweet, but more sweet than bitter. I was ready for that time that I had kind of missed. I got to have my Sophomore, Junior, and Senior year in high school and that was pretty great. It was nice to be able to go to prom and be involved in my high school and turn around after this very sort of busy working childhood to have a moment that’s this other normal thing.
MC: Do you still keep in touch with a lot of people from the show?
LA: I do. Kerri and Ilana are my two dearest girlfriends to this day….two amazing close friends. As far as here in LA, I see Dale quite often. I see Josh…I talk to Josh pretty regularly, and then Mark and Mylin and Deedee. I just saw Tasha recently and Rhona. I actually work with a lot of the former producers and writers and executives from the show. Barbara Epstein…who was actually one of the very first musical directors on the show…she basically has helped me shape and direct my one woman show that I do now. These are people who I met during that period who are still so much a part of my life now.
MC: And what about the “bigger stars”? Do they stay in touch with people? Like Justin.
LA: I’m not in touch with Justin, Christina, and Britney. It’s not because we don’t want to be in touch. When they joined the show it was already kind of an established group of 16-year-old kids. And then you bring these 12-year-old kids in. I don’t know many 16-year-olds who are hanging out with 12-year-olds. It was enough of an age gap for us to go “Oh look at those cute, talented kids.” But it wasn’t like I was BFFs with Britney, Justin, and Christina because of the age difference.
I ran into Justin at a restaurant in LA a couple of years ago, and it was really fun to see him. We bump into each other like you bump into people you went to high school with.
I will say that there was nobody on that show who was an a**hole. Everyone was really great. Everyone brought their own thing to the table. There wasn’t this creepy competitive thing going on. There was room for everyone and it was really nice.
MC: I’m glad you had said there was no competitiveness because that would’ve made me really sad.
LA: I think the only thing I probably felt in the way of jealousy at one point was I was never like the “pretty” one. I was always sort like of the waka waka girl who would do the sketch comedy stuff. In those awkward 12, 13, 14-year old years where you’re feeling insecure about you know God I don’t have any boobs…I’ve got braces. And you turn around and look at the likes of Keri, Mylin, Deedee, Tiffany, and Brandy…there was one point where I felt “Oh gosh. I’m not as hot or as cool as they are.” They were like my big sisters and no one ever made me feel less than or bad. Everybody was very inclusive and supportive.
MC: You were very real. I could relate to you because I wasn’t the “prettiest” one.
LA: I had braces on the show and the executives in the beginning weren’t happy about it. When my parents said to the executives “Lindsey is going to get braces” they made a big deal about it. When I got the braces I got so much mail that year from kids who were just like “OMG. I’m so happy you have braces, too. I feel so much better.”
MC: There was probably someone on the show that everyone could relate to. When you’re growing up in that awkward time it’s nice to say “Hey, they have that, too.”
And when I was looking up clips about you, I saw your “On the patio” web series…it was haha-larious. Your mom is a treat to watch. Was she always like that growing up?
LA: She’s a riot. I don’t write any of those. We just literally riff on camera. She’s that funny…that quick….she’s wonderful. I always joke that the show started as a vehicle for me but it’s made my mother a star.
MC: How did you come up with the concept for the show?
LA: I didn’t come up with it. A really wonderful director/writer/editor himself … his name is Matt Wiatt, and he has a production company in Lakeland…my hometown. We were brainstorming about a project we wanted to do together and we came up with this totally separate cooking show concept and we shot an episode of it and it was fun but frankly it was kind of boring. During the shoot that day my mom kept popping in, and we kept having this banter the day we were shooting this show. He said “What if we just do a show called ‘On the Patio’ where you and your mother sit on the patio and talk”? I said “No one is going to watch that.”
It was actually Matt and his colleague Andy McIntyre and these two guys basically convinced me that it would be funny enough that people would be interested in a little web series, and I just didn’t believe them. And then we shot it. It’s really these two guys who I credit for coming up with the concept.
MC: Are you having more episodes?
LA: I think we’re going to put it to bed for a little while. I don’t want to inundate people with “On the Patio”…stop while you’re ahead and leave them wanting more. I have other projects happening and I’m trying to keep a number of irons in the fire.
MC: I saw some of your “Lindsey Alley Show” on YouTube. You are so funny and you have a great singing voice. Can you talk about “Blood, Sweat, and Mouseketeers?”
LA: The Disney thing is definitely the hook for the show. There’s a very small percentage who can say they were a part of it. It’s not the entire show. I’m not sitting there living in the past and retelling tales. It’s more a story of my life…where I was…where I’m going. It’s constantly evolving because I’m constantly changing and my life is constantly changing. It’s my story as a successful kid actor turned struggling adult actress and what that looks like.
Trying to find my version of happily ever after when you’re sort of set up from childhood to have it all. I sort of did have it all…when you’re making a lot of money when you’re 12 and having a lot of success when you’re 12. You just sort of tend to think well this is just the way it is and the way it will always be. I thought finding happily ever after would be simple. It’s an exploration of what that happily ever after actually is. What is success? It just sort of looks at that but with a lot of humor. It almost feels more like stand up comedy with music. It’s got a lot of heart in it, too. There’s very touching moments in the show.
MC: I know that you’ve been in theater, films, and on TV. What do you want to do that you haven’t done?
LA: I’d really like to get back into television. There’s so much good television right now…so many wonderful actors. It’s never really been film for me. I’d love to be on a sitcom. I’d love to do television again. I think the exposure from television makes it so much easier to go back to NY and do Broadway, which seems like kind of the direction people go in. It used to be the other way around. I just want it all. I want to have my own show that I can do anywhere at the drop of a hat, I’d love to be a force in the television world, and I’d love to do plenty of live theater. Plus my web series and throw in a couple of commercials..I’m in for all of it.
MC: What would you like to say to your fans?
LA: I feel so lucky and so supported and I’m really really really grateful that people have taken an interest all these years and have continued to tune in and show up at shows. It’s so nice. There are so many people who will never get to feel that kind of gratitude I feel right now. It’s such an honor and I’m very very very grateful to everyone who continues to not say “Lindsey who?” A big massive giant thank you is what I would say. Thanks for continuing to believe in me and for supporting me and dropping emails and saying “when is the next ‘on the patio’ coming out?”
And with that our wonderful interview came to an end. Lindsey was so easy to talk to, and I was honored to talk to someone who was on a show that I can’t say enough great things about. If I could find the other 6 years of the show on VHS on eBay I’d be so happy. *smile*