Wendy Waddell (left) with Monique Gaffney in Bluebonnet Court
I’m asking actors and designers to name their five dream roles/projects and say why. The answers not only reveal aspirations, they may put an idea in the minds of artistic directors and producers — even choices that seem outside the box.
Versatile San Diego actor Wendy Waddell:
“As I first approached my bucket list, I realized how fluid it truly is. Certain roles are no longer on the list due to aging out or lack of passion for them anymore. I also have learned that there are roles I’ve played that I never knew I wanted until I played them. And as a teacher of playwriting, I believe my best roles might yet to be written. So for here and now, the list is”:
1.) Sister Aloysius, Doubt, by John Patrick Shanley. This one never goes away. I’ve always had a love affair with Shanley as a playwright. He has a distinctive voice — poetic with a grounded, Everyman tone — and a love for strong, complex female characters. Sister Aloysius — whoa! Such a conflicted, intense, flawed human being. Someday I need to sink my teeth into this character and see what I can do.
2.) The Baker’s Wife, Into the Woods, by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Another one that has lingered for what feels like a lifetime. I saw this when it premiered at the Old Globe when I was a child. The role is glorious. She’s got this ache for motherhood that won’t subside and that fuels her to never back down. She also has a wicked sense of humor and the ability to see that love isn’t what the fairy tales say. She’s the touchstone of the piece. When I hear her ‘Moments in the Woods’ I get chills and sing it at the top of my lungs.
3.) Harper Pitt, Angels in America, Parts I & II, by Tony Kushner. In modern theater, it doesn’t get much more epic than this. On the surface, Harper seems like a pill-popping disaster, but as the play unfolds, we see her turmoil: her marriage, her faith, her sense of isolation, mental illness. And yet I see her beauty and the hope that lingers within her.
4.) Nora Walker, The Who’s Tommy, by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff. I was obsessed with the concept album as a kid. Knew it backwards and forwards. Nora Walker is a mother who has to learn to put her child first after a mistake that nearly cost Tommy everything. Her growth and unconditional love speak to me as a mom. Plus the music is flawless. To be honest, if someone told me five years ago that I would have not one but two musical theater characters on this list, I would have laughed in their face. My, how my career has grown!
5.) Ricky Roma, Glengarry Glen Ross, by David Mamet. “A few years ago, I was part of a clandestine reading of this play with an all-female cast. To me, Ricky is the pulse of the play. Underhanded, self-serving, slimy, and yet I’m drawn to him as a character study. Mamet is like Shakespeare to me. Every word has meaning, sometimes more than one. It gave me a rush to read Mamet’s words in that reading. Maybe somebody could approach the play with women. And that Mamet could be open to it. We would tear it up.