Thursday, September 11, 2014

Spotlight On...Gail M. Phaneuf

Name: Gail M. Phaneuf

Hometown: Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Education: MA in Theatre Education from Emerson College, and MS in Electrical Engineering from UMass Dartmouth

Favorite Credits: Stevie in The Goat or Who is Sylvia, Woman in Laughing Wild (with Durang in the audience), Directing Baby With the Bathwater by Christopher Durang, Writing The Love Note and MONSTERS! A Midlife Musical Meltdown.

Why theater?: Because I tried to leave and be an engineer – and that did not work out.  My calling has always been the stage.  I feel it is the last bastion of real social community. (no cell phones allowed)  A place where you must listen and respond and you can build families with complete strangers.

Tell us about The Love Note: The Love Note Musical began as a short play in a playwriting for youth class at Emerson College.  A friend told me about how her mother used to write a little note in her lunch every day and I thought that was so amazing.  My mother wanted us to make our own lunches – probably because I was extremely picky.  But I thought that was kind of amazing that someone took the time to write a note to their daughter every day and put it in their lunch.  I wrote the short play and I thought at the time – “this would make such a fun musical”.  I was writing another musical at the time MONSTERS! A Midlife Musical Meltdown with my collaborator Ernie Lijoi.  I eventually came back to  The Love Note and the music began to pour out.   It’s a true labor of love and I think that it means so much to me that the kids who see it and are in it really relate on so many levels.  So do the adults!

What inspired you to write The Love Note?: My friend Beth Healy who told me her mother Arlene used to write her notes in her lunch.  Such a small gesture – packed with love.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love so many different kinds of theatre.  I especially like absurd comedy and contemporary musical theatre.  I am very big on story and characters, so the “review” type of shows don’t speak to me as much.  I love to discover and uncover the story as it unfolds.  I want to be challenged and moved.  I am a great audience member because I am a audibly appreciative of the work being done.  I laugh and cry and applaud.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Of course Meryl Streep. And I absolutely love Cherry Jones.  I’ve been a huge fan of hers for many years – since she was at the ART.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Vanya, Sonya, Masha and Spike!  I loved it so much.  I laughed so hard – Durang has a way of really hitting my funny bone!

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I think it might be Jodie Foster and it would be called “Impossible Blonde”  (and Blonde is definitely in italics! LOL)

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Swimming and sitting alone at the beach.  Or Swimming with my dog.  Not any real reason to be a guilty pleasure – but I love the water and it’s not always easy to take alone time.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "Summer at Highland Falls" by Billy Joel – but please don’t tell anyone!  It’s such a feel good song for me. (but shows my age!)

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:  I already have so many jobs – that’s a tough one.  I am a computer consultant, a college professor, a screenwriter, a playwright/composer and a Producer/director.  I love all of my jobs (even the ones that make no $$).   I thought about being a short order cook at one time – I think I’d really like doing that!! Maybe at a diner.