Meet the Cast of ‘Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown’ at American University: Meet Patrick Kavanagh

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In our series of interviews with the director and cast of American University’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, meet cast member Patrick Kavanagh.

Joel: Introduce yourself to our readers and tell them what other shows you have appeared in and some of the roles you have played.

Patrick: My name is Patrick Kavanagh and I am a sophomore double major in Broadcast Journalism and Musical Theatre. I have been acting and singing for 13 years. This is my third performance at American University. Outside of AU, my favorite shows that I have been in include Pippin (Pippin), The Paper Chase (Hart), and All Shook Up (Dennis).

Patrick Kavanagh. Photo by Meriam Salem.
Patrick Kavanagh. Photo by Meriam Salem.

Why did you want to be in Women on the Verge… at AU? What did you sing at your audition?

I auditioned with the song “Don’t Let Me Go” from Shrek. The reason I wanted to be in Women on the Verge… was simply because I love theatre. Very rarely has there ever been a show where I say “I don’t want to do that” or “I’m not interested.” Ever since I was a kid, theatre has been something I have strived to be a part of, so I couldn’t imagine not wanting to do anything.

Had you seen the show on Broadway, and if yes, what did you like the most about it and what did you not like about it? Why do you think it only ran for 69 performances?

I have seen clips, but did not see the live performance. The show only enjoyed a short run because, although the run had notable talent (Patti LuPone and Brian Stokes Mitchell, who is one of my biggest idols), the set itself seemed to confuse audiences.

What does Women on the Verge… have to say to your generation of theatregoers?

To our generation of theatregoers, Women On The Verge… has a message we all can relate to: you may think you are praying for one thing, but you actually need something else. The show emphasizes the message that things may be crazy at times, but things can always work out for the best.

Who do you play in Women on the Verge… and how do you relate to him?

I play Carlos, a character whose burning emotions are buried beneath the surface initially until it suddenly bursts out. Carlos also becomes tangled around his own emotions, confused about whether to let his passion break through. As a person, I tend to keep things under the surface, wanting to please people first instead of speaking my mind. Carlos does the same thing; he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, even if it kills him on the inside.

What have been the challenges you have encountered while preparing for your role and how have you overcome these challenges? How did your director, Carl Menninger, help you to overcome these challenges?

I had challenges with the role initially, as Carlos’ highest note in the show is a full 2 steps above the highest note I’ve ever sustained onstage. I initially struggled with how not to play Carlos as too much of a punching bag. Carl Menninger and I worked together on how to still present Carlos as a strong character, working specifically on posture and vocal strength. I also worked on specific moments where Carlos’s passion shines through, those specific times like “Microphone” and “Tangled. Carl and I both worked on how I could have more fun in the part, and I think over the past couple of months, I have started to do just that.

What are your solos in the show and what do we learn about your character when you sing it/them?

Every time Carlos has a solo, such as “Island (Reprise)” or “Microphone” or “Tangled” or “Crazy Heart,” you are hearing his true emotions. Until the end of the show, Carlos rarely confesses his real feelings through spoken word. In a sense, Carlos himself is what a musical is all about: the reason Carlos sings is because the emotion is too great and the stakes are too high for him to simply just talk. Through these songs, you learn that Carlos isn’t a mama’s boy and he isn’t a pushover. Carlos wants things just like everyone else.

What have you learned about yourself – the actor and singer- during this whole process?

I’ve grown a tremendous amount during this performance process. As a singer who has always prided himself on being able to go lower than anyone, I was astonished how much I was able to grow my upper range for this part. As an actor, I learned how to play a character much deeper than the surface level. I learned much more about how to play a complex character who can feel many different things at the same time.

How do you describe the David Yazbek score you get to sing?

The Yazbek score is something that is intricate while at the same time being extremely different. It is truly unlike anything I’ve ever sung before.

The women of ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.’ From left to right: Linda Bard, Kendra McNulty, Izzy Smelkinson, Kendall Helblig, and  Nia Calloway.' Photo by Murugi Thande.
The women of ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.’ From left to right: Linda Bard, Kendra McNulty, Izzy Smelkinson, Kendall Helblig, and Nia Calloway.’ Photo by Murugi Thande.

What is your favorite song that you are not performing and why? What is your favorite scene in the show and why?

My favorite song to watch is “Invisible,” sung by Lucia (Linda Bard). Linda performs the song itself to perfection; she sings the song with the insanity that is Lucia, but manages her emotions perfectly. Upon hearing the song for the first time, I found it very simple. However, once I started listening to the song, I simply started crying. The lyrics are so sad, but Linda plays this part so well; there are simply no words to describe how well she plays the complexity of emotions that come with this song.

What do you want audiences to take with them after watching you perform in Women on the Verge…?

After watching Women on the Verge…, I want people to see all the talent that American University has to offer. Many times, our stellar IR and poly-sci programs, just to name a few, overshadow the arts at AU. However, the talent in the Department of Performing Arts at American University is outstanding, and every time I step in a classroom with the professors and my fellow actors, I am reminded what a privilege it is to share the space with such outstanding performers, teachers, and directors. I am truly blessed every day to learn from my fellow actors and my director.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown plays through October 25, 2014 at American University’s The Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre – 4200 Wisconsin Avenue, in Washington DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 885-2587, or purchase them online.

Performance Dates:
October 24-25, 2014 at 8 PM and October 25, 2014 at 2 PM. 

LINKS
Read Douglas Lloyd’s review of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown on DCMetroTheaterArts.

Meet the Director and Cast of American University’s ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’: Meet Director Carl Menninger.

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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.