BWW Interview: Jennifer Robbins in HITLERS TASTERS at Centenary Stage
Centenary Stage Company at the Lackland Performing Arts Center in Hackettstown is currently presenting Hitler's Tasters through Sunday April 22. The show is written by Michelle Kholos Brooks and directed by Sarah Norris.
The play is inspired by a true story. Three times a day, every day, a group of young women have the opportunity to die for their country. They are Adolph Hitler's food tasters. And what do girls discuss as they wait to see if they will live through another meal? Like all girls, throughout time, they gossip and dream, they question, and dance. They want to love, laugh, and above all they want to survive.
Hitler's Tasters marks Jennifer Robbins' Centenary debut. She has appeared Off-Broadway in 'Stiff' and multiple incarnations of the original musical 'Dear Prospective Student.' Favorite NJ credits include 'Rabbit Hole,' 'Collected Stories,' and 'Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.' She is a company member at the company Theater Group.
Broadwayworld NJ had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Robbins about her budding career as an actress and her role in Hitler's Tasters.
When did you first realize your penchant for theatre?
I always knew that it was something I wanted to do. I would see shows on Broadway and leave thinking, "I need to do that!" It took me a long time to get started because I was a very shy kid with a lot of insecurities and I was afraid to put myself out there in that way. Once I got to college I finally took a chance and auditioned for a play. As soon as I did that first show- that was it! I knew this was the thing I loved most. I graduated with a degree in Theater and moved to New York to pursue this professionally.
What advice do you have for other young actors who are interested in the profession?
Well I am still navigating this crazy profession myself, but I would say that if you are absolutely sure that acting is the only thing in the world for you- and you must be sure of that- just don't give up. The simple truth of choosing this profession is: it's not easy. I certainly have felt knocked down by the industry, but then a show like this comes along and reminds me why I do this. Keep going, keep fighting, keep hustling- if you are passionate and hardworking eventually the opportunities will start opening up and the feeling of getting the chance to do what you love makes it all worth it.
Tell us a little about the troupe you are apart of, Company Theater Group.
the company has been a safe place and a place I can call home in this industry. It is located in Hackensack, NJ in their beautiful new home at The Hackensack Cultural Arts Center. They create beautiful, honest work and I feel so lucky to have been a small part of that. Their next production is The Underpants by Steve Martin opening 4/21. Please go support them!
What have been some of the challenges of performing your role in Hitler's Tasters?
This play has been so exciting to work on! Going into it, I thought the biggest challenge would just be putting myself in the mindset of my character who is one of Hitler's tasters. Three times a day she has to eat the food he will be served to make sure it is not poisoned. Michelle Kholos Brooks has created such a beautiful, complex play that it ended up being more than I ever could have imagined. The play highlights four young women trying to navigate living in Nazi Germany at the same time as they are navigating what it's like to be a young woman. They are no different than young women today- they like to gossip about boys, and they dance and laugh despite the horrible situation they are all in. Finding the balance between the horror of their situation and the joy and innocence of being a young woman was a challenge that we worked through together with the guiding hand of our amazing director, Sarah Norris. That's what makes this play so unique- yes it is a play about World War II, but it is also a truly human story that hasn't been told before.
How is your role different than any you have played in the past?
I feel a sense of responsibility that I haven't felt in the past. This play is extremely important. We are telling a story that we hope will open up people's eyes and start conversations about the world we are living in today. It is so thrilling as an actor to be a part of something that can affect change. This is what theater is supposed to do and it is an honor to be a part of it.
How do you like working at Centenary Stage?
It has just been an absolute joy. First of all, the entirety of the team that was in the rehearsal room leading up to tech was female. It was so special to be surrounded everyday by these beautiful, strong, intelligent, talented women. I could go on and on- the uniqueness of this opportunity is not lost on me and I am so grateful. Centenary has such a talented team of artists working to create really beautiful work and I hope people come out to support this show and all future productions!
Follow Jennifer Robbins on Instagram @JHRobs
Hitler's Tasters runs through April 22 in the Kutz Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center. Performance dates are; Fridays April 13 and 20 at 8pm; Saturdays April 14 and 21 at 8pm; Sundays April 15 and 22 at 2pm; Wednesdays, April 11 and 18 at 2pm and Thursdays, April 12 and 19 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $27.50 for adults on matinee performances and Friday evening performances and $29.50 for adults on Saturday evening performances. Check their web site or call the box office for special offers. Visit http://www.centenarystageco.org/hitlers-tasters.php or call (908) 979 - 0900.