When cleaning out my file of Word Documents, I came across this. This was one of those question-answer “getting to know you” quizzes that people pass around the internet among groups of friends, except this one is specific to theatre. Since I am not really a theatre person anymore, I at first deleted the email. But, after reading everyone else’s (I received 10 of them, mostly from people I have never heard of, who have probably never heard of me), I somehow felt compelled to do it. It was actually quite fun, so I thought I’d share.
1. What is your stage name?
Oh give me a break. Even the Equity people I know don’t bother with this unless they have an issue, like their name is something like Avi Kharamakazwicz, or someone else already is using their name, or whatever. As for me, I should go by “Mary Smith” since nobody can spell my real name anyway.
2. At what age did you first appear onstage?
3. What was your first show?
"Hang Loose, Mother Goose," when I was the above-mentioned age. I was the Little Lamb (as in “Mary had a…”). I don’t remember what the show was about, but I had an adorable costume. My mother has pictures. And I do remember sadly remarking to the audience that “Old King Cole won’t be a merry old soul anymore.”
4. Do you prefer comedies, dramas, musicals, or dramadies?
Oh, God, anything with a good script, which usually means dramas...
5. Name your top 5 favorite shows that you've been in
“42nd Street” in 1987. I was mentioned in the paper for just standing around in a bikini with a tassel on my tit. God Bless that Director and Choreographer. I never worked with anyone that good ever again.
“Holy Days” with Mid-American Playwright’s Theatre, a small company that produced shows written by Midwestern playwrights. I’m not sure if they are still in existence, but they were a lot of fun to work with. Some of those shows were just damn good all around.
“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” in 1989. Not the best production, but DAMN did we have fun. I did the dream ballet. Rrrowr.
“Maura’s Wedding” with MAPT in 199-something. Fantastic cast. Insightful director. GREAT script. Yummy costume. And one of the best roles I’ve ever played. I wore a sexy black minidress and swilled champagne throughout the whole show. At the end I staggered up the aisle of the theatre in 4-inch heels with a bridesmaid’s bouquet in my hand trying to look as though I were trying to look sober. And throughout I was wearing this fantastic short-hair wig that made me look like a young Julie Andrews.
“Gianni Schicchi” with New York Opera Forum. I got to sing a high D for my Mom. Puccini makes a gal not need chocolate. Oh man. I can’t wait to do “La Boheme” next year.
6. Name your 3 worst shows that you've been in:
Whoa. I did SO much crap in Illinois.
“Cinderella” in 1989 (90?) Someone broke an arm doing that one. No kidding.
“Murder on the Nile,” around the same time period. We called it “Slumber in the Aisles.” The director was very gifted, but I was surrounded by horrible - HORRIBLE actors. Given that I was 17, I probably wasn’t much better, but I had the best role in the show, dammit, and the reviewer liked me. Which means I probably was awful. I did get to shoot someone in the knee onstage though, which provided an opportunity for the worst bungled special effects ever.
“Eye of the Bewildered” with MAPT in 1991 or 92. Title says it all.
7. Name 3 roles that you've never played, but want to:
Just 3? I’ll start with Lady MacBeth from That Scottish show, Elena in “Uncle Vanya,” and Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.” I also have always wanted to do Evita. I know the whole damn show. Also Harper from “Angels in America” and Hedda Gabler would be a blast.
8. Do you have any rituals before you go on stage?
For two years, before every performance of the Nutcracker (I did 5 years hard time with that Ballet Company) I would rip off those fucking false eyelashes off my eyelids 2 seconds before I went onstage, then claim that they had “fallen off” during the show. I was twelve for God's sake, and they itched like hell. After the 2nd year I claimed to be allergic to the glue, and that dumbass makeup lady with the ghetto-fabulous nails and the vacuous personality believed me. (Hey, with all the itching, it could have been true.) After that my ritual was eating candy in front of the snobby anorexic rich-west-sider ballerina girls. It was all I could do to get even with them for hiding my underwear and putting pins in my toe shoes. Bitches. Fucking bitches.
9. What is the worst show that you've ever seen?
I saw a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” at Muni that was so bad, I would have left at Intermission if my Mom hadn’t dragged me to it because several of our friends were in it. Mom apologized to me. She knew it sucked. The worst part was that after the show, I waited out front while my Mom went backstage and greeted her friends. I knew I’d have to bullshit people if I went back there NOBODY'S that good an actor. Unfortunately, once the performers found out I was in town, they came out front to see me after the show. I couldn’t escape. “So, how did you like it?” they asked, hope gleaming in their eyes. “It was great,” I lied.
Oh yeah - There was a Muni production of “Kiss Me Kate” in 1996 or ’97 that I brought my best friend from New York home to see. This girl is a professional actress from Korea with National Award Nominations and a recent Actor’s Studio MFA diploma. I wanted to slide under my chair in embarrassment. She stared at the stage in bewilderment. “THIS how you start!?” she asked me (she’s Korean). “Is so sad…”
10. What, or who made you get into theater?
Oh, I was doomed from birth. My Mom has a Master’s degree in it. My Dad is a musician. My Grandmother was a dancer, my grandpa a Ragtime Bandleader, my great-grandmother sang opera. You get the picture.
11. If you are a musical person, who is your favorite composer/lyricist?
I suppose I’ll always be a Sondheim fanatic, but I also appreciate Maltby and Shire - music and lyrics. Alan Menken does very emotionally manipulative clever music as well. Frank Wildhorn should trip in traffic, and sorry, Elton John just bores me.
12. Who is your favorite playwright?
I can’t pick just one. Anton Chekhov, John Patrick Shanley, Shakespeare, Neil Simon, Tennessee Williams, Wendy Wasserstein (showing my age here), Eugene O’Neill, Samuel Beckett.
13. Name your most embarrassing stage moment (falls, slipping of lines, etc.)
Hm. Probably slipping on the stage fog and falling on my butt during the Nutcracker. And yes, I was the first one onstage, so it was nice and visible, but I got up so quickly the audience thought it was a step. Of course the company girls made fun of me. Bitches. Fucking bitches.
14. Which do you prefer...acting or directing?
Acting. I’ve never directed. No WAY would I have the patience. Can’t you just see me? I’d make Martha Stewart seem sweet.
15. Have you ever had sex in the theater?
Wasn’t that the whole reason to get involved in Midwestern community Theatre? I only did once. He was lousy. I did several times in College, but who didn’t? In New York, well… I think we were all kind of over it by then.
16. Do you have a "theater crush" currently?
When I was in Illinois, all my crushes were gay, or in the orchestra pit, which is just as inaccessible. As for my adult life, my fetishes are brains, singing, and Jews, so I have a bizarre obsession with Eugene Levy. Does Opera count? Bryn Terfel. Come and get me baby. If he’s not interested, I’m hot for my buddy Mr. C., although he's married and not Jewish. At least I can succumb to his onstage advances.
17. Have you ever done a show intoxicated? What were the ramifications?
I am shocked and amazed that I have never done this. I must rectify this. Ask me in July how the drunken Zerlina went.
Postscript: I did not get a chance to sing Zerlina drunk. But I will have other chances. Oh yes.