BWW Interviews: Andrea McArdle and Adriane Lenox Discuss THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES
Bucks County Playhouse announced earlier this year that they would be presenting THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES with a star-studded cast. The cast includes Andrea McArdle, Adriane Lenox, Olivia Oguma and Zuzanna Szadkowski. In addition, Karen Lynn Carpenter directs the show. These multi-talented artists bring a variety of talent to the show.
The Bucks County Playhouse collaborated with A Woman's Place, the only domestic violence organization in Bucks County, for this production of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES. Ten dollars from every ticket sale will be donated to the organization. Ifeoma Aduba, the Executive Director of A Woman's Place, explains that A Woman's Place offers an array of services. They assist victims of domestic abuse, as well as prevention education. The organization's mission is "a community-based social change organization committed to the empowerment of women and to ending intimate and domestic violence for all." Aduba also illustrates that "there is an importance to the message of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES. The show helps raise awareness and people come away from the show with acknowledging shared experiences as well as recognizing violations women experience." Lastly, Aduba adds that the relationship between the Bucks County Playhouse and A Woman's Place "helps the community see that these two organizations are committed to creativity and the community."
Kelli Curtin: Who influenced you as a stage performer? Were there performers who influenced you as a child and are there ones who continue to influence you in your continuing career?
Andrea McArdle: One of the people that I have listened to throughout my life is Angela Lansbury. Specifically, her performance in musicals such as MAME. The thing with performing in musicals is that you have to have a great voice, but you also have to be able to act. Angela was successful in both those aspects in MAME. Also, as a musical influence I listen to a lot of R&B and jazz - especially Philly R&B and jazz artists.
Adriane Lenox:I have been a performer for as long as I can remember. I performed in Sunday School and church plays. The people there encouraged me to speak well. I also watched black and white movies and actors such as Carol Burnett, Loretta Young and Lucille Ball influenced me. Now, I watch Turner Classic Movies and still learn from these movies. I continue to watch really good actors and the people I worked with such as Robert DeNiro and Sandra Bullock.
Kelli Curtin: Which roles that you have played have been the most challenging? The most rewarding?
Andrea McArdle:I have played many characters such as Annie in ANNIE and Belle in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. The most challenging and the most rewarding was playing Sally Bowles in CABERET. It was a change of pace to go from playing Belle to playing the bad girl, Sally Bowles. I found playing the bad girl character rewarding.
Adriane Lenox:The most challenging for me would be MISS EVERS' BOYS. In the role I had to transform with the passage of time, and having a character that ages within the story was challenging. The most rewarding was DINAH WAS - a play about singer Dinah Washington. I played a multiple character role in that play. This was the play that people really started to recognize my various talents and me.
Kelli Curtin: What advice would you give aspiring actors today?
Andrea McArdle: Actors today have any information they want right at their hands, they can see past performances of actors online. When I was growing up we had to wait for records in the mail, and in the 70s and 80s ignorance was bliss. I didn't have the privilege of watching others preform online. The advice I would give to aspiring actors is love the theatre and love what you do, because if you enjoy performing on stage, working on stage will never feel like a job.
Adriane Lenox:Keep watching and learning. My advice to young actors is to push yourself and to aspire to be great. Also, actors today need to be versatile - so actors today should be able to do plays and musicals.
Kelli Curtin to Andrea McArdle: You have about 35 years of entertaining on stage and concerts. Is there anyone or anything you attribute your success to?
Andrea McArdle:I attribute my love of everything to my parents. I have a great relationship with my parents and I credit them with my love of music. Growing up we had two stereos in the house and on one my mother would listen to Karen Carpenter and Bert Bacharach. On the other stereo, my father would listen to jazz. All my appreciation of great music comes from them.
Kelli Curtin to Andrea McArdle: You have performed in THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES before. Is there any monologue that you prefer?
Andrea McArdle:The angry vagina.
Kelli Curtin: There are parts of the show that are very serious. Is there any time that doing this show leaves you thinking about the monologues and what it means for women?
Andrea McArdle:There are topics in this show that are still very hard for society to talk about. Our culture is full of violence, but it is still hard for many people to say the word vagina. We shouldn't feel that way, it should not still be difficult for women to say vagina in today's culture.
For me, this show is not an easy show. It is not a musical, which I am more familiar with performing in. But also, Bucks County is my old stomping grounds, so people will come see me in this show who I have not seen in a very long time. THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES is a fun show to perform in too.
Adriane Lenox: The show opens doors to talk about sexuality. It also opens a dialogue. There are parts of the show that are very heartfelt and poignant. Many women will see themselves in the story, and there are many women who still have a difficult time talking about their sexuality. This show helps women to be able to speak about their sexuality.
Kelli Curtin: In your opinion, has popularity of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES made it easier for women for talk about their sexuality?
Andrea McArdle:Absolutely. Life is like a MGM movie and THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES is like a slap of reality, which really gets people thinking.
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES plays at the Bucks County Playhouse from February 13 through February 17. For tickets call 215-862-2121, or visit www.bcptheater.org.