Emmy nominee Becky Ann Baker is back on stage and breaking hearts in Second Stage's world premiere of Greg Pierce’s Cardinal. Becky co-stars as Nancy Prenchel, a widowed, local business owner with an adult son on the spectrum who must deal with the rapid changes happening in her hometown. BroadwayBox caught up with Becky Ann to hear from her about the appeal of Greg Pierce's writing, dream revivals, and advise for a long theatrical career.
1. What first attracted you to Cardinal? What speaks to you about Greg Pierce’s writing?
I have loved Greg Pierce's work since I saw Slowgirl at Lincoln Center. He weaves his stories in such an intricate way and writes with great wit. His characters are so fully realized and Cardinal has been an absolute dream to do!
2. What’s an Assassins memory that could always make you smile?
I have so many great memories from Assassins! There was a full scrim at the back of the stage that we would stand behind at the top of the show, before the lights went up. The audience couldn't see us but we could see them and we would check them out!
3. Which stage role pushed you or challenged you most as a performer, and how did you eventually “crack” it for the run?
My most challenging role to date was playing Emilia in Shakespeare's Othello at the Public Theatre with Liev Schreiber playing Iago. First of all, no one does Shakespeare like Liev! And Emilia is one of the great supporting roles of all time. I have never worked so hard on every element of a play!
4. Do you and your husband, Emmy nominee Dylan Baker, have a dream revival you’d love to do onstage together?
Dylan has been wanting to do Virginia Woolf but he can't talk me into being that unhappy with each other! We took a look recently at Life With Father but we're really waiting for our Gin Game!
5. What screen role do people recognize you most for around the city?
I'm most recognized around town for either Girls or Freaks and Geeks—especially down in the NYU area or any Anthropologie store in the country.
6. What advice would you give to a young actress or actor who looks at your career and says I want that—the longevity and constantly working?
My advice for young actors and actresses starting out: WORK ETHIC! Acting isn't just the creative part! Show up on time and be ready to work! Know your lines, that's the easy part! These things follow you your entire career. Your reputation is very important!
7. In what ways has New York theatre changed since you made your debut as Ruby Ray in Whorehouse?
My first Broadway show was the original cast of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which I booked through an Equity open singing call! The Broadway scene was not nearly as healthy then. There were many dark Broadway houses and talk of the fading stage scene. Now look at the theatre scene in NYC! Every theatre has a show waiting in line.
Don't miss Becky Ann Baker in Cardinal at Second Stage Theatre through February 25.