“I worked on it for two years and then … fell to the wayside,” she said. “My ego was bruised and I did feel like I was kicked in the gut a little bit. That’s because I didn’t really know the business part of show business.”
She ended up playing Elphaba again in 2005, when she led the show’s first national tour (on which she met her future husband, the actor Sebastian Arcelus), and eventually did it on Broadway two years later.
Since then Ms. Block has climbed up the food chain, yet she’s not always mentioned among the reigning divas — except, of course, by her fans, the Blockheads — perhaps because she is more of an old-school entertainer who prefers to let a character take over rather than show off her own personality.
“The diva [term] to me is perhaps given to musical-theater performers, especially female ones, who do have that big body voice and can just stand onstage and own it,” Ms. Block said. “And if that’s what the definition is, I love it. But if I am playing a role, I’d much rather the audience forget that I’m Stephanie. My husband likes to call me the Gary Oldman of musical theater because I have this way of shapeshifting.”
Even in “I’m Breaking Down,” her epically funny, showstopping number in “Falsettos,” Ms. Block stayed true to the character. “Another actor might have hamboned the whole thing but she was always honest,” said that revival’s director, James Lapine, who had grasped the full extent of the actress’ range when he saw her in the Lynn Nottage play “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” in 2011 — another portrayal of a larger-than-life star, that one fictional. “I hope she gets [more] dramatic roles because that would be an eye-opener for folks. She’s emotionally available, as they like to say,” he said with a laugh.
This openness is evident in the close relationship Ms. Block has forged with the other Chers. Tellingly, she is quick to boast not so much about her own role but about the team spirit that animates the trio. “You have to set aside your ego, you have to set aside your expectations, you have to set aside your personal agenda,” she said animatedly. “You’ve got to look at your fellow sister-actors and say, ‘What is you is me, what is me is you. We’re all in this together.’ ”