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Blithe Spirit

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Bonnie Wickeraad
August 19, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Actor.

What is your show about?
Complete chaos ensues when, in pursuit of ideas for his novel, Charles Condamine accidentally conjures up his dead wife.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I think perhaps my parents knew I was going to be in the theatre before I did. As a child it was of the utmost importance to me that I knew what my face looked like when I was sad or mad or giving puppy dog eyes to get something I wanted. I had rationalized that I had to practice in the mirror so that when a situation came along, the look on my face would be effective. I would have entire conversations with myself in the mirror. This resulted in my parents placing sheets and towels over all the mirrors so that I could focus long enough to get ready for bed. Additionally, I made bustles out of sheets, wrapped myself in ace bandages to simulate a corset and was very proud of my fan made of real feathers. Clearly I was destined to either be institutionalized or grace the stage. Thank goodness it was the latter.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I do theatre because I get to be part of the magic. In film and TV the magic happens in the editing room and I as an actor have very little control over the final product. I also find that there is much more of a start to finish process in theatre. I have so much more time to play and learn about my character; to take chances and fail or succeed. There is nothing in the world so wonderful as the moment before the lights come up. There is a silent prayer that goes out into the universe from both actors and audience; "I hope I do this justice", "I hope this moves me". It is one of the most ancient and sacred events one can take part in.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
It is always a treat to work on Noel Coward. Great writing is such a gift to an actor. I am in love with all the fantastic language I get to let roll off my tongue. When else am I going to call someone didactic or puerile?

Which famous person would you most like to get a fan letter from: Denzel Washington, Maggie Smith, Ang Lee, Audra McDonald?
I know Im straying here.. but if I received a fan letter from Judi Dench I would present it along with my headshot and resume at auditions. She has had the most amazing career. Is there anything she can't do?! I just saw her perform in 'Peter and Alice' in London. I walked out of the theatre with a profound feeling of gratitude for her generosity as an actor.

If you had ten million dollars that you had to spend on theatrical endeavors, how would you use the money?
If I had 10 million dollars (which isn't much these days in the theatre), I would bring the National Theatre's performance of The Magistrate with John Lithgow to Broadway. I think Americans don't get enough well done classic theatre and this one was superb.