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BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Naomi Jacobson

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Naomi Jacobson
Naomi Jacobson

Today's subject Naomi Jacobson is currently living her theatre life onstage at Studio Theatre in their superb world premiere production of The Remains. The show runs through June 24th in the company's Mead Theatre space.

Despite Naomi being one of the top actresses in the area and working at pretty much every large theatre in town, The Remains marks her Studio Theatre debut. It was worth the wait.

Naomi's credits demonstrate her exceptional versatility. Everything from the classics to new plays to musicals is represented in her body of work.

A few of the many memorable performances you might remember include Becoming Dr. Ruth and Another Way Home at Theater J, Mary T. & Lizzy K. at Arena Stage, Henry VIII at Folger Theatre, Dead Man's Cell Phone at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Cabaret and Silver Belles at Signature Theatre, Caroline or Change and The Lyons at Round House Theatre, State of the Union at Ford's Theatre, and Henry IV Part 2 and The Critic and The Real Inspector Hound at Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Regionally Naomi has graced the stages of Baltimore's Centerstage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Goodman Theatre in Chicago, and Arizona Theatre Company.

She is married to another fine area actor, John Lescault.

The Remains is not your typical family drama. That is but one reason I suggest you go see it. Naomi Jacobson finally onstage at Studio Theatre is definitely a big plus. Naomi Jacobson onstage period is a big plus. Check out The Remains at Studio Theatre and see for yourself.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Naomi Jacobson
Naomi Jacobson and Kyle Prue in Life During Wartime. This was Naomi's first show at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company back in 1992. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Were you a theatre kid growing up?

I knew I wanted to do theatre at age five, but wasn't able to until I took theatre electives in school. My first show was at age eleven. I did shows with my sister. She was the lead and I did all the supporting roles.

Where did you receive your training?

I started at University of California San Diego then onto Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts and Temple University for my MFA.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Naomi Jacobson
L-R Naomi Jacobson, Maulik Pancholy, Glenn Fitzgerald, and Greg Mullavey in Studio Theatre's production of The Remains. Photo by Wilson Chin.

Can you please tell us a little something about The Remains and your character, specifically?

It is a family story. A couple married for ten years gathers the family to say they are getting divorced. It is based on the first gay couple in New York State to be legally married. I play Trish, one of the men's mothers. She is a theatre critic for the Boston Globe and is very invested in her son's marriage and does everything possible to stop divorce.

There is usually something that attracts performers to a project. What was it about The Remains that did it for you?

There were three things:

1. I loved the play from the minute I read it. It is so smart and funny.

2. David Muse was the director. I had been directed by him before. He's very collaborative.

3. I was very excited about working at Studio Theatre. This is my first time performing there.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Naomi Jacobson
Naomi Jacobson in Theater J's production of Becoming Dr. Ruth. Photo by Teresa Wood.

You recently completed a tour-de-force solo performance at Theater J in Becoming Dr. Ruth. How much did you know about her going into that show and was there anything that you were surprised to learn about her as you got deeper into the project?

I was surprised by a lot. I only knew her public personae from her appearances on TV. I read a number of her books. The book about sexuality and the Bible was one of them. My concern was that I only knew her as a character. I was amazed by her philosophy of life. It was a true honor to play her and to meet her in person.

You are married to the fine actor John Lescault. Does being married to someone in the same profession as you make it easier to come home after a rough day at rehearsal?

Yes. It's a gift because he understands the process, the cost, and its physiological tolls. I love it when we get to work together because I totally trust him. He has great ideas if I'm stuck. It's brilliant.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Naomi Jacobson
Rick Foucheux and Naomi Jacobson in Signature Theatre's production of Cabaret. Photo by Margot Schulman.

You performed in two musicals at Signature Theatre - Cabaret and Silver Belles. Were those your first forays into musical theatre? If yes, would you do another musical if the opportunity presented itself?

I did musicals all the way through college, but I knew I couldn't compete professionally. When [Director] Matthew Gardiner cast me in Cabaret I hadn't done one since then. Matt and Eric Schaeffer [Artistic Director of Signature Theatre] were very patient with me. I'd forgotten about pausing for applause after a song. LOL!

If I thought I was the weak link I wouldn't do another musical. If I thought the show was something I could handle then absolutely yes!!

What are some of your favorite productions from here in DC and elsewhere?

The Unmentionables, The Vigils, and Dead Funny at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Cabaret at Signature Theatre, The Lyons at Round House Theatre, and every Shakespeare I've ever performed. Out of town would be Pericles at Goodman Theatre.

What would you say is the biggest change in DC theatre since you first started performing here?

There has been an explosion of new theatres. It doesn't look anything like it did when I got here. Smaller theatres couldn't hire union actors back then. There are more professional theatres now. The level of talent has increased as well. Now people stay to work in DC. It's become a destination city for theatre.

I'm guessing The Remains ends the 17/18 season for you work-wise. What does the 18/19 season hold in store for you?

The only one I can say is Born Yesterday at Ford's Theatre, but stay tuned.

Special thanks to Mike Fila at Bucklesweet Media for his assistance in coordinating this interview.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.

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