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STORIES FROM THE STAGE – TONY GOLDWYN

I had been a member of Actor’s Equity for over a decade before making my Broadway debut.  The opportunity finally arose in 1995 with a revival of Philip Barry’s Holiday, directed by David Warren at the Circle in the Square.  Laura Linney played Linda Seton opposite my Johnny Case.  Also in the cast were Reg Rogers as Ned Seton and Kim Raver as Julia Seton.  From the first day of rehearsal, I was in a state of euphoria.  I had done a number of plays Off-Broadway, as well as in regional theater.  But Broadway really did feel different.

Unlike most kids who grow up in Los Angeles, my parents took me to the theater a lot and I can recite every show I ever saw — don’t worry, I won’t.  My first was Fiddler on the Roof with Zero Mostel.  I was 4 years old and spent most of the play under my seat convinced that the ghost of Golde’s grandmother Tzeitel would reappear to pluck me out of the audience.   Despite my terror, I was hooked.

David Warren’s production of Holiday was excellent and, from what I was told, received rave notices.  I learned early on in my career to avoid reading reviews like the plague — which is exactly how I view them.  Reviews are totally debilitating to an actor.  Read a bad one and you can quote it word for word until the day you die.  Read a good one and your performance is forever cursed with a voice in your brain saying, “Oh, this is the bit they liked.”  I find it much healthier to glean a general “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” from the degree of elation or awkwardness on everyone’s faces the day after Opening Night.

During the run of Holiday, I will admit to a bit of a hitch in my “critical discipline.”  One night, a couple of old friends who were not in the business came to see the show.  As we walked to grab a late bite at B. Smith, one of them said, “How do you handle bad reviews?”  “I don’t read them.”  “Yeah, but what about the really bad ones?”  Gulp.  She didn’t stop there. “Like the one in New York Magazine?”  Apparently, the raves were not unanimous.  Another life lesson: they never are.  John Simon, the legendary chief critic for New York Magazine, was universally loathed in the theater community for his viciously clever eviscerations of actors, invidiously centering on references to their physical attributes — or lack thereof.  My first stop after supper was the late night newsstand on 8th Avenue to rip through the current issue of New York.  I had to laugh out loud when I saw that Laura Linney was a “goddess” (which she is) but that “Tony Goldwyn with his raw, somehow unfinished face, was sadly miscast in the role of Johnny Case.”  I have no idea what a “raw, somehow unfinished face” actually is.  But that’s what I looked like to Mr. Simon.  Like I said, you remember ever word of the bad ones.

John Simon’s snark notwithstanding, the run of Holiday was pure joy.  Laura, of course, was magic and so was Kim in her New York debut.  Reg Rogers gave a hilarious and heartbreaking performance as their alcoholic brother, Ned.

One night about three months into the run, Reg and I were doing one of our favorite scenes.  The entire second act of the play is set in the attic gymnasium of the Seton mansion.  My character, Johnny, never leaves the stage while the others enter and exit in rapid-fire succession.  We had played the scene a hundred times but, as can happen to the best of us, my mind inexplicably went blank.  In theater parlance, I “went up.”  Badly.  Pace is everything in a Philip Barry play, so my brain freeze gave me the sensation of being shoved off a cliff.  Fortunately, what seemed like five minutes probably lasted less than five seconds.  Reg saw the panic in my face and looked at me like, “Don’t worry, I got you.”  The calm confidence in his eyes somehow coaxed the words to start firing out of my mouth again, as Mr. Barry had written them.

Crisis averted.  Or so I thought.  Unfortunately, the body has some unpredictable reactions to stress;  one of them is commonly known as a “flop sweat.”  Not a pleasant experience for an actor decked out in white tie and tails.  About thirty seconds after getting the train back on the rails, a surge of heat flooded my face and my fancy suit was instantly drenched in sweat.  As each new actor entered the stage, I watched their faces go from puzzled to concerned to horrified. When the lights came down at the end of the act, I descended through a trap door in the stage to the basement below, where the entire company was gathered, along with two paramedics ready to wheel me into an ambulance.  Everyone thought I’d had a heart attack.  The EMT’s made me lie down on a stretcher and it was no small task to convince them that the only thing I needed was a change of clothes.

