Thursday, January 7, 2016

Grey Gardens - meet cast member Jennifer Strand



What do you find appealing or interesting about your character and this show?
Oh my . . . where to begin?  In Act I, Edith “has it all,” and by the time Act II begins, has lost it all, supposedly.  But not in her mind, as she still has a will of iron to survive as best she can.  And she does.

What have you learned about yourself in playing the role of Edith Bouvier Beale?
Vulnerability.  Edith doesn’t sound, look or act vulnerable, but she is.  She’s certainly controlling, but underneath that she is frightened and vulnerable.

What single word would you use to describe your character in Grey Gardens?
Survivor!

What do you want the audience to experience/take away from this show?
Compassion.  So often we are quick to pass judgment on people, their choices, and the resulting consequences.  Edith and Edie could (and were) called “crazy cat ladies,” and there is no denying that, but maybe there for the grace of God go all of us.

How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
I have never portrayed a real life person.  That is quite a challenge, as I have to embody Edith in mine.  And the show . . . well . . . it sure doesn’t fit the “typical” musical.

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre? How did you get involved with LTA?
I’ve always been a singer, and participated in all my school and church concerts and programs as long as I can remember.  My first “big” role was Queen of the North in the Christmas show when I was in 7th grade.  In college I kept changing my mind on “what I wanted to be when I grew up,” so I took some time off.  When I returned to my home town and studies, my friends had moved away or moved on, so, to meet people I auditioned for a community theatre production of Sweet Charity, and did two more shows that summer.  I eventually changed my major to theatre (with minors in Biology and Chemistry) and here I am.  Coincidentally, when I moved to this area, the first show I auditioned for was LTA’s, Little Me!

What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre?
Go for it.  I know it’s intimidating to audition.  In fact, that is one of my least favorite things to do, just ahead of going to the dentist.  One of the best perks about being involved in theatre is that your “family” grows exponentially with each production.  And, the shared experience of bringing a show to life is priceless.


Grey Gardens - meet cast member Kate Brown

Meet Kate Brown playing Young Little Edie in LTA's Grey Gardens!

What do you find appealing about your character and this show?
I love that three women play Big Edie and Little Edie and that the first act takes place in a completely different time than the second act.  I also love the score.  I am truly fascinated by Edie, both who she was on camera for the documentary and as a girl, because she truly was the "it" girl, poised for take off, destined to have a glorious life.  I like how the show takes the audience on her journey.

What single word would you use to describe Little Edie?
Dreamer.

What have you learned about yourself in playing this role?
I am more grateful for the little things, like a clean cup and running water.

What do you hope the audience takes away from Grey Gardens?
I hope that the audience truly enjoys this true life musical.  I want the audience to feel they know these colorful characters, feel inspired by this amazing story, and laugh!

How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
The musical is adapted from a documentary.  It is artistic genius.

How long have you been acting? How did you get involved with LTA?
I was active in children's community theatre and majored in musical theatre in college.  I missed being involved with the theatre and my family and friends encouraged me to continue with it.  I am grateful to be working with a new, wonderful family at LTA!

What advice would you give others who want to get involved with theatre?
Observe life.  Keep a journal.  Immerse yourself in theatre.  Study, study, study your craft.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Grey Gardens - meet cast member Joel Respress

Meet Joel Respress who is playing Brooks Sr. and Brooks Jr. in LTA's Grey Gardens.

What do you find interesting about this show?
The story of Big Edie and Little Edie is fascinating... upper class to recluses.

What have you learned about yourself in playing the role of Brooks?
While my role is small, it helps support the story, so maintaining focus and matching the intensity of actresses who portray Little Edie in the first and second act is important.

What single word would you use to describe your character?
Glue.

What do you want the audience to take away from this show?
Just to feel the ups and downs, as well as the humor that is in Grey Gardens.

How does Grey Gardens differ from other shows you have worked on?
I have never worked with a small cast.

How long have you been acting?  How did you get involved with LTA?
I've been acting for sixteen years.  I got a late start so I learned on the job.  I started with voice lessons, then at the suggestion of my voice teacher, I auditioned for a show.  Surprised, I got cast.  This is my first show with LTA.  I am excited about being a part of LTA's rich production history.

What advice would you give others who want to get involved in theatre?
Just jump in.  Experience is the best teacher.


Grey Gardens - meet cast member Cassie Cope

What do you find appealing about your character and the show itself, Grey Gardens?
My character, Jackie Bouvier, is such a well known figure in history and it is intriguing to explore what made her into the person she ultimately became.  In the play, there are a lot of foreshadowing details and glimpses into her future life and what will become of her.  The show itself is intricate and layered.  For example, one line that Little Edie speaks in the beginning of Act 1 becomes an important lyric in a song that helps to define her character in Act 2.  The deeper you dive into it, the more connections you see.

What have you learned about yourself in playing your role?
She is just a little younger than me at the time of this play, so I can definitely relate to her.  Of course, it is set in a very different time and place.  Jackie is a proper young lady, and she takes to heart a lot of the good advice her grandfather gives.  Playing her has given me a perspective on how to internalize advice so you can make your future what you hope it will be.

What single word would you use to describe your character?
Regal.

What do you want the audience to experience and take away from Grey Gardens?
This show is about love.  It's not really a soap opera that you're watching for entertainment.  It's a story of how these two women choose their love for each other over anything else the world has to offer them.  One of the lessons is that it's important to stay true to what you want, not to what you have to be.

How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?
Grey Gardens has a much darker tone than other shows I've done.  I've mainly performed in shows for young audiences as well as musical classics like The King and I.

How long have you been acting?  How did you get involved with LTA?
My mom has always taken me to lots of plays in DC, New York, and even London.  We have seen many plays here at LTA and I have always loved Broadway soundtracks, including some really obscure ones.  I took ballet from age two and for almost ten years that was my passion.  But I was going to theater classes and camps too, starting around Kindergarten.  When I was eight, I took my first voice class at LTA with Linda Wells.  It's called Singing for Musical Theatre and now my little sister is in it.  I got cast in my first play when I was nine, and around the age of twelve, I made the difficult decision to switch my focus from ballet to musical theater and voice.  Now I study acting, singing, and dancing, including ballet, but it's all with a clear focus on musical theater.

What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre?
Keep going and don't be afraid to put yourself out there.  The creative team would rather see you try and fail than not try at all.  Also, performing is really fun, but you also need to train regularly to keep improving at your craft.