Friday, April 28, 2017

'The Bodyguard' Set To Open May 2 At Pantages

The first U.S. National tour of the hit musical THE BODYGUARD, will celebrate its Los Angeles premiere at Hollywood Pantages Theatre for a 3-week engagement; May 2 21, 2017.

Tickets for THE BODYGUARD are on sale and are available for purchase at or, by phone at 800-982-2787, and at the Hollywood Pantages Box Office (6233 Hollywood Boulevard). The box office opens daily at 10am except for Holidays.

Grammy® Award-nominated and multi-platinum R&B/pop recording artist and film/TV actress Deborah Cox stars as Rachel Marron. In the role of bodyguard Frank Farmer is television star Judson Mills.

Based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 Oscar nominated Warner Bros. film, and adapted by Academy Award-winner (Birdman) Alexander Dinelaris, THE BODYGUARD had its world premiere on December 5, 2012 at London’s Adelphi Theatre. THE BODYGUARD was nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and Best Set Design and won Best New Musical at the Whatsonstage Awards. The UK production of the musical recently completed a triumphant return run in London’s West End after a sell-out 16-month UK and Ireland tour.

Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love. A romantic thriller, THE BODYGUARD features a host of irresistible classics including So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, Run to You, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and one of the biggest selling songs of all time I Will Always Love You.

Rounding out the principal cast are Alex Corrado (Gotham, Hannibal) as Tony Scibelli, Rachel’s personal security guard, Jarid Faubel (Black & White, X-Men: First Class) as FBI agent Ray Court, Charles Gray (Broadway: The Color Purple, Tour: The Lion King) as manager Bill Devaney, Jonathan Hadley (Broadway: Jersey Boys, A Class Act) as publicist Sy Spector, Jorge Paniagua (Regional: The Full Monty, Oregon Shakespeare Festival) as the Stalker, Jasmin Richardson (Tour: Memphis, Dreamgirls) as Rachel’s sister Nicki Marron, and Douglas Baldeo (Broadway: Kinky Boots, Tour: Motown) and Kevelin B. Jones III (Idlewild Music Festival) alternating in the role of Rachel’s son Fletcher.

The ensemble includes Brendon Chan, Willie Dee, Megan Elyse Fulmer, Alejandra Matos, DeQuina Moore, Bradford Rahmlow, Benjamin Rivera, Sean Rozanski, Matthew Schmidt, Jaquez André Sims, Maria Cristina Slye, Nicole Spencer, Lauren Tanner, and Naomi C. Walley.

Direction is by Thea Sharrock. Set & costume design is by Tim Hatley, lighting design by Mark Henderson, sound design by Richard Brooker and video design by Duncan McLean

Choreography is by Karen Bruce, orchestrations by Chris Egan, musical supervision by Richard Beadle and production musical supervision by Mike Dixon. Musical director Matthew Smedal conducts the live orchestra.

The U.S. National tour of THE BODYGUARD is produced by Michael Harrison, David Ian and Nederlander Presentations, Inc.

The performance schedule for THE BODYGUARD is Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. Opening night is Tues., May 2, 2017, at 8 p.m. Deborah Cox is not scheduled to perform at the matinee performances.

THE BODYGUARD is recommended for ages 13 and up. (Children under 5 will not be admitted to the theatre. All patrons must have a ticket, regardless of age.)

Individual tickets for THE BODYGUARD start at $35. Prices are subject to change without notice. For more information, visit

For tickets or more information about the Los Angeles engagement of THE BODYGUARD, please visit the official website for Hollywood Pantages Theatre:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Performances Begin For Mark Taper's 'Archduke'

L-R: Ramiz Monsef, Patrick Page and Josiah Bania
in the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s “Archduke.” Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Performances have begun for Center Theatre Group’s production of “Archduke.” Written by Rajiv Joseph, the world premiere of “Archduke” began previews April 25 and will continue through June 4, 2017, at the Mark Taper Forum. Opening night is set for May 7.

Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, the cast includes, in alphabetical order, Josiah Bania, Joanne McGee, Ramiz Monsef, Patrick Page, Stephen Stocking and Todd Weeks.

