Q: Where are you from? What was your family like? A: I'm from Louisville, Kentucky. True to Kentucky form, my Dad breeds and races horses. We spent many a holiday, from Thanksgiving to Easter and Mother's Day, at Churchill Downs playing the ponies. Both of my parents and one of my two sisters are lawyers, but my Dad also had a very goofy side that I think strongly influenced my sense of comedy.
Q: When did you begin acting and how did you get into it? What was your first role? A: I started acting when I signed up for an after-school drama class in 4th grade. I remember being amazed to discover that it was something that I was "allowed" to do; that it wasn't just for professionals and that it wasn't too late for me at age 9! We did scenes from multiple musicals. I got to play "Annie" herself and a boy in a scene from Oliver! There are a lot of orphan roles for young actors in musicals!
Q: What are your favorite roles you've had a pleasure of playing and why? A: I have two favorite roles that share a few similarities. The first, Pearl, was actually written for me in a play called Consumption by Courtney Baron which was commissioned for my class our senior year in the Guthrie Theater/University of Minnesota BFA Actor Training Program. The second was Penelope in the world premiere of Rita Rudner's Tickled Pink at the Laguna Playhouse last year. With both roles I got to originate very unique characters who were distinctly different from myself and allowed me to both make audiences laugh and pull at their heartstrings.
There was also Princess Punky in an original adaptation of Puss in Boots in New Hampshire one summer. She was gleefully goofy, hopped everywhere she went, looked like she'd been styled by Cyndi Lauper, and had an inconsistent Germanic accent.
In conclusion, I guess I like originating characters whose names start with the letter P.
Q: When you're not performing, how do you like to spend your time? If you weren't an actor, what other profession would you have liked to explore? A: I've been enjoying writing recently. It gives me the opportunity to tell stories, explore other realities, and share my voice in a different way than acting does. I also have a great love of history, though I've never known how I would have channeled it into a career. I'm working on finding a way to combine it with my love of acting.
Q: Share a story about "the joys of live theater". Either something ridiculous that happened during a show you were in, something you saw in another production, or any other anecdote about things that can only happen in live theater. A: Just a couple of weeks ago actually, a friend of mine who's been appearing in Pride & Prejudice at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis this summer split the crotch of his pants with a loud rip when he knelt down to propose to a Bennett sister! He attempted to cover this up with his hat and his fellow actors on stage couldn't contain their laughter. The incident even made the paper the next day!
Actually, another friend of mine was understudying the production of Tribes that played at the Mark Taper this spring. For part of the run, she was playing the main character's sister and understudying the role of his girlfriend. Another actress was understudying the sister role. In one performance, she played the sister in the first act and, when the actress playing the girlfriend was taken ill mid-show, she stepped into that role for the second act of the show! She played both roles in one performance; a different role each act! When, as the girlfriend in the second act, she kissed the main character, there were audible gasps from the audience, who still thought of her as his sister. This incident also made mention in the LA Times.
Q: What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you personally during a performance? A: Knock on wood. I've been pretty fortunate on this front. Much like Gary's story a few weeks ago, there was one time where a scene partner and I just didn't seem to be able to get the dialogue for one chunk of a scene. I knew he was getting the lines wrong, but it was understandable because he had an immense number of lines in the show. I diplomatically suggested that we run lines backstage so that he could realize the error of his ways only to discover when we consulted the script that I was the one messing up the lines in that particular moment...whoops!