BWW Interview: Joely Fisher Thrilled To Be On Stage Again - This Time As Andy Garcia's Moll in KEY LARGO
The world premiere adaptation of KEY LARGO, already in previews, will open tonight, November 14, 2019 at The Geffen Playhouse. Packed with award winners all around, Oscar nominated actor Andy Garcia stars as Johnny Rocco in his co-adaptation with Jeffrey Hatcher (based on the play by Maxwell Anderson and the screenplay by Richard Brooks and John Huston). Tony Award winner Doug Hughes directs with original music composed by 10-time Grammy Award winner and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Arturo Sandoval. Cast, filled with familiar faces of television, film and theatre, include: Stephen Borrello, Joely Fisher, Rose McIver, Louis Mustillo, Danny Pino, Tony Plana, Richard Riehle and Bradley Snedeker.
I had the wonderful opportunity to grill Johnny Rocco's moll Gaye Dawn, or rather, to ask a few questions of the wonderful actress who plays her - Joely Fisher.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Joely!
You have been regularly busy working in film and television. What was it about this production of KEY LARGO that enticed you to take on the role of Gaye Dawn?
I mean... how could I refuse? I was on a quick trip to New York City with my daughters, and I received a delicious email followed by a call with this incredible offer to join the company of KEY LARGO opposite Andy Garcia. I ain't doin' it for the money.
Have you worked with any of the KEY LARGO cast or creatives before?
These are all new people for me. As the names of cast members started rolling in, my excitement grew. The very idea of working with Doug Hughes thrilled me as well. I did a revue many years ago in this theater, and the idea of returning to this space was tantalizing as well.
This is a daring reimagining of the original play and the film. The amalgamation works well for a revival. Jeffrey Hatcher and Andy have adapted it brilliantly. I realized I hadn't seen the movie and decided not to watch the whole thing - I wanted to find Gaye Dawn without the pressure of an Oscar-winning performance looming and imbuing my portrayal.
In the film, Clare Trevor as ex-singer Gaye Dawn sang. Can Geffen audiences look forward to hearing you sing?
You'll have to come see!
Will you be singing an original piece by Arturo Sandoval? Or a 1940s standard?
Again, you'll have to come see!
If you were to list Gaye Dawn's qualities on a dating website, what would you include?
Gaye Dawn: 5'7, voluptuous, spontaneous, Scorpio, life of the party. Loves with abandon. Enjoys horse racing and Scotch.
What flaws of Gaye would you deliberately omit?
What characteristics of Gaye would you say you can easily identify with?
We have the same bra size.
In your headshot that the Geffen is using of you (which was also the cover photo of your book Growing Up Fisher, I see an inked written phrase on your forearm. What does it say, and what was its significance in getting this particular tattoo?
My tattoo is the word "family" in seven languages (the one you can see - there are others!) I lead life with the idea of family. I included languages of my lineage, my relationships, past lives, and some I speak.
You made your Broadway debut in GREASE in 1994. But you were already a veteran of stage performing having appeared on stage with your mom in her shows. What do you remember of the first time you and your sister Tricia sang with Connie Stevens on stage?
I remember not wanting to get off the stage. EVER.
What fun memories do you have of being Miss Golden Globe in 1992?
My dress was made for me. A little tight made walking across the stage carrying trophies a bit arduous. Besides that, I was honored that the Hollywood Foreign Press took notice.
You are a part of Hollywood Royalty. I saw your half-sister Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking at the Geffen in 2006. I'll never forget her observation that her/your father Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor were the Brad and Angelina of their time (with Debbie Reynolds as Jennifer). I couldn't stop laughing. That was some show! Was there anything Carrie said in her show that was news to you? Or was everything 'no big deal' to you?
I am both inspired and melancholy to be gracing the stage where Wishful Drinking first took flight. I knew all of the stories, but I remember feeling proud to sit along with Tricia Leigh and Billie - feeling I was part-princess.
Have you ever covered any of your father's songs?
I haven't yet. I am cooking up a very cool video that has the Natalie/Nat King Cole vibe.
What's is your favorite song of your father's?
"Wish You Were Here"... no. "Anytime"... no. "Sunrise Sunset"...not. "Oh! My Pa-Pa."
Your book Growing Up Fisher morphed into a theatrical piece you've performed at various cabarets in 2017. Do you have plans to reprising your show in the near future?
I have been touring a bit. Just returned in September, here in Los Angeles, to the stage with new stories and songs. Really trying to get to an off-Broadway run or perhaps bring it to the Geffen - who knows.
Is there another book you're thinking of writing?
My dream... to share my photography in a book with accompanying stories, of course.
Any other projects you have on your full plate you can share with us?
I have really found this experience - so far - to be one of education. I have been cracked wide open. To work with the generosity and talent of this group is humbling. Everyone brings their A Game every day. Finding the brokenness and vulnerability of the character, I've been able to take an incredible leap with trust - like a trapeze artist. Gaye Dawn is complex and flawed and a gift. Next up, directly, an off-Broadway production of Frances Ruffelle's show and brand-new play. A feature that I've written, and hopefully, someone will offer me a cushy television job to pay the bills.
Thank you again, Joely! I look forward to meeting your Gaye Dawn.
For ticket availability and show schedule through December 10, 2019; log onto www.geffenplayhouse.org