The creative team includes scenic design by Tim Mackabee, costume design by Denitsa Bliznakova, lighting design by Lap Chi Chu, music and sound by Daniel Kluger, casting by Telsey + Company and the production stage manager is David S. Franklin. 

“Archduke” follows the unlikely path to terrorism as three strangers, already struggling to get by, receive a death sentence in the form of a tuberculosis diagnosis. But being young men with nothing to lose in Belgrade, 1914, makes them the perfect recruits for a secret organization looking to strike a blow in the name of Serbian nationalism.

“Archduke” explores the short journey from individual hardship to public harm as personal desperation is cultivated into an act with international significance and a few average men spark World War I. 

Rajiv Joseph’s “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” premiered at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2009 before moving to the Taper in 2010 and Broadway in 2011. “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” was named a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and was also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. Joseph’s play “Guards at the Taj” was a 2016 Obie winner for Best New American Play and 2016 Lucille Lortel winner for Best Play. His other plays include “The North Pool,” “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” “Animals Out of Paper” and “The Lake Effect.” His plays have been translated and produced worldwide. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

'Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington': A Review

Melanie Cruz and Ben Guillory
Photos by: Matthew Leland

By Darlene Donloe

Like a fly on the wall, the audience is able to listen to candid conversations between Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and NAACP co-founder Miss Ovington in the Robey Theater Company production of Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington, currently playing through May 21, at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC).

Dr. W.E.B. Dubois was and continues to be a larger than life figure in the civil rights movement.  He was best known for ruffling feathers by saying exactly what was on his mind.

Dubois, who co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was considered one of the most important black protest leaders in the United States during the first half of the 20th century.

A civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar, Du Bois publicly fought for the civil rights of African Americans and was vocal about his opposition to racism. Miss Ovington was also an intellectual who could stand toe-to-toe with Du Bois.
Melanie Cruz and Ben Guillory 
Photo credit: Blaze

This two-person, one-act, presentation is performed by Melanie Cruz, who plays Miss Ovington and Ben Guillory, who, in addition to playing W.E.B. Du Bois, also directs.

When the play opens it’s a Sunday morning in June 1915 and both Dr. Du Bois, who, of course, is black and Miss Ovington, who is white, have arrived at the NAACP office to catch up on their work. Co-founders of the organization, neither knew the other would be there. Du Bois is there to put the finishing touches on his fourth resignation letter to the organization.  The only Black man in a leadership position at the NAACP at the time, he’s grown weary of the organization pulling the strings. He does not want to report to a committee of three. He wants the NAACP’s board to treat him as an equal or he’ll leave the NAACP.

Melanie Cruz

This play brings Miss Ovington’s unknown and untold role as a co-founder of the NAACP to life.

In this production a reserved Miss Ovington tries to talk Du Bois off the ledge. After all, because she believes Du Bois is the power behind the NAACP, she wants to save the organization by convincing him to stay and continue his work. As the afternoon wears on, the two wax philosophical about race, civil rights, justice and even relationships.  Soon, sexual tension fills the office and the two of them have to quickly decide their next move. Their attraction for and to each other is palpable. It’s an interesting turn of events because Du Bois is married, but he is rarely in the same room as his wife, who lives in London. Miss Ovington is single, but isn’t serious about anyone.

There is some rich dialogue in Clare Coss’s slow and deliberate piece. There isn’t much action, but the play flows on the strength of the examination of two bright historical figures. The attempt is to peel back the curtain just enough to peek in and see a different side of Du Bois and to reveal the importance of Miss Ovington to the organization’s success. We find that Du Bois wasn’t that much different than his public persona. His gate was still reserved and rigid, his opinions verbally dispersed.  With Ovington it’s a wide open canvass as not much about her has even been discussed.

Ben Guillory

Both Guillory and Melanie Cruz are a delight to watch as they spar. Both move about the stage with confidence. Guillory is always a commanding figure on stage. He brings an undeniable dignity to the role. Cruz is an absolute delight with her delicate movements and her radiant and beatific expressions.  She delivers a strong, charming and feisty Miss Ovington.

Under the direction of Ben Guillory, Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington flows freely. Thomas Meleck’s impressive set, Michael David Ricks’ lighting, Ivan Robles’ sound and Naila A. Sanders’ costumes makes for a full and convincing production.

