BWW Interviews: HOLLY ALLEN Tackles Today's FRIDAY FIVE

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Inspired by BroadwayWorld.com's Friday Six, welcome to Nashville.BroadwayWorld.com's latest installment of The Friday Five: five questions designed to help you learn more about the talented people you'll find onstage throughout the Volunteer state.

Today, the spotlight falls upon Holly Allen, who is currently playing the lead in Lipscomb University Theatre's production of Tina Howe's Pride's Crossing (running at the Shamblin Theatre through April 7).

"I am playing Mabel, the role Cherry Jones originated at The Old Globe and then went on to play at the Lincoln Center on Broadway in the late '90s," she explains. "It is the one of the most challenging roles I have ever had the chance to work on and I hope people will come see it."

Come see it they will: This weekend, Tina Howe herself will be on the Lipscomb campus for a variety of appearances including a dinner in her honor tonight, a talkback after tonight's performance (Friday, March 30), and she'll work closely with Lipscomb student actors tomorrow.

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For Holly, the chance to play Howe's heroine offers quite the acting challenge, but she's clearly up to the task (here's some insider info for you: I directed Holly in her first Nashville role, as Lala in Alfred Uhry's The Last Night of Ballyhoo…a long time ago…she was luminous, transcendent and extraordinary). That's her, pictured at left, lying on the rug faking a faint to get out of going on a date to "the last night of Ballyhoo."

Find out what makes Holly tick in today's installment of The Friday Five and then go to Lipscomb's Shamblin Theatre this weekend and next to see her and an all-star Nashville cast in Tina Howe's Pride's Crossing

 What was your first "live onstage" taste of theater? I played Frosty the Snowman in my kindergarten Christmas play. They auditioned boys for it first...I guess because of the "man" part in Snowman...but the teacher wasn't happy with any of the boys and so she let me audition for it. And the rest is history. Crazy that my first role was a male role, you'd think they wouldn't allow that in public elementary school in 1975, although she did let me keep my pigtails. She must have been a progressive teacher. And thank goodness too because I have gone on to play many a male role since then...all that prep as a five-year-old! Wait a second…that may explain a lot of things...I think I may need to journal about this.

What is your favorite pre-show ritual?   I wish I had something clever to say for this one.  Like standing on my head while blowing bubbles or taking a few sips from a flask, but alas...I don't.  My ritual depends on the role.  Sometimes I like to go sit in the house before the doors are open and look at the stage for a few minutes.  It sort of connects me to the audience in a way that reminds me I am there to share this experience with them. 

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? In Parallel Lives that I did with Street Theatre in 2009 (and getting ready to remount this summer) there is a sketch/scene where I had to pantomime a whole ritual of getting ready in the morning from shower to dressed and everything in between that is timed perfectly to music-Symphony C: IV Finale to be exact. Literally every note is matched with a physical action in the piece and one night the music cut out while I was "drying my hair." I still had about two minutes left in the piece to go. The director thought that perhaps I would just skip to the end, but no...I had to finish the whole damn thing, honestly because I didn't know what else to do. I also fell off the stage during another performance of the same show...thank God both those things didn't happen on the same night!  

What's your dream role? Lady Macbeth. No question.  

Who's your theatrical crush? jeff carr, Jon Royal, Bakari King and Eddie George...you may notice a theme here...it's okay, Lauren knows. 

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.


 
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