BWW Interviews: Maine Native to Star at The Arundel Barn Playhouse
For Chrissy Albanese, it is a far cry from her first theater experiences at Gorham High School, the Windham Center Stage Theater and the Schoolhouse Arts Center, to the stage of one of Maine's best loved summer theaters, Arundel Barn Playhouse. She's performed there three times before, mostly in ensemble roles. This summer she's about to tackle her first lead role as Eliza Dolittle in Lerner & Lowe's highly popular, My Fair Lady.
As a native of Gorham, Maine where her parents run a dental practice, her first acting roles were in southern Maine high school and community theater productions. She's studied acting and vocal technique while gaining dance experience in Jazz, Tap, Ballet and even Hip Hop. Her credits include the Gorham Chamber Singers and work done at Dance Studio Maine and Portland Ballet.
She went on to study musical theater at New York University graduating in 2013. She currently lives in Harlem, New York and regularly performs at Ellen's Stardust Diner, a 1950s theme restaurant in Times Square filled with nostalgic memorabilia and known for its talented singing waiters.
For her lead role as Eliza, Albanese will have a concentrated two weeks of rehearsal.
"It looks like we will put the whole show together in a week and then run it for a week before opening," she said in a telephone interview as she was about to attend the first full rehearsal. "I'm a bit nervous, but this is a role I've idolized and dreamed about doing since I was eight years old."
She loves performing in Maine, once again, anticipating that friends and family will see the upcoming production. "There are many people in the area who will see the show," said Albanese. "I even have relatives from Florida who are coming up to see it."
She admits that she's always enjoyed seeing shows at the nearby Ogunquit Playhouse and she'd like to see the production of Billy Elliot there if time allows. "I'd also like to see Mary Poppins," she said, noting that a friend will be in that production.
My Fair Lady opens on July 15 and runs through August 2 in one of the most unique summer theater barn/playhouses in all of Maine. The Arundel Barn Playhouse is a handsome farm and barn built by the William E. Smith Family who remained in the homestead for over 100 years until it was renovated as a theater.
Adrienne Grant, the Producing Artistic Director, describes the experience of the Arundel Barn Playhouse as, "an evening in the Mickey Rooney / Judy Garland tradition providing the best professional entertainment in a beautiful New England environment with old-fashioned hospitality."
My Fair Lady is a family-friendly musical about Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl who becomes an elegant lady under the guidance of the rather pompous, Professor Harold Higgins. The musical first opened in 1956 and is highly regarded for its witty dialogue, elegant choreography and a memorable score with songs like "I Could Have Danced All Night," "A Little Bit Of Luck," "On The Street Where You Live" and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly!"
When the show is over, Albanese will return to her work in the New York City area. She has an agent and continues to make the rounds of auditions for musical theater roles.
"It is considered flashy to be working in musicals," said Albanese, thankful for the work it provides. "I'm also interested in exploring straight theater and seeing what other opportunities I may find."
For information or tickets for My Fair Lady or other shows at the Arundel Barn Playhouse, go to www.arundelbarnplayhouse.com.