Dr. Du Bois and Miss Ovington, written by Clare Coss and directed by Ben Guillory, stars Guillory and Melanie Cruz.

The show is produced by The Robey Theatre Company in association with Los Angeles Theatre Center.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Dr. Dubois and Miss Ovington gets an O (oh, yeah).

Dr. Dubois and Miss Ovington, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Theatre 4, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles; 8 p.m., Thur.-Sat; 3 p.m. Sun. through May 21; $20-$30; For information: (213) 489-7402, (866) 811-4111 or

MdFF Announces Opening & Closing Night Films

BALTIMORE (Wednesday, April 26, 2017) – Today Maryland Film Festival (MdFF) announced the complete guide for the opening night short films and closing night film for the 19th annual Maryland Film Festival, taking place May 3-7 in Baltimore, Maryland. The complete festival program, schedule and tickets for all screenings are now available online at and is also available for download as a PDF from that page.
The festival will kick-off with the Opening Night Shorts program, the Grand Opening and first public event in the festival's new home, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway, the stunning newly-renovated three-screen theater in the heart of the city's Station North Arts and Entertainment District. The evening is hosted by MdFF alums Kris Swanbergand Josephine Decker. The opening night event will be held on Wednesday, May 3 at 8 PM at the Parkway.

The five films in the opening night shorts program are: BALLONFEST from director Nathan TruesdellCOMMODITY CITY from director Jessica KingdonGAME from director Jeannie DonohoeRICHARD TWICE from director Matthew Salton, and THEY CHARGE FOR THE SUN from director Terence Nance. All five directors will be in attendance. In fact, all U.S. feature films and all Opening Night Shorts are hosted by their filmmakers, and many more filmmakers will be in attendance across MdFF 2017's international features and 10 shorts programs, continuing a unique MdFF festival tradition.

BALLONFEST, Nathan Truesdell, 6 minutes, USA
Cleveland attempts to overcome its nickname, ‘The Mistake by the Lake’ by launching a bunch of balloons.

COMMODITY CITY, Jessica Kingdon, 10 minutes, USA
Commodity City is an observational documentary exploring the daily lives of vendors who work in the largest wholesale consumer market in the world: the Yiwu Markets in China. The film explores moments of tension between commerce and individuality, between the goods for sale and the humans who sell them.

GAME, Jeannie Donohoe, 16 minutes, USA
A new kid in town shows up at the high school boys basketball tryouts and instantly makes an impression. Will talent and drive be enough to make the team?

RICHARD TWICE, Matthew Salton, 10 minutes, USA
Richard Atkins, the singer and songwriter of the early 70’s California psychedelic folk duo ‘Richard Twice’, was on his way to stardom and a huge success with his first debut album when he mysteriously walked away from it all.

THEY CHARGE FOR THE SUN, Terence Nance, 17 minutes, USA
In a dystopian future where people live nocturnally to avoid the harmful rays of the sun, a young black girl unravels the lie that has kept her and her sister in the dark.

Director Brett Haley will present his beautiful narrative feature THE HERO, the festival's closing night film, at the Parkway on Sunday, May 7 at 7:15 PM.

THE HERO stars the legendary Sam Elliott as an aging actor confronting mortality in the moving new film from writer/director Brett Haley (I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS). Lee Hayden (Elliott) is a Western icon with a golden voice, but his best performances are decades behind him. He spends his days reliving old glories and smoking too much weed with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy (Nick Offerman), until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus. He soon strikes up an exciting, contentious relationship with stand-up comic Charlotte (Laura Prepon), and he attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Lucy (Krysten Ritter), all while searching for one final role to cement his legacy. THE HERO is a beautiful and poignant celebration of life and the legacies we all leave behind.
The festival will feature world premieres of two excellent narrative feature works, Stephen Cone's nuanced coming-of-age drama PRINCESS CYD (the follow-up his highly-acclaimed recent film HENRY GAMBLE'S BIRTHDAY PARTY) and Josh Crockett's hilarious and insightful DR. BRINKS & DR. BRINKS. It will also feature the U.S. premiere of Ashley McKenzie's haunting and uncompromising narrative feature WEREWOLF and Hugh Gibson's documentary feature THE STAIRS.

