In Part 6 in a series of interviews with the cast of Danny Boy at Unexpected Stage Company, meet Dawn Thomas Reidy.
Joel: Introduce yourself to our readers and tell them where you received your theater training and where they may have seen you before on the stage?
Dawn: My name is Dawn Thomas Reidy and I am an actor and teaching artist. I earned a BFA in Acting from UMBC and then went on to the MFA Acting program at Indiana University. I have performed with Forum Theatre and Washington Stage Guild, and a lot of shows with Young Playwrights’s Theatre.
Why did you want to get involved with this production of Danny Boy?
I jumped at the chance to work with Chris and the Unexpected Stage family again. This is my fourth show with USC, and each experience has fostered a wonderful sense of ensemble with the actors involved. Danny Boy in particular interested me because it is a story told from a point of view that is not seen on stage. How often are the lives of people in different bodies portrayed on stage?
Had you ever been involved with the show before or heard about the show before?
No on both counts. Totally new territory!
Who are you playing in the show?
Allison, the “hot girl” who would love the world to see her as more than just a “hot girl”.
How do you relate to your character?
Beyond our being about the same age, I think Allison and I would like for people to look deeper, beyond what someone looks like or sounds like, what they do for a living or how they grew up. She does not want to be viewed as a trophy or a brainless bimbo. I’d love for people to get over what they think know about me solely based on the information that I am an actor. And on a much more frank note…Allison knows what she wants in the bedroom and is not afraid to ask for it, demand it, even. She asserts herself when it comes to her desires, and so do I.
How will audiences relate to Allison?
Allison is forward with her sexual fantasies…I think a lot of folks would want to high five her for that.
What do you admire about Allison?
I admire her positivity. I think she is a trusting person, sometimes I feel like I’m too cynical for that. I can’t really say they there is something I don’t admire her for or look down on her for…I mean, the closest thing would be for her to be as emotionally direct with men as she us sexually. But that’s unfair because I can say that looking in from the outside. Relationships and affairs of the heart are messy, I can’t fault her for that.
What have been some of the challenges you have had preparing for your role and how has your director helped you resolve them?
I got pretty caught up in playing a character that is “hot”, and how that is not me. A character that is supposed to be the woman every guy wants. How do I do that? I am not what is mainstream beautiful. I thought about how I needed to lose some weight and get a wig with lots of long hair. Chris never asked this of me or mentioned it, it was what I thought I needed to appease the palates of those with traditional hot girl tastes. Honestly, it wasn’t until we started rehearsals that I was really confronted with how I felt like I had been miscast as the hot girl. Audiences were going to hear about this hot chick and then see me and feel taken out of the story because I couldn’t possibly be the girl Danny was talking about. I had to get over how to play a hottie and just play Allison for what she needs and wants. It’s not just the looks that make her appealing. So, I didn’t diet. And you won’t see me in a wig with lots of long hair. Just me. So I guess not just an artistic challenge, but a personal one too.
What scene in the entire show moves you the most?
There is a scene between Danny and Dori where Danny says things that he hasn’t said before. It makes them both pretty exposed, having to face truths that make them both feel pretty crappy. Scott and Bri play the moments beautifully.
What do you want audiences to take away with them after seeing Danny Boy?
Sometimes the Everyman looks a lot different than you. Race, religion, gender, stature…don’t most of us want the same thing? When we have it, do we even begin to know what to do with it?
Danny Boy plays through October 26, 2014 at Unexpected Stage Company-performing at Randolph Road Theater-4010 Randolph Road, in Silver Spring, MD 20902. For tickets, call (800) 838-3006, or purchase them online.