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My Acting Bucket List: Wendy Waddell

Imagine Glengarry Glen Ross with an all-female cast

Wendy Waddell (left) with Monique Gaffney in Bluebonnet Court
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.

Wendy Waddell

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.

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Wendy Waddell (left) with Monique Gaffney in Bluebonnet Court
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.

Wendy Waddell

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.

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