 – World Premiere (Narrative Feature)
Director: Stephen Cone
Thursday 5/4 at 8 PM at MICA Gateway Building
Friday 5/5 at 11:30 AM at MICA Gateway Building
Saturday 5/6 at 4:40 PM at Parkway Auditorium 3
Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer. While there, she falls for a girl in the neighborhood, even as she and her aunt gently challenge each other in the realms of sex and spirit. From the director of Henry Gamble's Birthday Party, which had its world premiere within MdFF 2015.

Princess Cyd is playing with the short film IMAGO from director Liz Cardenas Franke. The courageous, life-altering decision to never let anyone bully him ever again – not even his own father – leads a 15-year-old gay teen to fully embrace his true identity. (8 minutes, USA)

DR. BRINKS & DR. BRINKS – World Premiere (Narrative Feature)
Director: Josh Crockett
Thursday 5/4 at 7:40 PM at Parkway Auditorium 2
Friday 5/5 at 4:50 PM at MICA Gateway Building
Sunday 5/7 5:15 PM at Parkway Auditorium 2
Marcus and Michelle Brinks reunite at the funeral for their parents, crazy aid workers who rarely stuck around to do any parenting. As their lawyer sorts out the convoluted estate of the globe-trotting doctors, who may not be the angels they were thought to be, the siblings turn their lives and relationships into chaos while reckoning with their shared past. The movie is about pain, loss, sex, ego…about the search for real family and the strong pull of roots. It’s hard to be the children of saints. The first feature from the director of such short films as Dogsbody (MdFF 2016).

WEREWOLF – U.S. Premiere (Narrative Feature)
Director: Ashley McKenzie
Thursday 5/4 at 9:45 PM at Parkway Auditorium 3
Friday 5/5 at 10 PM at MICA Gateway Building
Blaise and Nessa are outcast methadone users in their small town. Each day they push a rusty lawnmower door-to-door begging to cut grass. Nessa plots an escape, while Blaise lingers closer to collapse. Tethered to one another, their getaway dreams are kept on a suffocatingly short leash.

THE STAIRS – U.S. Premiere (Documentary Feature)
Director: Hugh Gibson

Friday 5/5 at 7:05 PM at Parkway Auditorium 3
Sunday 5/7 at 2:40 PM at Parkway Auditorium 2
The Stairs tells the story of Marty, Greg and Roxanne, each of whom survived decades of street-involvement. Using their experiences to ease the paths of others, each performs social work in their old neighborhood, while struggling to maintain their newly-found stability. Told over five years, The Stairs is a non-judgmental character study of life on society’s margins. Defying stereotypes through intimate portraits, its remarkable subjects are by turns surprising, funny, shocking and moving.
About MdFF – Founded in 1999, MdFF brings films, filmmakers, students and audiences together in a friendly, inclusive atmosphere. Through the organization’s annual five-day Maryland Film Festival each May, daily programming at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, and the Maryland Filmmakers Fellowship, MdFF reflects the unique creative aspects of Baltimore’s community, while participating in the film and cultural dialogue across the country and the world. Film for Everyone. Every Day. More information about MdFF is available at
About the Maryland Film Festival – Now in its 19th year, the Maryland Film Festival is the annual, five-day celebration of film held each May by MdFF. Centered in and around the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway in Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District, Maryland Film Festival champions films and filmmakers with diverse and engaging viewpoints. The Film Festival screens filmmaker-hosted features and short films of all varieties—narrative, documentary, animation, experimental, and hybrid—to thousands of attendees. Film for Everyone. Every Day. More information about Maryland Film Festival is available at
About the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway  – Debuting in May 2017, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway is the new home of MdFF, the organization that creates and delivers the annual Maryland Film Festival. An $18.2 million “rescued ruin,” the Parkway features curated, bold programming that showcases films from every era, region, and genre, with a focus on independent, international, documentary, classic, and cult-favorite films, providing audiences with a fresh and immersive new window into the art form. In addition, the Parkway provides classroom space for film students and is a year-round hub for film education and the Baltimore community. Film for Everyone. Every Day. More information about the Parkway is available at

Monday, April 24, 2017

Jade Wheeler Stars In Drama, The Originalist

Jade Wheeler and Edward Gero

By Darlene Donloe

The Originalist, a play written by John Strand and directed by Molly Smith, takes an up-close-and-personal look at the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. It takes place in and around Washington, D.C., during the 2012-2013 term of the U.S. Supreme Court.

