Meet the Cast of ‘Death By Design’ at Greenbelt Arts Center: Part 3: Meet Shelley Rochester

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In Part 3 in a series of interviews with the cast of Death By Design at Greenbelt Arts Center, meet Shelley Rochester.

Shelley Rochester.
Shelley Rochester.

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

My name is Shelley and I’ve been involved in local theater for nearly 26 years. I’ve performed at multiple theaters in the area, playing sisters, mothers, grandmothers, maids, widows and wives. I’ve managed to bring the audience to tears; cry with laughter; and have even received standing ovations. I loved playing Bubbe in Crossing Delancey. Just a handful of others are Crimes of the Heart, Red Herring, Cemetery Club, and Enchanted April. I have been nominated for awards by WATCH and the One-Act Festival, from which I did win Best Actress for Love Letters.

Why did you want to be in Death By Design at Greenbelt Arts Center?

I love auditioning for and being a part of GAC again. I have been in numerous productions here, most notably The Women and Crossing Delancey. I was looking forward to another project at GAC.

Who do you play in Death By Design and how do you relate to her?

I play the role of Bridgit, an alternately crabby/motherly maid. She’s a strong character and a bit sassy…much like me.

What do you admire about your character and what do you not admire?

Bridgit is very self assured and confident, so even though the play is set in the ’30’s, she is very progressive and modern in that sense. She fearlessly takes charge and relished the role, whether it’s “party-ing” in the home while the owners are away or taking over the murder investigation.

On the other hand, she is the antithesis of someone “in service”: unafraid to speak up to or about her employers, moving about the home as if she is their equal.

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

This role required adopting a cockney accent and although I have been channeling Mrs. Bridges from Upstairs, Downstairs, there were some tricky phrasings and pronunciations with which our dialog coach, Pauline Griller-Mitchell, helped. Also, performing with such a tall cast requires a lot of…looking up. Ann Lowe, our director, has given me a good amount of freedom in developing my character and interpreting my lines.

What is your big highlight in the show and what do we learn about your character when you perform it?

My favorite part of the play is in the first act with Mr. B, where I basically open up to the audience: what my interests and inclinations are, and just how clever and bright I am, despite being “just a maid.”

What have you learned about yourself during this whole process?

Onstage, I can switch from crabby to tender without losing credibility as long as I present myself with sincerity.

What do you want audiences to take with them after watching you perform in Death By Design?

The programs off the floor so we don’t have to clean them up.

Death by Design plays from November 7 -23,  2014 at Greenbelt Arts Center – 123 Centerway, in Greenbelt, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 441-8770, or purchase them online.

LINKS

Meet the Cast of ‘Death By Design’ at Greenbelt Arts Center:Part 1: Meet Jill Vanderweit.

Meet the Cast of ‘Death By Design’ at Greenbelt Arts Center: Part 2: Meet Sarah K. Scott.

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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.

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