And, as they say, the show went on.

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FIRST BREAK – Jayne Atkinson

By Jayne Atkinson

The moment that changed my life: I was working with Kathy Borowitz (Wonderful actress and married to John Tuturro) in a patisserie on 72nd and Columbus- I think there’s a sock shop there now. I had just graduated from Northwestern and was trying a summer out in New York. She had just graduated from Yale Drama School. She was so lovely and funny. She would practice her French accent on our customers. She was also rehearsing Cloud 9 down at the public. ( She was amazing).

I had only known of one person who had gone to Yale Drama School… Meryl Streep. To me, the idea of going there was a star that was so out of my reach. Meeting Kathy made me realize that a regular actress like myself could reach for that star. She encouraged me and helped me believe in myself. I auditioned…and I got in! It was the first step to believing in myself and seeing myself succeed and that moment changed my life forever!

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Spotlight on Plays FAQ


When will I receive my access code to watch?

Your access code for each play will be sent to the email registered with your Stellar account shortly before each premiere. You must be logged into the Stellar account that you used to purchase your ticket in order to view.

How can I watch the Spotlight on Plays presentations?

The Spring Season is available to stream exclusively on Stellar Tickets. You can watch in several different ways:

Desktop or Laptop Browser: Stellar streams work on most browsers on both Mac and PC computers. We recommend Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for the best viewing experience. To view on a browser, just come to this page at the event time and select “Livestream” to start the stream.

Mobile Browser: Viewing on a mobile browser works the same as viewing on a desktop browser. Just come to this page at the event time and select “Livestream” to start the stream.

Stellar Tickets Mobile Apps: You can download the Stellar Tickets app for iOS or Android to watch your stream on your mobile device.

How can I watch it on my television? 

Download the Stellar app to view the presentation on a TV: 

Roku TV: https://channelstore.roku.com/details/01cb02bbe8c0deefcdfcc0b3385dc9a1/stellar 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.stellartix

Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/stellar-tickets/id1514496983

How long will the shows be available? 

Each Spotlight on Play presentation will be available for 96 hours following the initial premiere time of 8:00PM Eastern Time. You are able to watch the show at any time during this window. Please note that on-demand access will not become available until after the live event has fully streamed. If you miss the premiere, the on-demand video will become available a few hours following the event. Once the time frame expires, there will be no encore performances and the presentation will be unavailable for streaming.

If I’m not able to watch the premiere, can I see it later? 

Yes! Each title will be available for 96 hours following the initial premiere time. You must watch the show before this time frame expires. Once the time frame expires, there will be no encore performances and the presentation will be unavailable for streaming.

I purchased multiple tickets. How do I transfer the additional tickets to my friends? 

Tickets can be transfered by accessing “My Tickets” in your Stellar Tickets account. Then, click on the event page you’d like to access and scroll down to where it says “Your Tickets.” You will see “Transfer ticket” on the right side of the screen. From there, you can select the ticket you want to transfer and type in the email address of the new recipient. They will receive an email from Stellar Tickets, which may go to their promotions folder on Gmail.

How long is each show? 

Run times vary between 90 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes. Longer presentations will include a brief intermission.

Can I watch outside of the US?

Yes, you are able to watch outside of the US.

What is the refund/exchange policy?

There are no exchanges or refunds for the Spotlight on Plays Spring Season. This is a series of charitable benefit performances and we greatly appreciate your generous contribution to The Actors Fund.

How is this benefitting The Actors Fund?

Founded in 1882, The Actors Fund serves all professionals—and not just actors—in film, theater, television, music, opera, radio and dance through programs that address our community’s unique and essential needs.

Your generous donation to The Actors Fund will help provide everyone in the performing arts and entertainment community with emergency financial assistance, affordable housing, health insurance counseling, supplemental employment, addiction and recovery services and so much more.

Will these readings be captioned?

Yes, there will be an option to turn on subtitles.

If my whole family wants to watch the presentation, do we each need our own ticket?

No, only one livestream ticket is needed per household, not per individual. 

