Monday, January 18, 2016

Spotlight On...Charlotte Cohn

Name: Charlotte Cohn on stage. And Charlotte Cohn-Williams on all official documents.

Hometown: Born in Copenhagen, raised in Jerusalem and now I call NYC home. I guess I’m a gypsy of sorts. Or just can’t make up my mind.

Education: MFA from the Actors’ Studio Drama School. Aka the school Bradley Cooper attended.

Select Credits: Musetta in La Boheme, directed by Baz Luhrmann. Hallelujah Lil in Happy End at A.C.T. and Ayelet in Handle With Care with Carol Lawrence, written by Jason Odell Williams (my handsome husband).

Why theater?: The chance to have immediate communication with a bunch of people you’ve never met. To convey an idea, an emotion, to transport a person who came in one way and who might leave feeling and thinking a different way. It’s magic. And there is nothing else like it in the world. Also, I grew up with three older sisters who never listened to me. So I chose a profession where everyone has to sit quietly and listen while I finally got to speak my mind ;-)

Who do you play in Rock and Roll Refugee?:  I play Genya Ravan’s mother. Apparently, she is not such a nice person, which is first for me. But I relish it!

Tell us about Rock and Roll Refugee: It’s a musical adaptation telling the life story of Genya Ravan, a Holocaust survivor, who created the first all-female rock and roll band. The show weaves between fantasy and reality using Genya’s music to create an incredibly unique theatrical experience!

What is it like being a part of Rock and Roll Refugee?: It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. The show is truly unique and Genya’s life story is a testament to overcoming hardships to create the life you’ve always dreamed of and are destined for. I’m so honored to be part of telling her story. She is an incredible artist and it’s time for everyone to know her name and hear her story and music – she is one of a kind. And I have to talk about Chris (Christine) Henry, the artistic director of Royal Family Productions and the writer and director of the show: in all my years of working in this business I have never worked with a more creative, generous and passionate writer/director. Chris has been around for a while and I feel inspired and lucky to be working with her. Actors should be lining up!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like theater that entertains me and stays with me long after I’ve left the theater. Recent shows I’ve loved are Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and Here Lies Love. I love when someone takes theater and flips it on its side, shows you a new exciting way it can work you’ve never thought of before. Both those shows stayed with me for days, even months. I still listen to the music of Here Lies Love daily. So innovative. In both cases, I walked out of the theater different than when I walked in. That’s the power of theater.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: My husband, Jason Odell Williams, and I co-wrote a play called Someone Else. It recently had its world premiere at NC Stage (a fantastic place to work, by the way). It is a two-hander and I got to play 4 different characters. I had an insanely good time performing that play and I would love to do it again in NYC. (We’re working on that... stay tuned!) And... Medea. Because Medea.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Oh for Pete’s sakes. I am a trained opera singer and wished I was born with Aretha’s voice. So pick anything in between ;-) But one of my favorites is “Love Like That” from Passing Strange by Stu. That man is a poet and that song went straight into my heart when I heard it and never left.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Derek Jacobi. Hands down. When I was a kid back in Israel my family used to watch the TV series "I, Claudius". It was like watching a weekly master class. He is one of the main reasons I chose acting and I would give anything to share the stage with him. I recently watched him on Netflix in the series "Last Tango in Halifax". If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and watch it now. Mr. Jacobi conveys 150 emotions with his eyes alone, it’s mind blowing!

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Most likely my daughter, Imogen, would play me. She’s 10 now but by the time they make the movie she’ll be ready. “Life, Love and Where Are My Pants” Or “Why Can’t I Stay In Bed All Day and Still Get Paid” Or “The Danish Girl”. Oh, wait, that one’s taken. Honestly, I don’t see anyone making a movie about me. But thanks for asking!

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Gosh, there are so many. I had a ticket to In the Heights and was very sick the night of the show and missed it. Really sad I missed that one. Also wish I could have seen Joan Sutherland sing Norma and Maria Callas sing pretty much anything...

What show have you recommended to your friends?: This one!! Rock and Roll Refugee!! I tell them all to come now before it goes to Broadway and tickets are too expensive... ;-)

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I think this is more an addiction than anything else, but I finally got rid of candy crush and found Subway Surfers instead. Don’t look it up! It will swallow you up! But they are not all vices... I love yoga and Spring Forrest Chi Gong. Keeps me sane.

What’s up next?: Hopefully Rock and Roll Refugee will run forever. But just in case it doesn’t... I am performing in a concert version of the musical A Night in the Old Marketplace written by Glen Berger (Spiderman Turn of the Dark on Broadway) and music by the legendary Frank London. And we have a producer who is working on bringing our play Someone Else (mentioned above) Off Broadway in the fall of 2016. As writers, my husband and I are adapting his book "Personal Statement" into a movie that was optioned by two ex-Miramax producers. And our TV pilot “Birdland” got us signed with a fancy manager out in Hollywood and we hear it’s being considered by several production companies. I’m holding my breath. I’m also producing a reading of my husband’s newest play Church and State that deals with the topic of gun control and religion with humor and heart on April 4th 2016. All proceeds will benefit Sandy Hook Promise.

For more on Charlotte, visit