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An Actor's Life: Rubber Cat Suits and Lorenzo Lamas
In which I talk to Claire Warden and Matt DeCapua (Now performing in JULIA & BUDDY at the MITF.)
Working with great actors is the most fun you can have and it's been a blast directing Claire Warden and Matt DeCapua in JULIA & BUDDY, a two-hander romantic comedy being performed in the fifteenth annual Midtown International Theater Festival on July 17, 18, 19, 27 & August 2 (Get tickets here.)
I've known Claire since she showed up at an NYCPlaywrights meeting. Early on I realized she would be a great Julia, and so asked her to participate in all readings in the development of the play since 2009.
Her next project is to star as Henry in Accidental Shakespeare's "Hit and Run Shakespeare" HENRY V which I was curious about:
Why did they pick you for the role, being a lady and all?
They've wanted me to work with them for quite a while now and each time they have their shows I've been busy doing other work, but this is one of the times when I'm in the city and free and they said they needed someone really strong Shakespeare-wise and actor-wise to carry it and they thought it would be fun if that was me.
To which I say, kudos to Accidental Shakespeare for picking the strongest actor and not being all hung up on the standard gender binary. Although of course there is a long tradition of cross-dressing in Shakespeare starting with the fact that boys played all the women's roles in the original productions.
The show is August 16 at the Pearl Theater.
This isn't the only time Claire has been one of Shakespeare's guys though - in 2012 she was the Player King with the Shakespeare Forum. It was a very interesting take on the play within the play in HAMLET.
I played the role with Dan De Jesus, who is the most phenomenal mover, physical actor-dancer I've ever known. The director said: "I want to do something different with the play within the play. Here's the music I want to use, do something weird. Go."
And just gave us space and time to play around. And we came up with this really awesome dance movement piece. I wore a rubber cat suit and four-inch heels and massive hair and black make-up.
Obviously she's perfect to play the agoraphobic, Schopenhauer-obsessed philosophy professor Julia.
I needed just the right actor to play Buddy too, and after looking at dozens without success decided to search through Facebook friends of friends. It so happened that Oliver Butler, a director I worked with ten years ago (and who won an Obie for directing this year) had an actor friend named Matt DeCapua. I took a look at Matt's web site, which includes reels (you should see him as a reporter confronting Tom Selleck) and I knew immediately this would be the perfect Buddy - I didn't even audition him, I just sent him the script and offered him the role. And he said yes. Just like that.
So don't tell me Facebook is a bad thing.
Matt recently wrote/produced a web series called Space Dogs.
It's about a highly dysfunctional workplace environment in the future. I play the captain.
Do you identify with the character?
The chief engineer of the ship, played brilliantly by David Niles, is me in all of the crappy survival jobs I've ever had, just trying to cope, mostly with sarcasm and alcohol. I'm very proud of it and it will be posted soon.
Matt has also worked on stage a lot, including in DRACULA with Lorenzo Lamas at Keane University. So of course I had to ask:
How was Lamas?
He is so hot. He has that amazing quality where he looks at you and he makes you feel like you're the only person in the entire world. He would tell us all these stories when he was working on other shows, like Renegade. He couldn't eat any desserts because he had to take his shirt off in every episode. And they had all these great desserts at the craft table. I guess he would take home some dessert and put it in his freezer.
Claire and Matt, not surprisingly, admire each other's work:
Working with Claire Warden is a dream come true, she's an incredible actor, she is so present and grounded and with you and I love working with her every night.
I knew the second I met Matt that everything was going to be fine. I learn a lot working with him every day - he keeps me very real on stage, which is I think probably quite hard to do with me. And a dashingly attractive gentleman.
But also a big geek too -
Yeah, a sexy geek.
I'll take that, sexy geek.
They are both right - they both do amazing work. Come and see for yourself: