Tara MacriEXPAND
Tara Macri
Lindsey Drennan

Kung-Fu and Hairspray: The Rise of Tara Macri

There’s simply no way that Tara Macri isn’t going to break big. The rising pop sensation, actress, voice-over artist and Broadway performer simply won’t allow it. With her drive and tenacity pulling her forward, Macri has decided that this is her time. She simply has to embrace the fact while, of course, working her butt off.

How she gets there, her vehicle to the big time, that’s not quite clear yet. What she’ll do in the meantime is work, and work, and work. Macri played spoiled rich girl Amber Von Tussle on Broadway and in the national touring company in John Waters’ Hairspray, later reprising the role at the Hollywood Bowl. She also starred in First Wives Club and Jersey Boys, and voiced Young Tigress in the Kung Fu Panda movie Secrets of the Scroll alongside Dustin Hoffman and Jack Black. That’s two successful careers then. And with her recent singles “Prettiest Girl in the Room” and “Meet Me on Mars” earning her glowing reviews, and masses of new fans, you can make that three.

It all started, Macri says, when she was 2 years old, driving her family crazy by running around the kitchen table making up songs. Her grandfather taught her to play piano, which led to her writing music at an early age.

“I begged my parents to let me do auditions,” she says. “They were really reluctant — they’re not really stage parents. They didn’t really understand all of it, but they saw that I was really into it, so they took me to see how I would progress. I started going to auditions, and shows, and then eventually I would do a lot of theater and voice-over work. I would write songs and record on my only day off. So I was kind of doing it all at the same time. Maybe 14 or 15 was when I did my first professional show. I feel like it was a Canadian Anne of Green Gables. A Canadian production.”

Influenced early on by the music her dad was playing at home (The Beatles, Elton John, Michael Jackson), Macri describes her pop sound as “not as hard at Pink and not as soft as Colbie Caillat.” It’s definitely pop, though Macri is no manufactured puppet. Songwriting is an integral part of what makes this artist who she is.

“You write so many songs and you go into the studio, and whatever’s happening that day is usually what comes out,” she says. “It’s whatever experiences I’m going through at that time, and yeah, that’s what happens.”

Macri says there is an album in the works, though that will come some way down the line. For now, she's focusing on releasing singles, enhancing her name, generating excitement and continuing to build momentum.

“We’ve been putting out singles, but there’s a lot of material,” she says. “The acoustic version of ‘Meet Me on Mars’ came out July 13, and then we have another single coming out in September that I’m really excited about.”

She should be excited. L.A. is a tough town to break, but she appears to be well on her way. She loves her home and enjoys its idiosyncrasies.

“I love how many creative people are in L.A., and how many amazingly talented people are in L.A.,” she says. “That is so exciting. I love the weather. Everybody always complains about the driving, but I feel like I get a lot of writing done when I’m driving. For some reason, that’s when a lot of songs come to me. I love all those things about it.”

The creative community is a big draw, and Macri says that, as a musician in L.A., she feels like she’s a part of something much bigger.

“It’s also so big,” Macri says. “Like, L.A. is huge. I feel like there are still parts of L.A. that I’ve never been to. Like, how did I not know about this part? Cool venues that you play, and other ones popping up that you find out about. I love that. It’s very artist-friendly.”

One of those clubs that she rates highly is the Peppermint Club, where she’ll be performing this week. Different versions of those recent singles will be pulled out, and there’ll be some surprises.

“We’re definitely going to do ‘Meet Me on Mars.’ We’ll be doing a different version — there’s a dance version, out right now. We’ve done a stripped-down acoustic version that I’m super excited about. I’ll be doing that with my full band. We’ll also be doing some unreleased songs that will be coming out in September. I’ll be doing 'Prettiest Girl in the Room,' which I released a couple of years ago and which got a lot of airplay. I’ll also have my full band, which is nice because sometimes it’s just me and a guitar, me and a piano. For the Peppermint show we’ll have everyone, so it’s like a reunion. I’m going to do a Michael Jackson cover as well.”

After that, Macri will of course keep working. She’s had a taste of success and she wants more. And she’ll keep acting, too.

“You’re being creative in different ways when you’re doing either a voice for something, or you’re in the studio, creating a new song, onstage,” she says. “It’s all feeding that creative vibe.”

Tara Macri plays with Zach Zimmerman, Simone and Queeny King at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 18, at the Peppermint Club.

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