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Stories From the Stage Holly Wasson

COPY PASTE THE ARTICLE HERE. meow meow meow. I am not a cat, I am holly. I’m stuck with this cat filter on my face. My assistant is coming to help me but I am not a cat

I repeat I am not a cat. I am holly

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STORIES FROM THE STAGE – Penny Fuller

I was in Los Angeles at ORAY’S BEAUTY SALON off Santa Monica Boulevard across from the Santa Palm Carwash. My head was in the sink. (I was having my hair returned to “normal” after shooting a TV pilot, written for me, never seen EVEN on the “dead pilot season”). The phone was handed to me, it was my manager saying, “I was to fly to Baltimore to take over the juicy role of “Eve Harrington” in the out-of-town tryout of the musical “APPLAUSE”, based on the award winning film: “ALL ABOUT EVE” starring Lauren Bacall.”

“When?” I asked. ”Tonight!” he said.

And the saga began.

When I was taken, knees, shaking, to meet Miss Bacall, I kept thinking: “Please let her understand that if I am good it will only help her!”

I was approved; rehearsed 3 days (my career always seems to be coming in at the last minute…but that’s another story!), opened, flew next to Detroit, then we opened in New York to wonderful reviews, and settled in to the miracle of a hit long run!

By this time, Bacall and I (or “Betty” as she was know to pals) had become real chums! She and I and Lee Roy Reams (who played her hairdresser in the show) became  a threesome, hanging out and having a ball for a year. Then Betty left the show and was replaced by Anne Baxter (the original “Eve” in the movie. Wonderful stories, too, but for another time).

Next APPLAUSE was do the national tour with Bacall and the available original cast. I declined, saying I had been “Eve, Eve, little Miss Evil” long enough! I felt I just couldn’t do it any more.

The reviews across the country were not like those in New York!Perhaps the heartland was less interested in a story of the “theatah”!!!! Betty missed me (and Lee Roy, who hadn’t toured either), but she carried on. The creative team was worried. In San Francisco it was decided to bring me into the show in preparation for Los Angeles, the city that WOULD greet, with critical eye, the musical of the iconic film, and Lauren Bacall’s “Welcome Home”. I arrive; I have a three hour “put in rehearsal”, I went on!

APPLAUSE begins “at the TONY AWARDS!” Margo Channing, (Betty, ) announces the winner of  “BEST ACTRESS: Eve Harrington!!!!” Thunderous applause boosted by more over the sound system: “Eve” (me!!!), SITTING IN THE AUDIENCE, comes onstage, breathlessly receives her award from Margo saying:”Needless to say this is the best night of my life!”

I extend my hand to Margo. Instead of glaring at me with a look of wry recognition, abetted by the sound system recording her TRUE thoughts..I see Betty, my dear pal, wreathed in dazzling smiles: I am back!!!!!!!


Remembering Lauren Bacall

I have been reading thru the obits for Lauren Bacall. I think I had forgotten that my friend, Betty, WAS Lauren Bacall! I was brought into “APPLAUSE”, her first musical, during its out-of-town tryouts, giving me a chance to see the show and HER: the STAR, charisma, magic, wit, timing, beauty, and power. But from the moment I walked on stage to rehearse my first scene in “Margo Channing’s” dressing room, she let me know we were colleagues; offstage she welcomed me as a friend…always. What fun we had in both worlds. That’s why I forgot she was “Bogey’s Baby”. When she was on her book tour I brought my 6 month old baby daughter to “meet” her: within seconds Betty was crawling on the floor with her, playing; some years later we three met by chance in Paris. Betty saw and recognized me, yelled across the boulevard, and took us to Cafe de Flore, talking to my daughter, aged 7 or 8. as if she were one of the girls”!! And she was THERE 

I have been reading thru the obits for Lauren Bacall. I think I had forgotten that my friend, Betty, WAS Lauren Bacall! I was brought into “APPLAUSE”, her first musical, during its out-of-town tryouts, giving me a chance to see the show and HER: the STAR, charisma, magic, wit, timing, beauty, and power. But from the moment I walked on stage to rehearse my first scene in “Margo Channing’s” dressing room, she let me know we were colleagues; offstage she welcomed me as a friend…always. What fun we had in both worlds. That’s why I forgot she was “Bogey’s Baby”. When she was on her book tour I brought my 6 month old baby daughter to “meet” her: within seconds Betty was crawling on the floor with her, playing; some years later we three met by chance in Paris. Betty saw and recognized me, yelled across the boulevard, and took us to Cafe de Flore, talking to my daughter, aged 7 or 8. as if she were one of the girls”!! And she was THERE for me during deaths in my family like NO ONE ELSE. And yet my friend was that icon I have been reading about.

