Polly Draper Talks MY BRILLIANT DIVORCE at Bay Street Theatre
This summer, Bay Street Theatre had the pleasure to open its 2012 Mainstage season with Polly Draper starring in My Brilliant Divorce by Geraldine Aron. Audiences may remember Draper from her hit show "thirtysomething" which ran in the late 1980s into the early 1990s. Since her stint as Ellen on the groundbreaking show for which she received an Emmy nomination, Draper has maintained a busy life in the entertainment world.
Draper developed her love for acting as a child, where she and her family would make home movies. Her favorite, which included the entire neighborhood was called "Murder on Draper Lane". Since then she has made show business her career, appearing in over fifty plays on and off Broadway, and in an equal amount of films and television projects. Some of which she has written, produced, and directed.
Now, Draper stars in the one woman stage play My Brilliant Divorce at the Bay Street Theatre. The play focuses on a woman who is left by her husband after an unknown affair. For many Draper, who married musician and former bandleader of "The Arsenio Hall Show", Michael Wolff, is the furthest thing from a struggling divorcee. Yet, Draper has had her own share of personal experiences after a previous marriage at a young age that ended in divorce.
"This is a story about a woman finding her power and coming into her own," says the actress. The play's heroine Angela acts out the people in her life to relate them to an audience, a habit that Draper admits to having herself. The show is full of incredible characters with accents and quirks that Draper masters wonderfully due to her training at Yale University and Yale Drama School.
From this training Draper made a name for herself as an actress, writer, and director. In one of her most noted projects, she created, produced, and directed her sons Nat and Alex Wolff in "The Naked Brothers Band" the hit Nickelodeon television series and movie of the same title. Draper won many awards for both the series and movie including a Writer's Guild award. Both Draper and her husband try to instill the value of rehearsal and practice in their young stars. For instance, dad Michael keeps the boys in piano lessons and ear training, while mom Polly helps to prepare them for auditions.
Draper and Wolff make a solid team after meeting years ago on set of "The Arsenio Hall Show". The two met while in the hair and make-up trailer with what Draper describes as "huge 80's hair". The couple has teamed together several times, including in the production of Draper's movie "The Tic Code" written, produced, and starring the actress and Gregory Hines. Wolff also scored the film loosely based on his experiences as a jazz musician. The film won awards in thirteen film festivals including The Hamptons and has maintained popularity. It showcases a musician with Tourette's syndrome, just as Draper's husband has in real life. The film became a way to expose the disorder and helped Wolff to advocate and become a member of the Board of Directors for the Tourette Syndrome Association.
The act of giving back has been rooted into the Draper/Wolff family, as sons Nat and Alex got their start as a band by organizing a fundraiser for their neighborhood Fire Department in New York City post September eleventh. Together with the help of their band from preschool, the boys raised $45,000. Eventually with their parents' support, The Naked Brothers Band had international success. Currently, Nat and Alex Wolff are busy working on individual film projects and their fourth album, while Draper wrote and will direct a film with producer Fred Roos.
My Brilliant Divorce runs at Bay Street Theatre through June 24. For tickets contact the Box Office at 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org. The Box Office is open Monday through Saturday at 11am until show time and on Sundays, 3pm until showtime.
Bay Street Theatre is a not-for-profit institution presenting new, classic and contemporary works with a commitment to challenging and entertaining our diverse community. This commitment extends to educational programs for all ages to foster the continued value of theatre as a vital art form for future generations.
Photo by Jerry Lamonica
Interview and story by Mimi Draft