I’m asking veteran local actors to name five dream roles and say why. The answers not only reveal aspirations, they may put an idea in the minds of artistic directors and producers — even some choices that might seem outside the box.
“This is quite an exercise, hard to zero in. I’ve been pretty fortunate to play a lot of really wonderful roles here in San Diego. There are of course the roles that got away, too late to think of them now. So here are five I’d love to do.”
1.) Mrs. Prentice, What The Butler Saw, by Joe Orton. “Orton has always been a favorite of mine. He was irreverent. He captured true British farce — and then put a really black spin of danger on everything. Butler is savage farce, and Mrs. Prentice is without apology an irredeemable character... outrageous, rapacious, truly funny.”
2.) Volumina, Coriolanus, by William Shakespeare. “I like this play. I appreciate that Coriolanus is a very flawed man, raised to be a great soldier and tragically pushed into a political career by Volumina, his ambitious mother. I’d love to explore her uncompromising patriotism, still resonant today, her power over him, and ultimately her unwitting destruction of her son to save her beloved Rome.”
3.) Linda Loman, Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller. “He’s a very important American writer. Death of a Salesman is masterful. It resonates as much now, in our era of one-percenters and outsourcing, as it did when Miller wrote it. Linda Loman is a woman fighting for her life...Willie. To find that fierce protective love for him and to lose that would be wonderful to explore.”
4.) Madame Ranevskaya, The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov. “I really want to tackle Chekhov! I think producers have become afraid of him. Has he become too much of a challenge? So many theories…I would love the chance. Madame Ranevskaya and her brother Leonid have never really left the nursery they once shared. Now she’s adrift, ill-prepared for the new world facing her. She’s a generous, big-hearted woman, but also foolish, blind to what is about to happen. So how to play all that without melancholy, without all this yearning that has been attached to Chekhov? There is humor as this event unfolds, not yuck yuck comedy but the silliness of humanity. I’d like to think that when Ranevskaya does give up the orchard she might finally be able to grow up.”
5.) Maria Callas, Master Class, by Terrence McNally. “Master Class has been described as more of a character study than a play. Some have even called it trite, but oh – to explore such a towering ego, such a theatrical woman dealing with life after stardom, tormented by her past glories and infused with pain. It can’t get any better than that!”