Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cherry Jones...

I'm not a person who gets starstruck.  Unless that person is Cherry Jones.

The first time I saw her was in Doubt at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2006.  She had already been enjoying a career in theatre, voiceovers, film and tv by that point...but she was new to me and I remember being just riveted by her performance.  The kind of performance where you catch yourself holding your breath.  Gravitas.  That is the perfect word to describe the quality she brings to her work.

I love what Ben Brantley wrote in the last paragraph of his review of Doubt in the New York Times:

"Even as "Doubt" holds your conscious attention as an intelligently measured debate play, it sends off stealth charges that go deeper emotionally. And when Sister Aloysius, in response to Sister James's complaints that she hasn't been sleeping well, says, 'Maybe we're not supposed to sleep well,' the softly spoken words unsettle in ways that full-voiced cries of anguish seldom do."


There's something compelling and mysterious about people who embody that characteristic.  It's innate, which makes it even more alluring.

She's starring in The Glass Menagerie on Broadway in a few months, playing Amanda Wingfield...the mother of my friend Celia Keenan-Bolger who is playing Laura.  I just may have a chance to meet her--keep your fingers crossed for me.

Check out this brief clip:



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Jennifer Ehle

Yes!  Ms. Jennifer Ehle!  I first became aware of her when I was touring in Fame the Musical.  PBS was on as background noise as I was preparing to leave the hotel for my day off.  I was just about to turn the TV off, when the credits starting rolling for Pride and Prejudice, which is one of my all time favorite books and films...my mom and I used to watch the old black and white version starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson whenever it was on TV.

I was hooked immediately...down went my bag, and I spent my day off watching the first 5 episodes of the brilliant miniseries that also starred Colin Firth.  There's something about her...you can see it in her photo as Elizabeth Bennet...that substance and realness behind her eyes...and she brings that to everything she does.

She was born in North Carolina to British actress Rosemary Harris, and American author John Ehle.  She grew up in both the US and the UK...making the English accent she needed for P&P very accessible to say the least! 

I love her career--theatre, television and film.  She's won 2 Tony Awards, and a SAG award.  I love how easy she makes fully inhabiting a moment look.  There's a lot of homework and prep going on there to make it look so effortless.  I've never seen one second of her performances when she is not plugged in...I've taken to watching her in the background of scenes and she is always just brilliant.  

Check out this scene where she lets Mr Darcy have it when he backhandedly asks for her hand in marriage:


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Margo Martindale

Have you seen this woman?  I bet you have...she's built a stunning body of work for herself on stage and screens large and small.

I became aware of her when she blew me away with her Emmy Award winning portrayal of Mags Bennett in season 2 of Justified.  You should ABSOLUTELY see that!  That character is a beast...she is monstrous, maternal, weighty, funny, edgy...and she sings.  You never really know what she's going to do or how far she's willing to go to get what she wants.  And you can't stop watching.

She went to University of Michigan, and started her career as a stage actress, and has the presence and gravity that theatrical training develops.  She can reach through the screen.  And surprise you again and again.

She's now on FX's The Americans.  She elevates every show she becomes a part of.  There seems to be a pattern of her arriving during the sophomore season of new shows...is that a strategy to help bolster shows and infuse them with some staying power?  I don't know...but as long as Margo's onboard, I'm watching.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sophie Thompson


Welcome to my first post! Thank you for taking the time to have a look!

As you've read, this blog is about my professional acting career here in New York. I've been here full time in the city for a year now, and during that time  I've acquired an agent, done a show,  recorded a soundtrack, performed for Mayor Bloomberg, become a regular at the Duplex, and auditioned for Robert de Niro.   As we all know, the life of an actor is a balancing act, so in addition to telling you about my life as an actor, I'm going to tell you about actors who have inspired me with their genius as well.  What I love about them is that they do consistently compelling work, have eclectic bodies of work and always exhibit humor and joy in their art.

First genius:  Sophie Thompson

I first became aware of Sophie when I watched her play Miss Bates in the film "Emma" starring Gwyneth Paltrow.  I love an understated performance, and Sophie does this brilliantly.  These kind of performances only happen when the actor so inhabits their character that every choice they make, every breath they take as that character rings true.  Sophie made it look as if she was behaving, not acting.  That is always the goal.  

Jane Austen describes that character this way:

“Her daughter [Miss Bates] enjoyed a most uncommon degree of popularity for a woman neither young, handsome, rich, nor married. Miss Bates stood in the very worst predicament in the world for having much of the public favour; and she had no intellectual superiority to make atonement to herself or frighten those who might hate her into outward respect.  She had never boasted either beauty or cleverness.  Her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the care of a failing mother and the endeavor to make a small income go as far as possible.  And yet she was a happy woman, a woman whom no one named without goodwill.  It was her own universal goodwill and contented temper which worked such wonders.  She loved everybody, was interested in everybody’s happiness, quick-sighted to everybody’s merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother and so many good neighbors and friends and a home that wanted for nothing.  The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to everybody and a mine of felicity to herself.”

You've gotta check out how Sophie inhabits Miss Bates, especially in this scene when she attempts to recover her dignity when Emma embarrasses her at a group picnic--she breaks your heart!  And made me want to break Emma's jaw:



See you next Tuesday...and thanks again for reading!