Vicki Oceguera Stars in FACT Productions' A MERMAID'S TALE, Saturdays at the Triad
In a time where some theatre companies are struggling to produce even one show and many actors are- as actors often are- spending more time doing other things than acting, there is one theatre and company and an actress that are both incredibly busy. It seemed worthwhile to see what these two are doing to keep so busy and how their paths came to cross.
FACT Theatre (Friends Always Creating Theatre) enters its fourth year finding itself dubbed the “Busiest Off-Off Broadway Theatre” and it now has a show Off-Broadway as well, A Mermaid’s Tale at the Triad Theatre. Ironically, FACT hired Vicki Oceguera, who is currently featured in three different productions around New York City – making her one of the busiest working actresses around.
Jack Dyville, co-producer and founder of FACT with David Gillam Fuller explained why FACT earned this title: "This is FACT’s very first Off-Broadway transfer. 'A MERMAIDS’ TALE' is by me and John Stutte and it opened on September 15th at the Triad. The full-length show premiered at The Great Room – ART/NY in March of 2012 and then moved from there to Long Island City’s ‘Secret Theatre’ from April-June. Also, FACT’s new season of WORDS & WINE, a monthly short play reading series – and wine, gets underway on SUNDAY SEPT 23 at THE HOURGLASS TAVERN, which is at 373 W. 46th Street on the 3rd Floor. This features six new 10 Minute plays by Sheila Mart, Bill Kozy & Zach Rothman Hicks and I. The Hourglass Tavern has hosted FACT’s January Reading of “An Umbrella in the Snow”, which is also poised to move Off Broadway. In addition, due to the productive relationship with The Hourglass, ART/New York on Monday Evening SEPTEMBER 24, will be honoring Friends Always Creating Theatre & Hourglass at their annual meeting being held at PERSHING SQUARE Signature Theatre on 42nd Streets on Theatre Row."
While this in itself seems like quite a lineup in reality FACT officially opens their 4th Season of full productions with PICK SIX – six of the best short plays from the previous season’s Words and Wine fully staged on Saturday September 29 @ 8:00pm and Sunday September 30 at 2:30pm and 4:30pm at Roy Aris Theatre. Jack explained that FACT is a membership company and that this production features many FACT Members including Lynn Manuell, Gus Ferraro, David Gillam Fuller, Bill Kozy, Madalyn McKay, Jamesaii Schempp, Julia Bernal, Betty Hudson, Jack DeLorenzo, Angel Vail and others. To reserve tickets one can go to Fact.Reservations@gmail.com or on the Box Office online at Smarttix.
Having now established why FACT is considered one of the busiest producers I wanted to find out how they came upon one of the busiest actresses to star in A Mermaids Tale.
When asked if she sought out FACT or is she auditioned Vicki Oceguera explained “Oh, it was through an audition. I saw the audition for A Mermaid’s Tale in Backstage, I submitted for it and came in. I remember the first meeting David (Fuller) was outside being the monitor, and I remember him being the friendliest person I ever met and talking about FACT and what a great group it is. As soon as I walked in the room Heather Edwards was playing the piano and Jack Dyville was casting – both were super nice and I really wanted to be a part of it.”
When asked what she is doing currently Vicki answers, "I am in three productions right now including A Mermaid’s Tale and basically I kind of lucked into everything that I’ve be cast in. I feel happy to have been in all three productions of A Mermaid’s Tale and being in three different theatres and seeing how the show has gotten to grow. I’ve been with Honestly Abe for the last year off-Broadway at the Actor’s Temple. That show is also fun because I play two different roles. It’s been kind of good to look at your schedule and say, 'Who am I playing today?' It’s kind of a nice challenge to have as an actor. I am also in rehearsals for Geeks, the Musical which opens downtown in the beginning of October."
Vicki explains “I have kind of a crazy day where I wake up early and I go to auditions, and then I work mid-day and then I rehearse in the evenings or perform. So far it has been able to work out really great because Mermaid’s is only on Saturday days, and Honestly Abe is only on Friday days and Sunday days and then Geeks is going to be in the evenings."
The closest comparison to this I have heard of was Elaine Stritch’s story in At Liberty where she is understudy for Ethel Merman and gets the big novelty number Zip at the end of a different Broadway show. All is well, as both are supposed to run only in New York and Ethel Merman is never out. She then learns the new show is trying out in Connecticut and finds herself running back and forth even in feet of snow. So far Vicki has not had any transport or weather difficulties because somehow all of these shows piece together like a puzzle to make up her schedule.
One must wonder how long Vicki has been auditioning and what sort of training she had to accomplish this. "I’ve been auditioning professionally for five years," she explained. "I moved to New York seven years ago and spent two years going to the American Music and Dramatic Academy. I came out from California near San Francisco and I did a lot of community theatre when I was younger and plays in college and I wound up here."
Jack Dyville said he used GLEE as an inspiration for the play within a school situation in A Mermaid’s Tale and hearing Vicki speak of moving from California to New York to go to AMDA conjures up more than a little comparison to the recent premiere of GLEE, so one has to ask if she sees herself as a Rachel Berry type. "Yeah, I always feel that life itself should be like a musical so I always imagine myself in episodes of GLEE. I love that show and I love how Mermaid’s Tale relates to that and brings in current events and things of our culture that kids can get really excited about."
"I also love children’s theatre because children are the most honest audience you will ever have. You know you’re doing a good job if a child laughs and you know you’re doing a bad job if there’s no reaction or they’re really bored so I love working with kids and they are my favorite audience."
When describing her role Vicki is effusive: "I love my character of Trot. She is wonderful because she is so adventurous and outgoing and just loves life and I wish I could be like that every moment of every day, so excited about things all of the time. I really look up to that character in A Mermaid’s Tale."
One must wonder how different all of these characters Vicki inhabits weekly are from each other. She actually laughs at the thought. "They are very different. I have to say Trot is my favorite because I just love how bold she is and that she wants to steal the scene at every moment. In Honestly Abe I play Sally Lincoln, so I play Abe Lincoln’s sister who dies in childbirth, which is pretty dramatic, but she has that same sense of loving life. It’s more of a calm, earthy older sister role. In the Geeks musical I’m a really geeky girl at Comicon who is really socially awkward. It’s really fun to do for comedy but I really love to do A Mermaid’s Tale a lot because of the energy of the role."
It seems Vicki could feel a bit like Sybil. Despite this hectic schedule she says she would love to work with FACT again. Given the ambition of both the theatre company and the actress this seems an association destined to happen.
A Mermaid’s Tale plays at THE TRIAD THEATRE, 158 W. 72nd Street, NYC for an Open-End Run playing each SATURDAY @ 3:00pm. Discount Tix available on-line at www.TDF.com or 24/7 secure phone at Brown Paper Tickets 1-800-838-3006.
Story by Lynn Manuell