Roles: From King of the Entire World to Genet’s The Maids

My all-time favorite is still playing The King of the Entire World, an original play for kids about a king who thinks his little Island is the entire world and finds out there’s a much bigger world out there.   I got to sing great songs before hundreds of kids.  One time we did a “road show” at a school in Chinatown.  600 excited kids jammed the elementary school auditorium.   They loved the play.   Best theatrical experience of my life!  Still brings a tear to my eye to remember it!

Fond memores too of playing…

…A newscaster doing a striptease in front of a mirror (just down to his underclothes and suspenders.  Funny, not racy.) as he gives the evening news.

…A samurai a la John Belushi speaking completely nonsensical Japanese-sounding syllables.  I can’t remember what the straight-man in this skit was supposed to be.  Definitely fun, though sometimes it just didn’t work.

…Charlie.  A guy at a bar with just two lines in a drama in an extremely early venture into playwriting by a man (Richard Price) who went on to be a successful novelist and screenwriter.  I liked being Charlie and I got to smoke a cigarette.

And since I’ve moved to Vermont

Ulrik Brendel:  A decrepit man who appears in scenes near the beginning and end of an Ibsen melodrama, Rosmersholm, who has wild hopes that are overpowered by deeply his engrained despair.

Henry Ford.  As he really was: a quick-witted and even witty man, but at base a bombastic, unpleasant son of a bitch driven by a lust for power at any price and by his hatred of Jews.   He’s funny, at first, but once you see who he is, it’s hard to laugh with him.

Sidney Bruhl:  A wonderfully-crafted caricature of a murderer.  A playwright who will kill, apparently to have a successful play, but actually to get rid of his wife and have his gay lover move in.   Sidney, despite his homicidal faults, is a lot funnier man than Henry Ford.  A fantastic role!

My second favorite role ever is Mr. Smith in Ionesco’s absurdist The Bald Soprano.  I played him in the late seventies and again a couple years ago.  What a delightfully insane character!

Howard Wagner:  The “business is business” boss who fires Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman.   Hard as rock.   Abotraight a role as I’ve ever played.

And now:  Madame in Jean Genet’s The Maids.  That’s what I’m rehearsing now.  What a role!  The three of us are me, an eighteen year old female and and a seventeen year old male playing a girl.   It’s quite a spectacle.  Seven performances, the first of which is three days from today (Ii.e. It opens Friday, October 25, 2013).   I hope audiences really enjoy it.  It’s challenging stuff, but it’s been unbelievably exciting to take on the persona of the  phony, vicious, narcissistic, shallow, controlling, aging bitch who is my take on Madame and the two young maids, Claire and Solange, are a delight to work with.   (For more on Madame, read my previous post.)

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