The Women of the Jeffs talk with Eric and Andy
As everyone knows, here in Chicago we celebrate excellence in the theatrical arts with the Joseph Jefferson Awards. The nominations were recently released for the Equity Jeff Awards, and we noticed three young artists that have really made the grade after working in the non-Equity storefront scene for years. Golden throated Bethany Thomas was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Musical for her work as Serena in The Gershwin's Porgy And Bess at the Court Theatre. Erica Weiss and Caitlin Parrish, a director and writer who thrive on their professional relationship as well as their friendship, wrote A Twist Of Water for the Route 66 Theatre Company which was nominated for Best New Work - Play. We invited them to McClannahan's Irish Pub and Health Spa in Hyde Park where we sipped the finest fruit juices, had our parts worked, and gabbed, gabbed, gabbed!
Hey guys! Thanks for meeting us at this spa on the Southside of Chicago!
Caitlin Parrish: Always happy to exfoliate with the Irish.
Erica Weiss: My pores have never felt more open and alive.
Bethany Thomas: Glad to be here!
You three have had AMAZING 2011s so far, culminating in huge Jeff nominations for your work in the Chicago theatre scene! I mean, we are proud to be wearing robes with you!
CP: Thanks, Eric. It's been a fun ride. But nothing's surprised or delighted me more than finding out you have the dainty calves of a 14 year old ballerina.
BT: He certainly is full of surprises.
EW: You guys are wearing robes? Ooops....
Don't worry, Erica. Everyone knows you are a "free spirit". So, can you tell us what each other is nominated for in the Equity Jeff Awards?
CP: Bethany, I believe, is nominated for best voice ever. I'm sorry, Best Voice EVAH.
BT: Oh geez. I actually got to see Caitlin and Erica's show and it was freaking awesome.
EW: Caitlin is nominated for writing a play, I think? I might have co-created that business, and then directed it on the sly.
CP: I have no idea what you're all talking about. I live in Hollywood now.
Man, women be shoppin'! Anyway, Erica & Caitlin are responsible for Mayor Rahm's favorite and only show he's ever seen A Twist Of Water. And Bethany was blowing the roof off the place in Porgy & Bess. Wait, isn't Porgy & Bess about old black people?
BT: Half right.
CP: What's the other half?
BT: I mean it's a love story for the ages. About black people.
I think I know some of the music from that one. Were you good in it?
BT: Ha! Well I got alright once I learned the music. Yes indeed, there's a bunch of familiar songs but this was the first time I'd actually learned the story that ties them together. I played Serena, a supporting character who loses her husband at the hand of Bess' boyfriend slash pimp. Lots of that crazy, rewarding emotional stuff.
Sounds like a real crowdpleaser! You've also done a lot of work at Theo Ubique, is that right?
BT: Heck yes! LOVE Theo. Love Fred Anzevino, love the vibe... usually love the No Exit. We did a Harold Arlen review there last year that just got revived at Theatre On the Lake. Big fun, but lots of spiders.
What a fun time! Hey Bethany, one last question for ya, before we move to the massages. If you and your other nominees in your category were race horses, what would your odds be?
BT: I don't know if you could have put it in a more unfamiliar analogy for me!
I know what my odds for Bethany are! My heart loves you to rainbows!
BT: I appreciate that. I'm sure that's the support I'll need to break from the pack and cross the finish line first.
Erica, I love that you are naked here in this steam room. Tell us about your directing job and have some water with cucumber.
EW: Thank you! So refreshing. Well, I've been working as a collaborator with Ms Caitlin Parrish for about 8 years now. I've directed all of her plays. This was the first play we've had produced that has my name on it as co-creator. What that means, and Caitlin can elaborate on this when Sergio is done working on the knots in her neck, is that we conceived of the characters and story and built the structure of the play together while she wrote all the balls-to-the-wall amazing dialogue. Then she moved to Hollywood, like an asshole, and I moved into rehearsal mode. This was my first equity show and my first directing job with my company, Route 66 Theatre.
Good thing you didn't blow it. How'd it feel when the show started getting all the accolades? Did you guys feel like Armistead Maupin?
CP: It was pretty bawse. And surreal. I wasn't in Chicago when it started happening, so it seemed feasible that it was a lovely, sadistic practical joke that the city might have been playing on me. As for Mr. Maupin, I hope to one day be that much of a 1970s gay man.
EW: I have never felt more Maupin-esque than when Rahm Emanuel hugged me.
CP: Yeah, I missed Rahm, too. (sighs)
Did Sergio finish working on your "neck"?
CP: For now. I have him on call.
You can't treat the help here like your courtesans, Caitlin.
CP: I treat everyone like a courtesan. It's how I show I have the common touch.
EW: That is so true, you guys. (weeps)
CP: Awww, poor kid. Have a twenty.
BT: One has to establish the upper hand immediately.
The pimp hand, if I will, and I WILL. Caitlin, will you be making the trek back to cold, horribly taxed Chicago for the event?
CP: Oh, hells yes. I would step over any number of grandmas and Salvation Army Santas to hang with Phil Dawkins, Lady Weiss, and whoever from the Goodman is bringing the fancy flasks.
Well, it seems like Eric and I are being called into the secret Asian lady room. We hope you guys have a great Jeff season and really stay on top of the game!
EW: I'm not sure those are ladies... but Thank You!!
CP: Always a pleasure, gents. Eric, NO TOUCHING!
BT: It was very nice getting to know you all a little bit more intimately.
Before we go...let's all make it rain one time.
EVERYONE THROWS 20s IN THE AIR.
BT: That's the stuff.
CP: Nobody makes it rain like non-profit theatre artists! Awwwww, yeah!
Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer
Eric Roach and Anderson Lawfer are the founders of www.Reviewsyoucaniews.blogspot.com
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