She never suffered fools gladly; she had a sharp wit. a sharper tongue, a fabulous laugh, and was a straight shooter! I hope the after life id ready for her. Oh, how I shall miss her.


Penny Fuller received two Tony Award nominations for her performances on Broadway in Applause as Eve Harringtonand The Dinner Party as Gabrielle Buonocelli. For her television performances, Fuller received six Emmy Award nominations, winning in 1982 for playing Madge Kendal in The Elephant Man. Most recently, she appeared in the 2017 revival of Sunday in the Park with George and as the Dowager Empress in Anastasia.

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STORIES FROM THE STAGE – Victor Garber

The Broadway production of Tartuffe, at Circle in the Square, in 1978 was something that set me on an unthinkable trajectory of success.

John Wood and Tammy Grimes were the stars, along with Patricia Elliot, Swoosie Kurtz, Stephan Gierasch, Peter Coffield, and Mildred Dunnock. The production was directed by Stephen Porter. John had had tremendous success in England at the Royal Shakespeare Company and turned New York on its heels with his performances in Sherlock Holmes and Travesties. I was an enormous fan.

He was an intimidating, brilliant man, with edges that could cut deep. The production of Tartuffe was successful, and although John and I had little to do together in the play, he was always kind to me backstage. We weren’t buddies.

One night he handed me a script backstage, after the bows, and asked me if I would read it. He’d been offered a new play and wanted to know what I thought. I was shocked, flattered, and when I rushed home and started reading it, I realized he must be considering me to play Clifford in Ira Levin’s thriller, Deathtrap. My head was spinning. Did I make this part up? But why else would he ask for my opinion? We’d never even had dinner together.

When I returned to the theatre and knocked on his dressing room door, he immediately asked me what I thought. I remember immediately insisting that he must play Sidney Bruhl. It was a fantastic role for him, never insinuating the possibility of my playing Clifford. He paused, something he did to great dramatic effect, and said, “Of course you must play Clifford”. I’m sure I blushed, something I did often, and he asked me if he could read with me for my audition. I blushed again, and said that would be great.

Soon afterwards, we read together for Robert Moore, the director, and Alfred de Liagre, the legendary Broadway producer. I’ll just say, that was a moment. Over the year, we worked together, John and I had many ups and downs. My unconditional love and support came from the incomparable Marian Seldes, who played Myra until the end of the 5 year run.

I will always be grateful to John for choosing me to play opposite him. That production definitely had an enormous impact on my career. I just wish we’d been able to find a way to be closer.


Victor Garber

Victor Garber was most recently seen as Horace Vandergelder in the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! He originated roles in the Broadway productions of Sweeney Todd, Noises Off, Lend Me a Tenor (Tony Award nomination), Arcadia, and Art. Additional Broadway credits include Deathtrap (Tony nomination), They’re Playing Our Song, Little Me (Tony nomination), The Devil’s Disciple, Damn Yankees (Tony nomination) and Present Laughter

He’s been seen on film in Sicario, Self/less, Argo, Milk, Legally Blonde, Titanic, The First Wives Club and Sleepless in Seattle. Television credits include Alias (three Emmy Award nominations), Frasier (Emmy nomination), Will & Grace (Emmy nomination), Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (Emmy nomination), Power, The Orville, Deception, Eli Stone, Justice, Web Therapy, The Big C, Nurse Jackie, Damages, Glee, Annie, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and The Music Man.
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STORIES FROM THE STAGE – Jason Biggs

‘American Pie’ premiered in 1999, catapulting me and my castmates into the cultural zeitgeist and changing the course of my professional and personal life forever.

Doing press around the release of the film, I was often asked what it was like to be an “overnight sensation.” While it was impossible to ignore the simple fact that yes, everything literally changed overnight, I found myself resenting the question and its implication that I had come out of nowhere to achieve this success.

