BWW Interview: Joy Dolo of SNOW WHITE at Children's Theatre Company
A two-person cast may just be the hardest working in the Twin Cities currently. Actors Joy Dolo and Dean Holt play all 14 characters of the children's fairy tale, SNOW WHITE, in The Children's Theatre Company through Dec. 8 on the Cargill thrust stage. Surrounded on three sides by children, parents and other adults who are at times part of the action, Dolo and Holt are receiving praise from those audiences and critics alike for the high energy performances and unique storytelling.
Dolo provides some insight into the process of creating these many characters and telling her story in this 6 Questions & a Plug:
This version of Snow White was quite different than what many are used to (and was based on the original Grimm fairytale). How did you think of Snow White as a character and what did you think about playing her and so many other parts?
I think Snow White represents the trusting curious person inside all of us. Her natural ease around trusting the dwarfs and her stepmother is admirable. We have grown so weary of opening ourselves up to people, and Snow White does it willingly and lovingly, even to her own demise. Playing her, it was easy to contrast the other characters, especially her Stepmother, who has completely opposite values, status, and morals.
Can you talk a bit about the process of doing this show-- was it all scripted or did you and Dean Holt improv any of it during rehearsals
The play is scripted. Once Dean and I were familiar with the text, we would improvise a line once in a while. When it's only two people playing 14 characters, and the language is repetitive, it's challenging to improvise too much and bring the focus back to the story. Parts may feel improvised with the swift costume changes and asides that we have accrued, but trust me, this is a well oiled machine!
How do you keep track of which character, costume piece and voice to use when you're changing characters so swiftly?
Lots of rehearsal! We spent 5 weeks working on this play and discovering the most seamless way to get through each moment. Each character has a voice, costume, and physical attribute that helps us keep things straight.
The Children's Theatre audiences are kids being kids -- which is a wonderful thing but does it take a lot to get used to them talking back to you, getting up during the show, yelling, "Don't do it!" when the Prince goes to kiss you?
Actually, that is my favorite part of doing Children's Theatre shows! Little ones experience excitement in so many ways. Our society dictates that we witness Theater in a demure way. But I love nothing more than looking them in the eyes, asking them to come on this journey with me. When they talk back to me during the show, I know they're coming along!
You have a background in doing improv and are a founder of Blackout. How did you get your start in acting and improv -- what made you want to go into a career performing?
I started acting in middle school and once I got the bug, I majored in Theatre in college. Improv kind of fell in my lap through a show that needed a performer. I literally learned improv while performing improv. Which was wonderfully terrifying. I wanted this career in performing because I felt compelled to tell stories. I love living inside a character and exploring their highs and lows. And I love being able to tell those stories from my unique point of view.
This story has its own "happily ever after" -- what is the lesson you hope audience members draw from this show?
That you have the power to tell your own story.
Plug -- this show closes Dec. 8 (folks, go see it now!) -- so, Joy, what's next for you on stage or off?
Tampa, Florida with my hubster! And then I'm working on Twelfth Night at the Guthrie with the dreamiest cast. And then various projects with Luverne Seifert and Sod House Theater! 2020 is going to be lit!
More: See SNOW WHITE through Dec. 8. https://www.childrenstheatre.org/plays/2019-2020-season/snow-white
Photo: Joy Dolo, provided by the actor