Lend Me a Tenor Interview

Plogger Sabrina went backstage to talk with Mary Catherine Garrison about her role in Lend Me a Tenor.

Sabrina: You've done a variety of plays that include Accent on Youth and The Man Who Came to Dinner. Do you like doing period pieces? What attracts you to this era of the '30s and '40s?

Mary Catherine: I really like doing period pieces, but I don't necessarily seek them out. That time period was sort of golden time for American theater so there are frequent revivals of plays from then, and, like our play, you have writers who have a lot of affection for that genre and then set plays in that time period. Personally, I enjoy doing GOOD plays - whether modern or a revival. But I do have a special place in my heart for the 20s, 30s, and 40s. I love films and music from then--and I'm so fascinated by their lifestyle. The hair, the clothes, the social norms - all the little details just fascinate me.

Sabrina: After having done both, what do you think is tougher, drama or comedy?

Mary Catherine: The honest answer is that they're both tough, but in different ways. I would say that comedy is tougher, only because you spend a lot of time not being funny until you find the funny, or doing the same jokes for the same people in the same room who can't laugh at it anymore. But doing a run of a play that asks a lot of you emotionally - eight shows a week of screaming and crying - that's a whole other animal. Right now, I'm really happy to be in a light, silly comedy!

Sabrina: In the play, your character, Maggie, wants a fling. What do you think that really means in terms of 1934? In your opinion, do you think this want ever really gets satisfied?

Mary Catherine: The writer, Ken Ludwig, wrote this play in the 1980s and set it in 1934, so I'm thinking there are some liberties taken with some period behavior here :) The truth is, though, that people in the 30s--and any other time period, for that matter--were having sex and fooling around and had sexual desire and all of that. Whether you would have announced it to your fiance at that time, I'm not so sure. I think the want gets satisfied in a way she wasn't expecting: she had underestimated Max (played by Justin Bartha) and gets to experience him in a whole new light - which ends up being much better than a fling could have been.

Sabrina: Can you relate to Maggie? Or is she different from yourself or anyone you've ever played?

Mary Catherine: I almost always feel like there is plenty to relate to in any character I play. They may not be exactly like me, or want exactly what I want, but they are people who want something, so we always have that in common - after that you just have to get into and believe in the specifics.

Sabrina: What is your typical warm-up before getting on stage? Is there any particular song or exercise that pumps you up?

Mary Catherine: I'm finding that every show is different for me. I do a little yoga and a short vocal warm-up in my dressing room with this particular show. I want to go onstage with my energy high, so I've been blasting music that I don't normally listen to - like Guns-n-Roses and AC/DC to get the blood pumping.

Sabrina: What is it like working with such a dynamic and star-studded cast?

Mary Catherine: As famous and dynamic as they are--they are also an incredibly generous group of people who know a lot about comedy and about finding the jokes and I love them all immensely. We're still thrilled to be onstage together and still working. An example: the other night I was backstage with Tony and Justin and told them about a laugh I had lost which I had been getting since the beginning and I couldn't figure out what I was doing differently and what I needed to do. So in the dimly lit backstage area while whispering, the three of us talked it out and tried out a couple of things and solved it and I got my laugh back! They're also a hilarious group so we laugh a whole lot. There's nothing better.

Sabrina: What has been your most memorable onstage or backstage experience?

Mary Catherine: Fortunately or unfortunately, this particular cast has quite a few individuals who break easily on stage (by 'break' I mean laugh) and because there are some funny moments with some real funny actors, we have all lost it on stage. The audience loves it so my feeling is that if its genuine its fine. But as much as the audience loves it, we're having an even better time. It's such a wonderful job to be able to make people laugh!

Read Sabrina's review of Lend Me a Tenor and check out a backstage video here!