Laurie Rae Waugh got the exciting news that the plays she is currently helming, RUN THE COURSE & DADDY’S GIRLS, by Norma Mortimer at the American Theatre of Actors, 314 W 54th St, NYC, has been extended through Sunday, March 20 (tonight thru Saturday @ 8pm; Sunday @ 3pm. Call for tickets: (212) 581-3044)
Laurie Rae Waugh, a leading director at ATA, returned to the New York scene with her specialty – family drama. These two intimite tales center on unique circumstances that bring individuals closer. Featured in the cast are Michael Bordwell, Amanda Cannon, Ken Coughlin, Amy Losi, Manny Rey, Tony Scheer, Sky Spallone, and Rooki Tiwari.
RUN THE COURSE: A suicide meant to tear a family apart only brings them closer only to discover it might not be a suicide at all.
DADDY’S GIRLS: A widowed father is at the center of a family controversy involving social status. Can love really conquer all?
OuterStage spoke with Manny Rey and Tony Scheer about the play, their roles, and the theatre:
Tell us about yourself as an artist?
MANNY: I’m very excited to be a part of this show and incredibly pleased to reunite with some of my favorite stage actors at the Sargeant and under the direction of the incomparable, Laurie Rae Waugh. After a rough 2 year hiatus from the stage, I honestly feel right at home working alongside these wonderful performers. My favorite part of being involved in a project like this is the rehearsal process. The process of bringing these characters to life on stage by breaking down the script and really diving into who these people are, what motivates them, and what do they want. Real people, Real Stories, that the audience will connect with.
TONY: As an artist, I act more than anything else, but I also very much enjoy playwriting, and I dabble in directing. There are infinite stories we can tell, and you never know when the story you are telling was one someone in the audience needed to hear. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to give to others in this way.
What obstacles do you encounter in creating your role(s)?
MANNY: I believe that once you have a great story with a great cast and a great director, as we do, then the obstacles are minor. It all comes down to preparation. The time and effort that you put into this role, as a performer, you must then trust yourself enough to let the character live through you on stage and to be believable. That’s our job. Which again, is why I enjoy the process so much.
TONY: The main obstacle I encounter is finding ways for the others to shine, given that my light is so bright. (Just kidding.) No, but I would say that, rather than obstacles, I encounter opportunities. If I have trouble connecting to a line, or a motive, or anything else, I try to use it as an opportunity to expand my perspective. You can’t think only like yourself as an actor. You need to think like everyone, because until you know who your character is, they can be anyone.
Do you think this should be a Broadway play or an off-Broadway play? Why?
MANNY: I believe that any story, whether a play or a musical, whether you’re an actor or a director, you strive for the same thing. Which is to tell the best story you possibly can. Of course, when you mention Broadway, then it clearly implies a bigger venue, meaning also a larger audience and larger budget which brings with it wider exposure. However, my goals as an actor do not change due to the venue. The process is the same.
TONY: I think this play is better suited to Off-Off-Broadway than any other level of theatre here. The stories and themes are more fitting of a smaller, more intimate audience, the better to get drawn in and absorb what the plays have to say.
You’re working in a landmark theatre with one of its premier directors, creating roles in new plays… How does it feel?
MANNY: I feel alive being able to collaborate with such great actors at this very significant Sargeant theatre, at least significant for me, which is the stage where I first collaborated with Laurie Rae Waugh and where we’ve created such complex characters and it’s a joy to be back.
TONY: It’s always an adventure and an honor to work at ATA. I cherish any opportunity to be onstage and do my part to tell a story, and it’s a special treat to be working with Amy, Manny, Rooki and especially Laurie to do it.
MANNY: What’s next? That’s a good question. I’m confident that as society, slowly but surely, opens up after such a tumultuous time due to this pandemic, that theatre will open strong and that the public is ready to watch great performances, great stories, and just have a wonderful time. I know that I am ready to be a part of those stories and to open myself up to all kinds of possibilities as an actor.
TONY: This was my first project since the pandemic began, so I’m getting back into it slowly. After the show, my focus will simply return to what it typically is: trying to do my small part to make the world a better, more equitable place for all.