Wild, Hilarious, & Smart: Get to Know the Super-Talented Ladies of Bedlam’s Sense & Sensibility

August 24th, 2016 by

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Wild, Hilarious, & Smart: Get to Know the Super-Talented ...

The must-see show off-Broadway right now is Bedlam's critically-acclaimed production of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility. It's inventive, incredibly staged and well-acted, and totally unforgettable. BroadwayBox caught up with the cast to hear from each them about game-changing literature, pop culture relationship goals, and powerful theatrical experiences. First up, the ladies of Sense & Sensibility.

KATE HAMILL (Playwright & Marianne Dashwood)

Kate Hamil- Sense and Sensibility- bedlam

1. What line from the show do you find yourself thinking about most outside the theatre?
Because I wrote the play, pretty much the whole script rattles around in my head, all day long… but I swear I think “This is all VERY UNORTHODOX!” several times a day.

2. How does your performance change or grow as the run goes on?
I often try some new, small, internal change in performance–focusing on a new aspect of Marianne: her sense of humor or her discoveries or her relationship with Margaret, or whatever. It may not change anything outwardly, but it keeps me fresh and engaged and deepens my understanding of Marianne: I’ve now done the show 150+ times, so trying new things (while maintaining the overall form of the performance) is really key.

3. Who in the cast makes you laugh most?
That would be a threeway tie between Stephan Wolfert, Sam Steinmetz, and Jason O’Connell. They’re all so funny and ridiculous… but really, everyone in this cast cracks me up, regularly. Jason probably makes me laugh the most offstage, because he’s my real-life boyfriend. But everyone is so, so outrageously funny.

4. Piece of literature that completely rocked your world the first time you read it?
The Color Purple. I just held it and sobbed after I had finished it.

5. Fictional love story that is totally #RelationshipGoals?
I’m working on a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, so I’ll have to say Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy, at the moment, since they’re occupying so much of my brain!

6. What do you hear most often from people after they’ve seen Sense & Sensibility?
That it’s so joyous, that it gives them hope. That makes me so happy.

 

LAURA BARANIK (Fanny Dashwood/Lucy Steele)

Laura Baranik- Sense and Sensibility- Bedlam

 

1. What moment brings you most joy each night and why?
I don’t want to give away the ending, but there’s a moment—a single line—in the final scene where everything falls into place and the whole room seems to exhale at once. I love watching the audience when that happens.

2. How does your performance change or grow as the run goes on?
We’ve now performed over 150 shows (over 200 if you count the initial off-off-Broadway run), and it has been a huge lesson in never sitting back, never getting too comfortable. The line that got a reliable laugh for the last 100 shows might stop working on the 101st. As soon as you go on autopilot, especially in comedy, the audience will let you know. 

3. Piece of literature that completely rocked your world the first time you read it?
Lolita. We read it in high school English class, and I’m sure I was mostly excited for the sex parts. But the beauty of the writing ended up blowing me away.

4. Fictional love story that is totally #RelationshipGoals?
Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise.

5. Who in the cast makes you laugh most?
Do I have to pick? I think it might be Kate Hamill, who sits next to me in the onstage dressing room and cracks me up while we do hair and make-up. Her wit is something else — which, if you’ve seen Sense, you already knew. Yeah, it’s based on Austen, who of course was incredibly funny herself, but there’s a lot of that very particular Hamill humor in the script, too.

6. Tell me about an experience you’ve had as an audience member that you’ll never forget:
Being flirted with during pre-show by Mark Rylance in character as Richard III. I’m all about audience participation.

 

KELLEY CURRAN (Elinor Dashwood)

Kelley Curran- Elinor- Bedlam- Sense and Sensibility

1. What line from the show do you find yourself thinking about most outside the theatre?
The line in the show I find myself thinking about the most outside of the theatre is when Elinor says to Edward Ferrars, after all of her hopes of sharing a life with him have been dashed and she understands that perhaps the next time she ever sees him, he will be the husband of someone else, "May I give you my unceasing good wishes for your happiness."  It is such a specific and beautiful articulation of her authentic love for him, and reveals a great deal to me about her character and spirit that I admire deeply. That word, "unceasing," what a gorgeous word that is...

2. What moment brings you most joy each night and why?
Spoiler alert—the end!!  The very end of the play brings me so much joy—the music, the movement, where the story has taken us (actors and audience, alike, one hopes)!  It feels jubilant! After an evening of playing a woman who contains and contains and controls her emotions and impulses with such exertion and precision, the last few moments of the play feel practically wild.

3. Who in the cast makes you laugh most?
I have to say, I've had to stop myself from breaking on stage multiple times when Samantha Steinmetz makes her first appearance as her second character of the night. For most of the production she plays the role of Mrs. Dashwood, the mother of Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, and the character she's created is maternal, reserved, compassionate, elegant. But then about halfway through the play she enters as an entirely different character, Ann Steele, and every night the transformation is so seamless and complete, it catches me off guard and continues to surprise me in the most delightful ways. 

4. Piece of literature that completely rocked your world the first time you read it?
Oh! This one's easy. I remember being 13 years old and reading Romeo & Juliet for the first time, and I got to the balcony scene, and from Romeo's ".... It is the East..." on through Juliet's lines, "My bounty is as boundless as the sea,/ My love as deep; the more I give to thee,/ The more I have, for both are infinite."  I didn't understand exactly what everything in between meant, but I knew, then and there, that it was so important. Someone had written down what I imagined that kind of love might feel like someday; they had written the love I hoped I could be capable of, and from then on I was a goner for Shakespeare. 