Because in truth, I had been acting professionally and working fairly consistently since I got my first agent in 1983. And while nothing I did in that decade and a half had the reach or impact that ‘American Pie’ would eventually have, there were still a few projects that at the time I considered to be “big breaks.”

One of them was my first play, a production of Herb Gardner’s Conversations With My Father. I was with the production from the very first reading in 1990 at HB Studio in the West Village, to the two-month tryout at the Seattle Repertory Theater (the first time I ever “went on location”), to the Broadway run in 1992. From the age of twelve to fourteen, I acted almost nightly opposite Judd Hirsch (in a role for which he won the Tony) and Tony Shalhoub and a brilliant ensemble, learning everything I could from them, watching and listening to the show when I wasn’t required to be on stage. It was here that I gained the confidence to play to the audience, and the ability to know when not to. I learned that no two performances were alike, and that when I enter stage left and accidentally trip on a step and improvise a line to my father about him needing to fix it, Judd Hirsch will clap back with a “yeah, yeah, I’ll get to it” and then carry on with the scene as written.

I learned how to be present and connected to another actor. I learned how to help lift an actor when they were struggling, and how to receive the help when I needed it. I learned how to show up on time, always. I learned how to be a part of a work family, and to have fun offstage. But perhaps most importantly, I learned that all good jobs come to an end.

It taught me to be grateful for the opportunities that I would get. To enjoy the moment, and to not get ahead of myself. This would serve me especially well years later when ‘American Pie’ would become a global success. I have an inherent understanding that not every job I do will be as successful, and that even the successful ones will eventually fade into memory. There are just no guarantees. But that’s ok. Because the way I see it, the next “big” break is always right around the corner.


Jason Biggs is an American actor and comedian known for his work in the American Pie comedy film series, and Orange Is the New Black. He also starred in Boys and Girls, Loser, Saving Silverman, Anything Else, Jersey Girl, Eight Below, Over Her Dead Body, and My Best Friend’s Girl.

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STORIES FROM THE STAGE – Jessica Hecht

Today is my daughter Stella’s 21s birthday. She studies statistics and Italian, vaguely likes theatre, and is utterly straightforward, charmingly so. Naturally I am spending time assessing whether I’ve been a hindrance or help as she walks into a sea of adults never to be a child again.

We started our mother daughter dance in a kind of protective bubble but within a few short months, I was doing a play and carting her to rehearsals so as not to disrupt her supposed sense of comfort. The play on hand was called Lobster Alice and we performed it at Playwright’s Horizons back when Playwright’s Horizons was a rickety mid-town haunt and the term Hell’s Kitchen had slightly more meaning. The wonderful director Maria Mileaf was at the helm and she was a new mother as well.

Stella and I felt very taken care of. The rehearsals were complete with breaks to breastfeed and the seasoned nanny, I’d met through a friend, seemed only slightly weirded out by the looks of our 46th street rehearsal space. We rolled into previews and I thought perhaps having Stella in my dressing room, or even backstage for that matter, might provide maximum coddling for her 6 month old self.

One evening, I sang to her in the dressing room as I donned the gorgeous period costume Ann Hould-Ward had dreamed up. It was circa 1940 in our play, I was secretary to an animator that  Reg Rogers brilliantly portrayed. I was in love with said animator. During this particular evening, the love scene we were to enact had been slightly rewritten. I was to raise my voice in frustration and then our mutual attraction was to be realized and some of this romance would ensue. I focused on those new lines and the raise in my voice belted over the monitor. The sound woke Stella from her comfy sleep and she began to cry.

Stella cried powerfully and relentlessly and due to the way in which the stage was situated over the basement dressing rooms, Reg and I could hear the crying but those in the house remained oblivious. My body could not take it. My breasts began to express milk in such a forceful way that two round puddles formed  on the front of my swanky suit jacket and I myself began to silently sob.

My attempt to” mother” while on stage, was the first of many miscalculations as a parent. As much as I’d like to think I’m a swell multitasker-there was simply no damn way to do both tasks at hand.. I could not maintain even a slight veneer of the character. I really should have been a magnet for Reg in that moment, but no, my sense was that he was frightened…or perhaps repelled? 

