BWW Blog: Eric Ulloa of Goodspeed's THE MOST HAPPY FELLA - Mamie Parris: I'm Not That Girl
The theatrical world is extremely small. There is this preconceived notion that there are thousands of actors and that our community is massive, but when you scale it down to working actors in New York City, we are a thimble sized network of people who all somehow know or know of each other. So when an actress with the talent and resume of Mamie Parris crosses your path just now for the first time, you begin to think to yourself, "Where the hell have I been?"
Then, you sit in rehearsal and watch Mamie's "Rosabella" sing "Somebody Somewhere" and your heart melts, you promise yourself to only work with people this extraordinary and you want to write roles in new shows just for her.
Now that I've embarrassed her enough with the above paragraph, I give you my interview with our lovely "Rosabella," Mamie Parris. If you're looking for the standard info on her, I turn you towards Google where all that can be found and YouTube bootlegs of her singing "Back to Before" and "Get Out and Stay Out" that I'm now OBSESSED with. She's going to punch me in the face for that last part...
Eric Ulloa: What's your embarrassing "go to" snack after a show? Something you may not want most people to know?
Mamie Parris: If I allowed myself to eat anything after a show, I would absolutely every night go out for a burger. Eat a burger and drink a beer.
EU: What's on the burger?
MP: Um, maybe some Swiss Cheese and caramelized onions. Now, I don't allow myself to do that, but if I could that would be it.
EU: If your character, Rosabella, had a spinoff TV series after this show, what would it be called? What would it be about?
MP: (Laughs) It would probably be... (Laughs) it would be called "Modern Domesticity," and it would be all about adjusting to a rural place and doing chores and making dinner and living on a farm but still being a very modern woman in the 1950's.
EU: Would this be on HGTV?
MP: It would be more for Lifetime or Oxygen. It'd be like, big city girl and all of a sudden- what was that show that was on with Paris Hilton and they went and lived on a farm?
EU: The Simple Life?
MP: It would be a little like that, not quite as extreme, but it would be about simple life domesticity. And it would be like, "Back in San Fran, if I wanted a piece of pie, I would just go to the automat and order a piece of pie. Now I can bake pies, here's how!"
EU: What do you keep in your dressing room/dressing station?
MP: Well there's a picture of my husband and I - our wedding picture - that I always put up. There's a flask, a silver flask, with my name engraved on it from my best friend. We exchanged flasks several years ago, because we used to get nervous at auditions.
EU: And what's in this flask?
MP: Well currently it's empty, but usually I keep a little bit of bourbon in it, Bourbon or Scotch. And sometimes, you know, after a rough show or after a long two-show day or a five-show weekend, you need a little nip before you go home. Makes you feel a little bit better.
I also have a little mat that a dresser made me when I was on tour one time, and it has my name on it. Those are the big things. I have a teeny tiny elephant that sometimes comes with me. I don't know why, I like elephants and something about them reminds me of my family.
I'm a big fan of using the mirror to my utmost advantage, so I have little suction hooks and I have pictures that I can hang of my mom and my dad. And you'll always find me with dry erase markers because I like to make little notes to myself on the mirror: something to remember, a note the directors given me, or "don't forget to take your hat in Act 2."
EU: You like to stare at your failures of the day before, huh?
MP: Exactly. That way it's always right there in front of me.
EU: Tell me your most embarrassing moment onstage?
MP: I was doing Legally Blonde, and I had been on for several shows in a row as Paulette the hairdresser, I was an understudy. My first day back in my usual track - I was in the ensemble - but my first day back I go through the whole show and I'm back in my track and it gets to the finale. And the finale is long and there's a lot of traffic and there's a golf cart, you know? And I guess I just went on auto pilot, and there's this big moment where we all change directions and yada yada yada, and all of a sudden I'm dancing and I'm dancing and I look up and I'm on the complete wrong side of the stage. I'm over on the "Paulette" side of the stage. So for the next eight bars I have to slyly work my way back to the other side of the stage and everyone onstage just stifling laughter watching me.
EU: You're just living in your own show
MP: The COMPLETELY wrong side of the stage. Committed. Strong and wrong.
EU: So these next questions are rapid fire, so I need the first thing that comes to your mind-
MP: Chocolate! ...Beer!
EU: Well, I haven't said anything yet... so here we go for real. What's the first thing you think of when you hear...
MP: Theatre. Wow, that's bad. (Laughs) I'm not very creative.
EU: I'll give you a re-do. Goodspeed?
MP: The Most Happy Fella playing September 20th to December 1st, get your tickets now! Is that better? (Laughs)
EU: You just secured yourself a place here next season.
EU: Tech Rehearsals?
MP: Funnnnnnn...they're not. (Laughs)
EU: If you could play any male role in the musical theatre canon, what would it be and why?
MP: This is really difficult, that's not something you ever think about, right?
I mean, probably it would be Coalhouse Walker Jr. from Ragtime. Oh! Also Usnavi in In the Heights would be really fun!
C'mon, it would be a blast!
***Please see the photo below and sing to yourself... "One of these things is not like the other."
I hope you enjoyed getting a little closer...not that close, or we'll push a restraining order...to Mamie Parris.
Look for my end of week edition to fill you in on everything else that has been going on in the "bustling" (notice the quotes) town of East Haddam and over in the rehearsal hall.
These are our final days in the studio before we head into the theatre and start technical rehearsal, now where's that bottle of wine?