Saturday, July 5, 2014

Spotlight On...Donna Lynne Champlin

Name: Donna Lynne Champlin

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Education: BFA from Carnegie Mellon University, Oxford University

Favorite Credits: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen, NYMF), Hollywood Arms (Older Helen, Broadway), Dark at The Top of the Stairs (Cora Flood, Off Broadway).

Why theater?: Because financial stability is for suckers.

Tell us about ValueVille?: I like to describe ValueVille as No Exit meets A Chorus Line. I discovered it when was a judge for the 2014 NYMF season and it was my #1 pick for the festival. It’s a really funny, smart, unique piece that explores many different subjects (and realities) all under this very cohesive Costco-esque kind of umbrella. Our official press release calls ValueVille “a razor-sharp comedic journey about the price we pay at the final checkout.”, and I’d have to agree.

What inspired you to direct ValueVille?: Rowen Casey, the writer, lyricist and composer of ValueVille read my dramaturgical notes as one of the season’s judges and he asked NYMF if I would be interested in directing the piece. Up until now I have always said no when asked to direct, but I just couldn’t say no to ValueVille. And then when I talked to RC on the phone and found out what an absolute joy of a person he is (besides being monumentally talented), I very quickly realized I’d be a complete idiot to pass on the chance to work on such a great show with such a great collaborator.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: The theatrical experiences that make me walk out either feeling or thinking something differently than when I walked in is my jam. It’s about the emotional alchemy of a show. I can forgive a lot of technical problems, lack of talent, etc. if the truth and the heart of the story telling are there. I like artsy stuff, classical stuff, commercial stuff, musicals, plays...I’m just as happy at R and J as I am at Book of Mormon. As long as it moves me, I’m a fan. What inspires me as an artist? Courage. Above all else, courage. Otherwise, I just don’t see the point.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I’d love to work with the "Waiting For Guffman" gang, honestly. Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, I mean…come on. That’s a good time, right? I love that they all combine comedy and truth and music and heart so brilliantly in everything they do. And I also very much appreciate their dedication to the “rep company” aesthetic. The acting troupe dynamic is even rare in the theatre now, so they’re kind of like the unicorns of film making, when you think about it. I just dig everything about them and I’d like to come play.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Sleep No More is always my go to for people looking for a mind-blowing theatrical experience. I just think it’s astonishing on so many levels.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
Uhmmmmmmm, I would play myself. And it would be called “The Only Time DLC Will Ever Be The Obvious Casting Choice To Star In Movie”, the movie.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Halloween haunted hayrides.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "Five Little Monkeys" (I have  three year old. Nothing is sacred.).

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be_____?: I would be a writer. Absolutely. A humorist or an essayist, maybe. I mean, I am a writer now, actually (not that you can tell from my atrocious grammar). But I think I could easily devote myself to writing as a primary career if I weren’t in the theatre.

What’s up next?: In the fall there is a concert benefit performance at The Mark Taper Forum in CA of Hollywood Arms, a play I did on Broadway 12 years ago. Besides that, I’ve kept my calendar pretty clear on purpose so I can take care of my son while my husband plays Javert in Les Miserables this August. So…I’m very happily reporting for Mommy Duty, as it were.