Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Spotlight On...Patricia Noonan
Hometown: Havertown, PA
Education: Boston College
Select Credits: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (Elizabeth Bennett, NYMF); Death Takes a Holiday (Sophia, Roundabout Theatre); Where's Charley?, Girl Crazy (City Center Encores!); Signs of Life (Lorelei, Off-Broadway); Carousel (Julie Jordan, Barrington Stage); Sondheim at 80 (Featured Soloist, Kennedy Center); Little House on the Prairie (original cast, Guthrie Theatre); Hurricane (NYMF); How to Succeed... (Rosemary), Ragtime (Evelyn Nesbit), Man of La Mancha (Antonia) all at the White Plains Performing Arts Center.
Why theater?: Theater lets me challenge myself, learn about others, and tell great stories. I was once given the advice, “Everything that you need or want to do to become a better person will make you a better actor, and vice versa.” Every day I am finding how true this advice is and I am blessed to be in a career that challenges me to be open, fearless, curious, playful, loving, flexible, giving, grateful, humble, joyful, passionate, a good listener, etc. Theater also gives me the opportunity to learn empathy for all kinds of people in all walks of life and from all time periods. I guess partially my answer to “why theater?” is I love learning. But I also love telling stories. And there is something amazing about theater – about the immediacy of a great story being told live – that allows the audience to feel, to question, to release emotion, to gain new empathy themselves, to learn something, to laugh, to cry…it doesn’t always happen but when it does you know it. I have been lucky enough to tell some great stories and I hope I can continue to do so for years to come.
Tell us about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is just one of those great stories. What’s so wonderful about this piece is that it is not just the great love story that everyone knows and loves but it is also a story about the process of writing, of creation. The writers have framed the well-known story of Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane, Bingley, etc, with the character of Jane Austen herself revisiting her manuscript “First Impressions” and her decision to revise the story (ten years later) and make it the now famous “Pride and Prejudice.” The characters get to interact with their author and it adds a whole other layer and journey to an already wonderful story.
What is it like to be a part of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice?: I am so proud and honored to be part of this cast, this creative team, and this project. I never wanted to leave work at the end of the rehearsal day! Selfishly, I just love playing Elizabeth Bennett – as a young female actress rarely do I get to be fiery, intelligent, and witty in addition to being vulnerable and falling in love (especially in a musical!). I think part of the reason Elizabeth and Darcy’s romance has captured the imagination for two hundred years is that they are full blooded, flawed people who are able to bring out the best in each other and admit their mistakes so that they can be together. And beyond that, I get to be a part of an incredibly talented cast – you couldn’t have asked for anyone better in any single slot in this show – who all give and take so well together and a creative team that really allowed us all to be collaborators in this process. So what’s it like to be a part of this show? Awesome.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as artists?: The kind of theater that speaks to me is the kind of theater that made me want to do this in the first place: great storytelling. It can be the silliest comedy or the most gut wrenching tragedy, the most traditional structure or the most experimental – if the play makes me think, feel, question, see something differently, or just laugh so hard I’m crying it’s probably great storytelling. Again, you know it when you see it. A song by Sondheim can do it in two minutes. The actors in the Barrow Street production of Our Town did it with a table and chairs while wearing street clothes (with some help from Wilder of course).
Any roles you’re dying to play?: I think some of the roles I’m most dying to play are the ones like the one I’m doing right now – the complicated, multifaceted ones I get to create. So some of my “dream roles” (I hope) haven’t even been written yet. I would also love to play Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Marian in The Music Man, Dot in Sunday in the Park (really, any Sondheim character in any show), Mother in Ragtime, and Guinevere in Camelot (one of the only shows I could ever get my brothers to act out with me growing up – thanks to the presence of swords) to name a few.
What’s your favorite show tune?: Wow. If I have to pick one I think I’m going to pick “The Sound of Music” from The Sound of Music. That musical is one of the first musicals I remember watching (and watching, and watching, and watching) and has a great deal of import in my family. It is one of the first songs I can remember singing and it always makes me think of my grandparents. Plus, it’s a song about what a gift (and saving grace) music is to us: “My heart will be blessed with the sound of music and I’ll sing once more.”
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Established composers like Sondheim, Guettel, Ahrens and Flaherty (I just got to work with Maury Yeston – but I could put him on the list again!), up and coming composers, and actresses like Victoria Clark, Audra McDonald, Laura Linney (I was just lucky enough to work with Rebecca Luker – but I could put her on here as well) because I learn so much just from watching them.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Well I think we’d have to wait quite a few more years to make a movie of my life worth making – so I would wager that the actress to play “young me” has not been born yet! And I'm going to say the title is TBD as well.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: Well I’ve been recommending The Book of Mormon, Follies, and Sleep No More – so I guess I want to live vicariously through my friends because these are all the shows I want to see and have not gotten to see yet!
What’s up next?: Up next are a few firsts. I am heading out to the west coast for the first time to play Lily in The Secret Garden at Theatre Works Palo Alto. I also have my first official Cast Album coming out – look for the Death Takes a Holiday cast album starting October 11th!
To learn more about Patricia, visit http://www.patricianoonan.com/