I’m asking veteran local actors to name five dream roles and say why. The answers not only reveal aspirations, they may put an idea in the minds of artistic directors and producers – even choices that may seem outside the box.
Craig Noel Award-winner Amanda Sitton.
“Just five plays? Really, Mr. Smith?”
Mr. Smith (laboring to seem in command of the sitch.) “Well I, er, um…”
“Okay I’ve chosen them, but what about Romulus Linney, Caryl Churchill, Douglas Carter Beane, Shakespeare, Moliere? Are you asking me to choose Medea over Lady M over Major Barbara over Mother Courage? Talk about Sophie’s Choice (Can I put the role of Sophie on the list?).”
1.) Fran, Promises, Promises, book by Neil Simon, music, Burt Bacharach, lyrics, Hal David. “It’s based on The Apartment, one of my all-time favorite movies (Maclaine and Lemon so beautifully human). Bacharach’s music is what I sing most in the car. Fran embodies what I love about the women I choose to play: strong, funny, fragile, and a little odd. This role is certainly a stretch for the list. I’ve never done a musical and I’m not a dancer. Therefore I nominate this choice for ‘Most Likely to Never Happen.’”
2.) Tracy Lord, The Philadelphia Story, by Philip Barry. “Written for that box office poison known as Katharine Hepburn, Philadelphia Story focuses on a bright, funny, fragile, acerbic socialite. I have an affinity for this era; there’s a certain cadence and style so quick, there is no time to ruminate over pauses. The language does the work. Women in this show are strong and funny…and incredibly stylish.”
3.) Amanda Wingfield, The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams. The role of Laura Wingfield was my ultimate ‘bucket list’ part. I was lucky enough to play her at Cygnet just a few months before my now-nearly-three-years-old daughter Eliza was born. Playing Laura alongside my great friend Rosina Reynolds’s Amanda is one of my most treasured theatrical experiences. I love how Rosina took a character so deeply embedded in literary Americana and gave her a breath of fresh air. I’d love the opportunity to try on Amanda’s shoes someday.”
4.) Masha, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. “I was introduced to Durang by my mentor DJ Sullivan. Her love of the absurd spoke to my burgeoning sensibilities and innate weirdness. Though Durang isn’t for everyone, I appreciate his clarity of voice and style. Masha is a big character, and there’s something really liberating about playing women without ceilings.”
5.) Any woman in John Patrick Shanley’s plays. “Is that cheating? I chose a monologue from Savage in Limbo to use as my audition piece when I was 15; it was inappropriate for a teenager (a 30-year old woman explaining why she is still a virgin), but I thought it edgy and smart. Shanley writes complicated, funny, flawed, wonderfully damaged characters — and the amazing thing: they have nothing in common. So Defiance, Savage in Limbo, and Danny and the Deep Blue Sea are certainly on my extended bucket list.”