Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spotlight On...Melissa Hurst

Name: Melissa Hurst

Hometown: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Education: College: NYU Tisch School of the Arts (Acting Major)

Select Credits: Most recent: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at (Big Mama, Oldcastle Theatre Company); Earliest: got my Equity card performing in the New York premiere of Len Jenkin’s Dark Ride at Soho Rep. Other people in the cast included Joanne Akalaitis, William Sadler and Will Patton. Todd Alcott’s One Neck at the Atlantic Theatre Company (Allison Janney was also in the cast). Catherine Butterfield’s play Life In The Trees at GeVa Theatre – I played opposite Josh Brolin, “Law And Order” and a recurring role on “Guiding Light”,  Narrator of Audio Books (most recent recording: "The Energies Of Love" by Donna Eden and David Feinstein, non-fiction)

Why theater?: Theatre is a one-of-a-kind human experience. People gather in a room for a live performance that will be unique to that one time and that one combination of human beings.  Unlike say, sports, or movies, or concerts, there will be no subsequent playback on the evening news, no video on you-tube, no future showings on HBO. Theatre is magical in this way.

Who do you play in The Bellagio Fountain Has Been Known To Make Me Cry?: I play Dixie, a woman in mid-life who is fun and funny and full of longings.

Tell us about The Bellagio Fountain Has Been Known To Make Me Cry: It is a compelling story about a mother and a grown daughter and a plumber, all struggling with life issues related to water. It also has stunning visual effects: a world of water is created live on stage during the course of the play.

What is it like being a part of The Bellagio Fountain Has Been Known To Make Me Cry?: I adore the script and the people involved in this production, so working on it is a pleasure. I also feel a great deal of responsibility, as I care very much about doing the project justice.

What kind of theatre speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I find myself most drawn to theatre performed in fairly intimate spaces. As for the plays themselves, I love scripts  that combine irreverent humor and deep human feeling. An example of that, for me, is August: Osage County. Another example, by the way, is The Bellgio Fountain Has Been Known To Make Me Cry!

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Yes! Some Of Them Are: Amanda In The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Martha In Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, any role in August: Osage County by Tracy Letts

What’s your favorite showtune?: “Sit Down You’re Rocking The Boat” from Guys And Dolls

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Actors: James Earl Jones, Tom Hanks, Margo Martindale, Greg Kinnear. Director: Dan Sullivan

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I’d love to have Abigail Breslin (from “Little Miss Sunshine”) play me. As for a title, hmmm:  “To Her Chagrin”  – a pun on my hometown?, or “Her Lust And Her Fury”, because one of my favorite reviews described me as “passionate in both her lust and her fury” – ha! ha!

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The original Broadway productions of A Streetcar Name Desire and Oklahoma!

What shows have you recommended to your friends?: The Groundling by Marc Palmieri, which played earlier this year at the Axis Theatre in NY. It’s just been published by Dramatists Play Service. Fish In The Dark by Larry David, now playing on Broadway at the Cort Theatre. It’s not a perfect play, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. And the line in the play that informs the title is hysterical. I laugh every time I think of it.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Although I am an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction, when I’m feeling stressed, I will buy and read The National Enquirer!  (I once went to hear Dominic Dunne speak at a book-signing event, and he told the crowd that he subscribed to The National Enquirer, which I found very reassuring.)

What’s up next?: Aside from a family trip to North Carolina, I have no idea. Something always turns up eventually! I am writing a series of real-life stories about living in the East Village in the 1970’s. (A Midwestern gal moves to the crime-ridden East Village: comedy ensues…)

For more on Melissa, visit