What Lyric Stage shows have you appeared in before? Adrianne Krstansky: Barbecue and November. Paula Plum: Too many to count, starting in 1975 when I was still in college and in one of the first Lyric Stage shows. And of course, many directed by Spiro: Death of a Salesman, Sideman, 33 Variations, Blythe Spirit.
What excites you about The Roommate? AK: I’m very excited to work with Spiro for the first time. And I’m really excited to be in a play about middle-aged women where I’m not the wife or the mom. PP: I always love Spiro’s take on gritty plays and I’m blessed to be working with Adrianne as my scene partner.
What challenges do you find in the script? AK: Robyn is challenging because she does not actually reveal anything about herself until about halfway through the play. I have to figure out how to stay open and available without being duplicitous at the same time. PP: Sharon is challenging because she seems like an open book but her intentions are hard to figure out and she’s hard to decipher. Is she naïve or is she a con?
Throughout the play, Robyn and Sharon make many discoveries about the other that change who they are. How has a roommate helped you to change? AK: I had a roommate who was the queen of the party circuit and every weekend we would have about 30-50 people in our apartment. At these parties, I would pick one or two people who I thought were cool and take them up to a crawl space in the attic. What I learned how to do as a result of that is how to become the cool, quiet person at the party.
PP: My college roommate Eve — we were roommates 4 – 5 times — helped me renew my interest in meditation. And she eats healthier. She was a good influence. I’m not sure Sharon and Robyn are necessarily a good influence on each other.
What do you and your character from The Roommate have in common? AK: I think we’re both quiet thrill seekers. We’re both unassuming enough that no one would ever suspect us of much. I would be a great spy because no one would ever suspect me of anything other than being a nice, unassuming person. PP: Iowa! My father was from there and I spent 14 summers there. And I think I’m impulsive. I am. And experimental.
What is something you hope the audience will look out for? AK: I think we tend to label relationships that we are in (love, parental, marriages, etc.) and what this play exposes is that there are relationships in our lives that are beyond definition — and that our instincts to label and put these interactions in a box actually can keep us separated from each other. PP: I hope that they’re drawn in to the mystery of this relationship. Because it’s unique — it’s about two women who really need each other.
How do you feel about working with each other? AK: I love working with Paula Plum. Working with Paula is like coming home. PP: Adrianne is so deep, real, and honest. There’s not an ounce of performance in her performance. You can always count on the truth from her.
The Roommate opens October 19th. Get your tickets today here or 617.585.5678!
The cast just got a first look at the set of The Roommate. Enjoy this sneak preview! Scenic design by Jenna McFarland Lord.
The Roommate opens October 19th
Sharon, middle-aged and recently divorced, needs a roommate to share her Iowa home. Robyn needs a place to hide and a chance to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover Robyn’s secrets while sharing music, books, and an occasional toke, she discovers a deep-seated desire to transform her own life completely. It’s a subversive, absorbing comedy about what it takes to re-route your life – and what happens when the wheels come off.
Join Kiss of the Spider Woman director and choreographer Rachel Bertone as she brings us behind the scenes into her planning, preparation, and vision for this production of Kander and Ebb’s smash musical in our very first episode of our new podcast, Lyric Off Stage!
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About Kiss of the Spider Woman
Fantasy and reality become tangled in a dark web in this smash musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the songwriting team that penned Chicago and Cabaret. Kiss of the Spider Woman revamps a harrowing tale of persecution into a dazzling spectacle that juxtaposes gritty realities with liberating fantasies. Cellmates in a Latin American prison, Valentin is a tough Argentine revolutionary and Molina is an unapologetic homosexual serving eight years for deviant behavior. Molina escapes from the terrifying reality of prison life by sharing his fantasies about a mysterious 1940s movie star who takes on the role of a Spider Woman who can kill with a kiss.
Kiss of the Spider Woman director Rachel Bertone has a history of taking incredible musicals and turning them into unmissable experiences. Here are just a few of our favorites!
Kimberly Fife, Katrina Pavao, Phil Tayler, Joy Clark and Caroline Workman in Cabaret. Photo by Sharman Altshuler.
From DigBoston’s Review of Moonbox’s production of Cabaret:
Taking on iconic material is always a risky thing, particularly something as well known and oft revived as Cabaret. But if there’s anything the 1966 masterwork has demonstrated over the years, it’s that it is not a musical resistant to reinvention. (Bob Fosse proved this with his 1972 film adaptation, as did Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall with their landmark 1998 revival). And while Moonbox Productions’ brand-new revival of Cabaret, running through April 28 at the Calderwood Pavilion, isn’t conceptually much different (they are using the 1998 version of the script, after all), it is full of such startlingly original moments that the whole experience feels brand new.
It is without an ounce of hyperbole that I say that this searing revival of Cabaret, directed and choreographed by the extraordinary Rachel Bertone, is the best theatrical production so far this year. What’s more, it’s the best Boston-born revival of a musical in recent memory.
There is hardly a scrap of this production that feels routine, which is part of the reason that it feels so fresh. Despite polite nods to the choreography of Fosse and Marshall (Those elbows! Those ankles!), the staging is new and inventive without being derivative.
With its teeming canvas, incisive character portraits, and a gem-studded score that blends hip-hop and salsa with Broadway balladry, “In the Heights’’ showcased elements of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s signature style years before he built the blockbuster “Hamilton’’ on the foundation of similar creative components.
But even though “In the Heights’’ is probably destined to be remembered as Miranda’s other musical, a full-throttle production at Wheelock Family Theatre, superbly directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone, offers a dazzling reminder that this was no mere warm-up exercise for Miranda.
We sat down with Kiss of the Spider Woman Director Rachel Bertone for the first installment of our new series: Why3, a directorial take on why this production is important, why it should be performed at the Lyric Stage, and why we should see it now.
Why this play?
We need to see more representation of queer people of color on our stages.
We need to give a voice to minority groups who are oppressed and seemingly powerless.
To show us that toxic masculinity is a learned behavior and that love and knowledge can overpower it.
To remind us that love is what we are born with, fear is what we learn, and love is the ultimate cure for fear.
Why the Lyric Stage?
Because Lyric’s mission of diversity and inclusion allows us to cast the show accurately and tell the story truthfully.
Because Lyric’s intimate space forces us to closely examine and reflect upon the challenging themes and subject matter of the play. (i.e. homophobia, toxic masculinity and discrimination)
We need this play right now because we must be able to turn to our fellow neighbor and love them despite our differences in race, gender, politics, and beliefs. We need to show compassion and empathy for everyone around us for we never truly know someone’s whole story. We must not be bystanders anymore—we must be UPstanders.