Judyisms: ‘When You Do Such a Good Job People Confuse You With the Character!’ by Judy Stadt

About 20 years ago I had the pleasure of playing the role of Madge Kendall in The Elephant Man. It was an amazing production at The Penguin Repertory Theatre,
in Stony Point NY and I loved every minute of it. It may be hard to believe but I had always been a modest kid, although my demeanor didn’t suggest that … what can I
say? I’m complicated.

Illustration by Judy Stadt.

Anyway, I had seen Carole Shelley do the part on Broadway and she was superb, I loved the play and was thrilled to be cast in it. Rehearsals went very well and Joe Brancato, my director, assured me that there wouldn’t be any problem with NOT revealing myself to the audience (even though it was written in the play), he said he would just angle me so that there would be a “suggestion” of nudity but I had nothing to fear. Well, each rehearsal he asked me to “turn a little bit more out front” until I was completely swinging in the breeze. OK, I did it, I was proud of my performance and it was not indiscriminate nudity, there was a reason, a purpose under heaven, and I did it OK. Done!

About a week after the play closed I got a telephone call from a woman who introduced herself as a “caretaker” of a young man who had never been with a woman or seen a woman nude upfront in the flesh. She said he was critically ill and asked me to come to their home and “reveal” myself to this young man. The thing is this: I was pleased that she took my performance so to heart that she thought I WAS that character: AND I felt badly for the young man that she was taking care of,  BUT my position was that she should hire a woman who did this for a living, but certainly not me.

Judy Stadt.

I think that was an unusual and interesting happening that came out of one of my performances, don’t you?

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