It doesn’t exactly sound like a production that will have audiences flocking to buy tickets. After all Scalia, who died February 13, 2016, wasn’t exactly thought to be a warm and fuzzy figure. In fact, he was arguably considered one of the most combative and polarizing jurists in history. That being said, the play, currently running at the Pasadena Playhouse through May 7, 2017, is not only a popular show, it’s doing exactly what it’s meant to do – not change anyone’s opinion of the man, his views or ideas, but rather to make people think and then think again. Who knew Scalia had a wicked sense of humor? He was actually funny.

When a bright, liberal law school graduate named Cat embarks on a nerve-wracking clerkship with Scalia, she discovers him to be both an infuriating sparring partner and an unexpected mentor.

The three-person play, which premiered at the Arena Stage, The Mead Center for American Theater, Washington, D.C., on March 6, 2015, stars four-time Helen Hayes Award recipient Edward Gero as Scalia, Brett Mack as Brad and Jade Wheeler as Cat, his liberal law clerk.

Wheeler, an army brat whose father was in the military, calls Washington, D.C. home although she grew up with her two older sisters and half-brother “kind of all over.”

A thespian that honed her craft from coast to coast, Wheeler went to George Mason University in Virginia. She trained twice at acting workshops in France at Ferme de Trielle, in Spain at The Actors Space and in Ireland at The Gaiety School of Acting. She also trained at several acting workshops in D.C.
Jade Wheeler

I recently caught up with the feisty, amiable Wheeler to discuss her role in the play and how her involvement has or hasn’t changed her opinion of the now deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

DD:  Describe The Originalist.

JW:  I like to basically say it’s a political drama that is, sort of investigating civil discourse and how we all have, sort of, taken sides. It feels like the good guys against the bad guys. Everyone thinks they are the good guys. 

DD: You played Cat before. How has the character evolved since you first played her at the Asolo Repertory Theater in Florida?

JW: I played Cat at the Asolo. It was my first time with the character and the piece. There, I was still sort of feeling her out. Sometimes you put on a new garment and you say, “How do I feel in this?”  You eventually become comfortable and you’re really in there. It’s like a glove. At Asolo, because I was new to the role, I was still thinking a lot about it and becoming aware. This time it feels lived in. Now we get to go deeper into the character and process the relationship.  Not to say it was on the surface at Asolo. It’s just that now the words are really in my body and mind.  We’ve lived and we’re all in different places now. Even the audience hears something different.  When we first started the show on Inauguration Day 2017 – it was tense in the country. Now we’ve been living with the administration for a few months. Things have shifted. We’ve lived and breathed it a bit more. Jan. 20, 2017, we opened at Asolo. Audiences were holding their breath. Imagine after the women’s march and after Neil Gorsuch was voted in (as the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States) – all of the political and social events that have been happening, the audience is bringing those experiences into the theater, even though the play takes place in 2012-2013. This show is very interesting.

DD:  Tell me about your character, Cat, and why you wanted to play her.

JW: So, Cat is the clerk in the play. She acknowledges that she and Scalia are more alike then she had thought earlier on – in their personalities and even in superficial ways. Both of their fathers were professors of literature. They both went to Harvard. She is tough as nails. She loves a good argument. She loves law. She loves to study and know that what she is saying is right. She is willing to learn. She’s a nice, juicy character. She’s someone any actor would love to play. She’s passionate and does everything 100%. She has her flaws like anyone else. She’s not afraid to admit that. She’s proud and humble. She shows a brave face, but she knows how to check in and say this is what I need in order to grow and become a better person. That’s what’s really beautiful about her. That’s her fighting spirit.

DD: How did you prepare for this show?