5. Tell me about an experience you’ve had as an audience member that you’ll never forget:
It was a dance piece, actually. Pina Bausch's Volemond at BAM. The craft, the spontaneity, the joy, the full expression of the human body and the heights it can achieve... It was simply a masterpiece. I've been lucky to see so many extraordinary productions of plays, and profound and moving performances by incredible actors, but I don't know that I've ever left a theatre feeling more fully alive than when I left Volemond. Like reading the balcony scene of Romeo & Juliet for the first time, I'll never forget it. 

6. Fictional love story that is totally #RelationshipGoals?
Hotspur and Lady Percy in Henry IV, they're just the sexiest. Them, and Tami and Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights.

   

JESSICA FREY (Margaret Dashwood/Miss Grey)

Jessica Frey- Bedlam- Sense & Sensibility

1. What line from the show do you find yourself thinking about most outside the theatre?
Definitely "If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more." I got married on August 21st and I've actually included that line in my vows. Even though Kate constantly reminds me that it is in fact borrowed from Emma and is not actually from the novel. Thank goodness I won't embarrass myself in front of all the Austenites at my wedding!

2. How does your performance change or grow as the run goes on?
I think the more I invest in listening, and listening in unexpected ways, the more fun I have. So I suppose it mostly changes by the sheer fact that I'm finding new moments to invest in all the time. Hopefully it's subtle (fingers crossed). Like recently everyone has been giving me dirty looks like I'm misbehaving all the time, and I find that really hilarious and fun.

3. Piece of literature that completely rocked your world the first time you read it?
Probably East of Eden, or The Awakening, or honestly Harry Potter.

4. Fictional love story that is totally #RelationshipGoals?
Oh dear. Now I'm terrified. If I'm being real probably Coach and Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights (they just respect the hell out of each other) with a healthy dose of Annie Hall (without the ending up with other people thing), and perhaps sprinklings of Frank and Estelle Costanza from Seinfeld.

5. What do you hear most often from people after they’ve seen Sense & Sensibility?
"Dude, I was crying."

6. Tell me about an experience you’ve had as an audience member that you’ll never forget:
I suppose the first time I saw Mark Rylance perform I was floored (old news, he's amazing). It was in La Bête on Broadway and I had been teaching a scene from the play in my acting class and had this idea in my head about his character. Then I saw him completely blow my idea out of the water. He was so completely free, having so much fun. He was so joyful and he just infected me with this excitement about what acting can be, not about what it should be. I basically ran all the way home.

SAMANTHA STEINMETZ (Mrs. Dashwood/Anne Steele)

SAMANTHA STEINMETZ - Sense and Sensbility

1. What moment brings you most joy each night and why?
I love watching the audience during the last Edward/Elinor scene. It gets me every night. 

2. How does your performance change or grow as the run goes on?
It's like chemistry. I feel I'm constantly adjusting the levels of things to make it fresh every night. For me, the question is how can I improve my performance without drastically changing what we rehearsed and what we know works?

3. Who in the cast makes you laugh most?
They all make me laugh equally, in their own weird, little ways. I love these people. 

4. Fictional love story that is totally #RelationshipGoals?
Buster Bluth and Lucille Austero.

5. What do you hear most often from people after they’ve seen Sense & Sensibility?
"I love the guy who played the horse!"

6. Tell me about an experience you’ve had as an audience member that you’ll never forget:
The first thing that comes to mind is a show called Next Fall. There is a moment in Act II when the father, played wonderfully by Cotter Smith, drops to the floor in despair. There was something so jarring and cathartic about the fall. It was so simple and yet so heartbreaking.  I tear up just thinking about that play. 

 

NICOLE LEWIS (Mrs. Jennings)

Nicole Lewis- Bedlam- Sense and Sensibility

1. What moment brings you most joy each night and why?
Watching the Dashwoods and the Steeles and The Ferrars all in one room.  Because of all the horrifying and hilarious family drama that gets so creatively played. I'm in awe of my castmates.

2. How does your performance change or grow as the run goes on?
There is discovery every night. I'm constantly seeking Mrs. Jennings truth as she gets new information and encounters all her relations. The Bedlam Balancing Act is real y'all! It's a ballet with many moving parts. 

3. What line from the show do you find yourself thinking about most outside the theatre?
Particular friends...and particular... particulars...

4. Tell me about an experience you’ve had as an audience member that you’ll never forget:
I treated myself to Bill Irwin and David Shiner's Old Hats at Signature Theater (I've been a fan of the duo since Fool Moon), and in the 2nd act, David Shiner searched the crowd and picked me to be "the girl" with three other audience members in an old Western reenactment. We were all so nervous and excited and had a ball! It was a thrill to get to play with people I've been so inspired by. That and Loretta Divine singing "Ain't No Party" to me in Dreamgirls. #spellbound

5. Fictional love story that is totally #RelationshipGoals?
Bridget Jones Diary.

6. What do you hear most often from people after they’ve seen Sense & Sensibility?
Audience member: I thought there was a dance party at the end.
Me: That was "Hair" darling (in my best 18th Century British dialect)
AM: (chuckles)
Me: But I'll give the director your feedback, and maybe we'll have one the next time you come ;)

See these ladies in the unforgettable and one-of-a-kind production of 'Sense and Sensibility' at off-Broadway's Gym at Judson through November 20.