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BACKSTAGE PASS: Nana Goodman is Eponine's biggest fan

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  • | 5:00 a.m. March 6, 2013
  • Arts + Entertainment
  • Performing Art
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When seasonal Sarasotan Ruth Goodman used to describe her grandaughter Briana Carlson-Goodman’s musical talent to her friends, she’d tell them, “She really has something special — and not because she’s my granddaughter.”

“But I don’t have to say that anymore!” Goodman laughs.

The tagline is no longer necessary because 28-year-old Carlson-Goodman is playing Eponine in the U.S. tour of Cameron Mackintosh’s production of “Les Miserables,” which arrived March 5, to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

The spirited 92-year-old Goodman plans to take some of the cast members to lunch. She met a few of them this past holiday season when the touring company performed in Washington, D.C. Carlson-Goodman and her husband rented a big house for both sides of the family to stay in and see the production as a family. It was then that “Nana Goodman” found out her granddaughter would also be coming to Sarasota to perform.

“I’ve been on a high since!” she says.

Goodman has house seats to the Sarasota leg of the tour, making it the fourth time she’s seen her granddaughter in “Les Mis.” She saw three or four productions of “Hair” when Carlson-Goodman played part of the tribe, including one performance in which her granddaughter came out into the audience and sat on Goodman’s lap. From April through December, Goodman lives within walking distance of Grand Central Station, in New York City. It’s easy to see her granddaughter there. Goodman only attends musical theater if her granddaughter is in the performance.

And when Goodman is not at the performances, she scours the Internet for reviews.

“One review said people should just skip the first act and come to the second act just to hear her sing,” Goodman says. “Every time I get something like that, I just cry.”

Goodman becomes emotional when speaking about her “little princess,” a name she started using for Carlson-Goodman when she was a little girl. Goodman used to sew her fancy skirts, and Carlson-Goodman would dance around in them like a “little princess.”

Goodman would dance the same way in front her six brothers and sisters when she was a little girl. Carlson-Goodman and her mother, Corinne Goodman, who runs a community theater program called Brooklyn Players, are the only two professionals in the family.

Goodman remembers her granddaughter was always singing at summer camps and going to dance classes. The most significant memory of her granddaughter singing was at the funeral for Goodman’s husband, Lester, 10 years ago.

“People told me she sings like an angel,” Goodman says.

But, the moment Goodman understood her granddaughter was more than a hobby singer was when she saw her star as Sandy in Emerson College’s 2006 production of “Grease.” It was her granddaughter’s senior year in the theater program.

“I flipped!” she says. “I woke up.”

‘Les Miserables’
When: 8 p.m. March 7; runs through March 10
Where: Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail
Cost: Tickets $60 to $80
Info: Call 953-3368


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