I raced off stage at the end of the show to Stella now howling and Ann Hould Ward, the kind nanny and several stage hands, trying in vain to soothe her. Maria arrived minutes later with her usual notepad and said : “I have only a few things from the beginning of the play. I want to shift to the final scene and just ask….”What was WRONG with you. Were you sobbing??? It’s a love scene…..”

And in retrospect it was. Between me and my daughter. If I had it to do over, forgive me, I perhaps would have done it all the same. 


Jessica Hecht – BIO

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STORIES FROM THE STAGE – Michael Feinstein

Most people think I’m from New York, especially after years of singing all of those sophisticated show tunes, in Nightclubs and on Broadway and always in a well cut suit. But truth to tell, I’m from Columbus, Ohio and I learned all the classic show tunes from afar, never dreaming I’d have a personal association with the Great White Way and experience the genuine endorphin rush of playing multiple times on Broadway.

But I did have a connection to Broadway. My maternal Grandmother’s brother was a Broadway Property Master for over 70 years who became a beloved legend whom I adored every time he visited Columbus. HIs name was Hymie Gates and you would have loved him too. He regaled me with stories that spanned the entire 20th Century history of theatre, having started in Yiddish theatre on the lower East side working with Paul Muni and other enduring icons of the stage.

Hymie was known as the Mayor of 45th street, having been the Property Master of the Morosco for over 30 years. He gave Joseph Papp his first job in the theatre and eventually became the oldest member of the Stagehand’s Union. They had to create a special 75 year pin for him at his retirement dinner. Hymie knew everybody: George Gerswhin, Al Jolson (for whom he would read the reviews from the Yiddish papers), Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, Cab Calloway (“the bum owes me twenty dollars”), Julie Harris (his favorites) and Mandy Patinkin.

In 1977 I came to visit Uncle Hy and Aunt Blanche and happened to be there when a very young Mandy first appeared in “The Shadow Box” at the Morosco. He and Uncle Hy deeply bonded and Mandy was so captivated with him that he wanted to do a show about Uncle Hymie’s life. It didn’t bother him that Uncle Hymie always called him Mandy Potemkin, and he spent hours recording Unclue Hy’s delightful stories and documenting his history, but unfortunately the show never happened. 

However, if you ever saw the film “The Princess Bride” you’ll know what Uncle Hymie sounded like. Mandy literally copied Uncle Hy’s Russian/Jewish accent and it turned it into the voice for his Latin character. Every time I hear it I crack up.

So even though my dear Hymie is no longer here, he will live on in the love he instilled in me for the Theatre, and his voice will endure whenever someone hears Mandy Patinkin say: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”


Michael Feinstein has built a dazzling career over the last three decades bringing the music of the Great American songbook to the world. From recordings that have earned him five Grammy Award nominations to his Emmy nominated PBS-TV specials, his acclaimed NPR series and concerts spanning the globe – in addition to his appearances at iconic venues such as The White House, Buckingham Palace, Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House – his work as an educator and archivist define Feinstein as one of the most important musical forces of our time.

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Stories from the Stage – Jill Cordle

One of my favorite experiences as a Stage Manager has been working on the show Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth. It stands out to me for several reasons. I went to London to rehearse the show which was a first for me. Working with my assistant Ken McGee, I learned a lot about how differently a British director and acting company work on a play. There was a lot of improvisation and playtime built into the day. The majority of the cast had done the show before so this helped the new members (and us) get a feel for the show and become integrated into the world of the play. We also had to work on our accents (we all had to practice it for a few days). And we took a field trip to the area outside London to the part of England where our play was set.

This passion and care to create the exact atmosphere was invaluable as we moved this show to New York.

Another extraordinary component was that the show had live chickens, (kept in their own “star” dressing room) a turtle, goldfish, a horse trough full of water, small children, real grass and dirt and an Airstream trailer on stage. As it turns out this was not the last show I did with live animals and children but that’s another story. The magic we created together with Mark Rylance as the lead actor and Ian Rickson as our director was an amazing experience. The show started with a late night rave party with strobe lights, stage fog and LOUD music and ended with the conjuring of mythical giants.

Every night I was swept away as the actors and technicians joined together to believe wholeheartedly in the story we were telling. We were lucky to be able to make that magic with every performance.


JILL CORDLE BIO & PIC