Tell me a little about your character (or what it is like to play multiple characters).
Jo is an aspiring actress who has idolized Mae West’s “tough girl” persona and successful career since high school. As an office temp in New York – unmarried, in a job without benefits – Jo escapes into her obsession, but ultimately is able to share her passion with the only person she can truly be herself with, Charlie.
I’ve always struggled with playing characters “like myself.” Playing an actress with an office job, who’s not married, or thin, or tall – it was hard at first to feel like I had to do anything other than show up! But I have learned a lot about Jo through this process, what she is hiding from and how she lets her relationship with Charlie break down those walls, and I love getting to “be” her.
What do you hope the audience will take away from this play?
These characters overcome fears, stereotypes, and their own perceptions of “normal” to discover extraordinary strength within themselves. I hope the audience feels encouraged to grab onto that thing they love, to share it with the world and know that others are there to support their dreams and goals.
What do you think of Mae West, has anything surprised you about her?
What I first fell in love with, after reading Dirty Blonde, was the attention to detail to the actual historical timeline of Mae’s life. I really enjoy getting to see her “offstage” temper, ambition, and foibles that do not appear in her films. Getting to see her progression from flapper-style to Diamond Lil’ and beyond, and how so much of the “real Mae” was written into her movies, I felt very connected to Mae West as a person, not just a persona.
How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
This show spans so many years, through a series of vignettes between Mae West’s career and my character’s timeline in the eighties. Although the only character Jo really interacts with is Charlie, I have learned something new each time seeing the other scenes play out. Playing with only one other actor is a rare opportunity to concentrate on their arc and the way our relationship grows.
How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre?
I grew up singing along to Julie Andrews, Linda Rondstadt and Patsy Cline, and preferred being onstage to playing outside. I now have a Masters in Acting from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training, and a BFA in Musical Theatre from Niagara University. Theater has always been a huge part of my life – each show a different chapter with great people, stories, and lessons.
What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre?
Classes! Taking classes is a great way to feel comfortable with auditions and improv, and it offers a great sounding board for honing your skills and learning new things. Oftentimes, you connect with fellow classmates or teachers who become life-long connections and mentors. In fact, LTA offers classes…