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Dancing on Nails

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Lori Wilner
July 10, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Actor.

What is your show about?
He’s Jewish and she’s Black. He’s 50 and she’s 20. And it’s 1953. The new comedy DANCING ON NAILS explores the challenging relationship between a lonely middle-aged shopkeeper and his young African-American employee in 1950s Greenwich Village.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I love doing shows with strong characters that do things I would never have the balls to do! Strong women, funny women, courageous women. I also adore doing musicals, because the structure of a musical is like an ocean wave that carries you along. Sometimes a straight play is so totally actor driven, that it's nice to feel the collaboration with the orchestra and the momentum that offers.

What are some of your previous theater credits? (Be specific! Name shows, etc.)
I starred opposite Harvey Fierstein in the most recent Broadway revival of Fiddler. All three creators were alive then and the whole experience was thrilling. I played Mrs. Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank. It was Natalie Portman's broadway debut, and an amazing cast. A real highlight for me. I worked on Bart Sher's Awake and Sing!, original musicals A Catered Affair, People in the Picture, Those Were the Days, the recent On a Clear Day You can See Forever - all wonderful shows in their own ways. I recently played Frau Schneider in the Sam Mendes production of Cabaret out in Northport, which was a real favorite of mine. And so many Off Broadway and regional productions that are too numerous to mention! I've done some beautiful shows. Perhaps I have a special place in my heart for a one-woman show that I co-created and played all over the world. It was called Hannah Senesh, and I was nominated for a Drama Desk and won a DramaLogue and Goldy Award for that performance. And I got my Hirschfeld for that show. A real NY Theater honor!

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I was drawn to the play. It addresses issues of tolerance, of how the dreams one has in life collide with reality and how you must navigate that. Also, I think Paul Manuel Kane has a lovely ear for dialogue and captured something very unique in the world of these people.

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
all of the above

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Absolutely. First of all, people are having less experiences that actually happen in real time. That's why I love DOING theater. You can't pause it and take a phone call, make a sandwich and come back to it 4 hours later. It starts together - audience and actors, and moves along into the thick of it, and you all go through the experience together and arrive at the inevitable conclusion together. It demands being in the present - a rarer and rare commodity. Plus - seeing characters go through experiences is a very safe way as an audience member to reflect and think about hard questions that might be too scary to think about without having an external template on which to work them out. Theater = ideas= change. Yes!