Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spotlight On...Jessica Frey

Name: Jessica Frey

Hometown: Lexington, KY

Education: NYU, Tisch, Atlantic Acting School

Select Credits: Bedlam's Sense & Sensibility; Clown Bar, and Giant Killer Slugs with Pipeline Theatre Company

Why theater?: Because of the gigantic paychecks. Just kidding. Because how could you possibly do something more enjoyable than acting like a fool for an hour and change and allowing audience members to blow off steam, or empathize, or learn, or just laugh? Perhaps that was overly sentimental, but ain't it the truth?

Who do you play in Uncle Function?: Woman.

Tell us about Uncle Function: Uncle Function is a sketch group with Alex Fast, Chris Cafero, Douglas Goodhart, Russell Daniels, Gianmarco Soresi, and yours truly. We've been together for about a year. We've competed and won at a handful of Backyard Brawls at UCB, and we've performed at places like The Pit, and our home, The Ken Davenport Theater. We're kooky, we're wacky, we are Uncle Function. But for real, we're just a bunch of people that make each other laugh.

What is it like being a part of Uncle Function: It's kind of a wild ride because we're all so individually busy. I'm in the middle of a long run of Bedlam's Sense & Sensibility (eight shows a week), Douglas is the lead singer of an amazing soul band, Russell just got engaged, Alex just got accepted to grad school, Gianmarco is the face of GE, and Chris has a beautiful face and is always hand modeling or something. It's insane trying to schedule rehearsals, let alone perform. But somehow we manage.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Wow. I have approximately one million answers to this question. I think the kind of theater I like the most is the kind that doesn't take itself too seriously but is trying to say something very serious. Right now I'm very inspired by the theater company I'm working with, Bedlam. They're not afraid to take big chances and they're not afraid to be a little dumb. Audiences seem to be liking it. Also one of my main comedy influences is my friend, John Early. He is the hardest working man in show business and I think he's brilliant. His brand of humor is so smart and so unique. If you're somehow reading this, hey boo.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: If I'm being real, Juliet. Mostly people think I'm too weird (and now too old, oops) to play that part, but it's the reason I wanted to be an actor. Her language in that play is the best language ever (only slightly better than this sentence). Plus, I'm tired of the standard ingenue reading of the role. I think it's very easy to put women, and women's roles, into a very small box. It happens all the time. Audiences are more comfortable with a safe, non-threatening woman. But women are wild and complex. And if you actually read Romeo and Juliet, girl is anything but "safe". So that's the dream. I think I could kill it.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Oh lord. This is truly the hardest question thus far. I'm gonna go with "Sabbath Prayer" from Fiddler on the Roof (literally no one has said that answer before. Ever. But it makes me cry every time.) Or "On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Frances Conroy has inspired me so much. Her work in Six Feet Under is breathtaking. Or Frances McDormand. She's brilliant in everything. So I guess anyone named "Frances".

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Tina Fey. "Witchy Woman".

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?:  That production of Our Town at Barrow Street. I heard such amazing things, and it was such a sensory experience that it wouldn't be the same if I watched it at the library at Lincoln Center. Or like, the original West Side Story.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: All of Bedlam's productions. Jerusalem. Atlantic did a fantastic revival of Cloud Nine last year. John Early's Showgasm, or anything with John.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I love Survivor.

What’s up next?: I'm getting married to the coolest dude ever in August, so that's big. I'm also continuing the run of Sense & Sensibility. Plus I'm writing and acting in a new series with some incredibly talented women (it's an all female writing team, which is pretty sweet). We're filming at the end of May. And of course, as many Uncle Functions as I can get my hands on. Needless to say, I try to keep busy.