My blog post today centers around a big announcement. Well, it’s big for me anyway. I want to let you know what I’m doing with the rest of my summer.
I booked a play. And not just any play. The world premiere of a new play.
And here’s where it gets even more interesting…The character I’m playing is an injured Broadway dancer. I know, right?! When I looked at the script in preparation for the audition I thought, “I’ve got this.”
I have quite a lot of experience with the injured thing. In 1991, I obliterated my ankle coming out of a pas de deux lift. In 2009, I had surgery to fix four meniscus tears in my knee. And lately, as some of you know from following me on social media, I have been suffering from a herniated disc in my back. All of these injuries have catapulted me into periods of physical therapy, sadness, and sulking as I’ve wondered, “why me?” To not be able to dance is the paramount of torture for me…for most dancers, I believe. That feeling of glum can infuse every other aspect of your life, too. It’s just wearisome to rise above what feels like such a lost cause as the weeks and months carry on.
I was in exactly that kind of headspace when it was time to attend a one-day acting intensive I had signed up for weeks prior. It was with a famous casting director and teacher so, through the pain in my back, I opened myself up to the vulnerabilities and judgment of an acting class. I thought even if I couldn’t dance, I could apply myself to this different aspect of my craft. To make a very long story short…after performing my scene in class, I was cut to the quick, insulted, and in a way, bullied. I was then told some baloney that it was because of my potential and that the teacher is always harder on the students that are the best. It did not feel that way and I thought, “I can’t dance. And apparently I can’t act either.” It sent me spiraling down into a place of wanting to give up entirely.
It was in this frame of mind that I almost decided to run from the audition for this play. Because of the class, I hadn’t yet had time to read the script for the play and I hadn’t yet seen which scenes I was supposed to perform at the audition. Here I was, injured in body and soul, and I had no idea that the play was actually about an injured bird.
Then, as if a move of defiance came over me, I decided to say F U to that teacher and to my gloomy mood. I felt like Diana in A CHORUS LINE, who sings “Nothing”, the song where she cries out what a nincompoop her high school drama teacher was.
I’d been wanting to work for months and I was in no position to turn down an audition, a chance. Why in the world would I give this one teacher the power to determine my dreams and my confidence? One single person should never have that much control over anyone! I picked up the script to find a story completely befitting my exact situation and a character I understood with every fiber of my being. A story that, in the playing of it, would offer healing for what my broken spirit was suffering. It was an absolute gift in front of me.
One last hurdle…I realized I had 22 pages of scenes to learn for the audition. Not something you want to find out when you’ve procrastinated until the night before a morning appointment. Oops.
My hope made me buckle down. My commitment and inner-knowing drove me on. The rest is history and I begin rehearsals today. I simply cannot wait!!
Here are the deets:
The play is called DANCING LESSONS. It was written by Mark St. Germain and it is a two-hander also starring John Cariani. (This means it will only be the two of us on stage.) It centers around a young man with high-functioning autism as he tries to navigate a relationship with a Broadway dancer, now sidelined with injuries.
It is a touching piece. Funny, moving. I’m still in disbelief that I booked it! And I’m genuinely thrilled to be the first actress to play this incredible role.
Barrington Stage is in the Berkshires and is a lovely place to work. I know many people who’ve come up here and have really enjoyed their experience. They recruit many New York actors and often transfer stuff to NYC. Not that there are those plans for this play just yet, but I say that to put their reputation into perspective.
Our first preview is August 7.
Opening night is August 13.
Closing August 24.
If you’re in this area of the country, please come! I’d be honored to have you here to celebrate this milestone with me.