JW:  When I found out I booked the role, immediately I started going through the script and highlighting names for the different court justices and for the presidents as well. In this play, I wanted to know a lot more about them so I could have a valid opinion so that when a name is brought up, I have an opinion and feeling about it. I also highlighted court cases. Cat has very strong feelings about them. That was the dramaturgical portion. I’m always thinking what is her history and background and relationship to these other people. I think about what the playwright has given me and what it is that I already know?

DD: What do you think about Scalia now that you’ve lived with the character?

JW:  To be honest, I’ve never been hugely political. I’ve been pretty objective. I’m not going to say he was my favorite. I never had strong negative feelings about him either.  I’ve taken things with a grain of salt. I’ve always been a bit of a devil’s advocate. I learned about his personal side – the stuff you don’t see. I learned about his sense of humor and the relationship he had with his colleagues.

DD:  Do you and your character agree philosophically?

JW: As actors we always have something with our characters. The starting point is to find a commonality. Find a truth. That’s the way that we can perform something and breathe life into our characters.  Cat and I both want a pure freedom for everyone.  Some saw Scalia as Mr. Far Right!

DD: In an early scene, Cat tells the justice: “You are probably the most polarizing figure in American civic life.”  Do you feel the same way?

JW:  Maybe. In 2012, I think Scalia was the hot button topic. People loved him or hated him.

DD: Why should audiences come see this show?

JW:  I think the audiences should see the show because I’m the one that thinks people should see everything. I like to see everything, especially if I know nothing about it. I try to see as much as possible to constantly challenge myself and keep an open mind. Some audiences after the show say they didn’t think they would come see a show about Scalia. They say they are surprisingly pleased because they didn’t think they would enjoy watching something about him. They came in one way and left another. We’re not out to change your opinion. The show is setting out to say something about the conversation.  Audiences need to see the show because we all need to grow and expand.
DD: What do you like about Cat and what don’t you like about Cat?

JW:  I love Cat. She’s amazing. She’s like a superhero. It makes me wish that Jade was a bit more like her at her age.

Jade Wheeler

DD: How do you prepare to go onstage? Any rituals?

JW: It depends on the show. With some shows it’s a vocal warm up or stretching. With a historic character I would make sure I’m walking as that person and getting in their voice. With Cat, she’s very grounded and put together. I have to make sure my (hair) bun is tight and that I’m grounded. Her voice is a bit more commanding than mine. I get into her vocal range. I like to write in her notepad. I write notes on the legal pad. The rituals are the writing and some shake out.

DD: What do you mean by shake out?

JW: I literally just shake. Get some oxygen to your blood. I do it to get out of Jade’s body and into Cat’s.

DD: What are you most proud of in your career and why?

JW: I think that answer changes often. Right now I’m most proud of doing a show that is so important and relevant. I’m really proud of this project. It’s making an impact on people. I’m happy to be working as an actor.

DD: Why did you want to be an actress?

JW: I actually wanted to be a paleontologist. I love dinosaurs. I thought I’d be excavating bones. Then, my father was in the military. We traveled a lot. When we came back to the states my mother put us in a drama camp one summer.  At that point I didn’t want to do paleontology anymore. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I decided to major in theater.  I graduated from George Mason University where I majored in theater and minored in French. I graduated and didn’t know what I was going to do.

DD: What is the one thing you have to do – in order to consider yourself successful in this biz?

JW: That again is something where the answer changes often. Not having to work part time in restaurants and bars.  I have a bucket list of theaters I want to work with.  I want to do important, meaningful work. That’s all I can really ask for. Traveling for my art has always been important to me. It’s huge. It forces us to constantly reevaluate ourselves. It’s a constant learning thing. My dream is to perform in France, in French. That’s my next level of pure success.  There isn’t just one definition for success.

DD: What’s next for you after this show?

JW: We close here May 7, then we're going to Washington, D.C. and then Chicago. After that, I go directly to Miami to perform at the GableStage. I’m doing The Legend of Georgia McBride. It’s here at the Geffen right now. Then I go back to D.C. and pick up with this show.

DD: It sounds like you’re very busy.

JW:  I’m never busy enough.

The Originalist, Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, California; 8 p.m., Tues. – Fri.; 4 and 8 p.m. Sat., and 2 p.m., Sunday. (There will be one Sunday evening performance at 7 p.m. on April 30); $25 – $80; For information:, 626-356-7529.