nytheatre.com q&a preview by Jake Lipman
September 3, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Producer, director and actor (playing the narrator role of 'The Stage Manager' in OUR TOWN).
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I saw the musical ANNIE when I was 5 years old, and I wanted to *be* Annie, onstage, belting on top of tables, cartwheeling with the other scrappy orphans, and overcoming the obstacles of her world. A lot of the characters I've played since (the title role in THE LITTLE PRINCE, Catherine in PROOF) have had a scrappiness, chutzpah. With my production company, Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions (www.tictheater.com), I produce thought-provoking comedies, so that combination of heart and sassiness is a throughline in my work.
Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
Theater is all about the audience, especially with comedies. The audience's laugh is a built-in barometer for the production. Every night is surprising and shape-shifting because of the audience. And I love when things go wrong! Happy accidents bond the audience with the actors, and everyone has this collective feeling of being a part of what happened (be it a dropped pair of pants or a dropped line).
How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
I met composer and choral director Philip Rothman on match.com in 2002. He's my husband! He is incredibly talented and supportive and I like to say "the best sound designer money can't buy" because he's at another level than I could have ever hoped to find for my shows, and he does it all in exchange for my doing the dishes. I'm also fortunate to have worked with my assistant director Allison Lemel on over nine productions now. We met three years ago when I put a call out for stage managers on Playbill and she has been an amazing collaborator; thoughtful, hardworking and very funny. I'm also thrilled to have cast OUR TOWN with 5 actors with whom I've worked before: Shelley Little and A.J. Heekin were in THE DRUNKEN CITY, Brady Adair in DEAD WHITE MALES, and all 3 of them plus Stephanie Pezolano and Michael Edmund were in Season 1 of my web series, www.SmartActressTheSeries.com (nominated for a 2012 LA Web Fest award). When you're casting an entire town (18 actors!), it's great to have such talented friends who want to work with you again.
Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Smart! Thornton Wilder was so far ahead of his time with the comedy in OUR TOWN. He has characters asking questions from the audience, playing multiple roles, and with a sly undercurrent of irony and wit. He deservedly won the Pulitzer Prize for OUR TOWN. We should all be so smart.
Who are your heroes?
Nora Ephron. Her voice was so wry and warm and New York. All things Carol Burnett. Tina Fey, another wunderkind. I love the hyphenated talents of the world: writers-producers-performers-mothers-bakers. I am not sure that she bakes, but I fantasize that she'll come over and bake with me. And so much of my creative happiness in New York can be traced back to Matt Hoverman, who teaches people to create solo shows. He's a brilliant playwright, director and actor in addition to a sort of midwife to people's creative growth.