In Part 5 of a series of interviews with the cast of Nunsense at Wolf Pack Theatre Company, meet Jamie Crowne.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell us where local theatregoers may have seen you perform on the stage.
My name is Jamie Crowne. I’m in a 2nd career. After working 25 years at NPR, I decided to have a go at my first passion – theater. Last fall, I was part of a staged reading at Anacostia Arts Center – Elementary Division, directed by Marshal Opie. Also, I had the lead role of Gloria West in a new play, The Keys, by Theater for Justice, which was performed at Busboys and Poets. On the TV side, I was an extra in 2 episodes of House of Cards, and 2 episodes of VEEP.
Have you ever thought about becoming a nun? Is there a Sister/nun who helped you in your lifetime who you admire?
I briefly considered a religious vocation while I was in college. At the time I was attending St. Joseph College, a Catholic women’s college in Emmitsburg, MD. I was exposed to some very impressive nuns, especially Sr. Margaret Flinton, who was the Dean of Students. She had travelled the world and presented a worldly demeanor which I had not previously associated with a nun’s life. Also, some of the students I shared classes with were nuns or novices around my own age, whom I could relate to as friends. But, I was already in a serious relationship with the person who was to become (and still is!) my husband.
Who do you play in Nunsense and what do you admire the most about your character? Are there any personality traits that you both share?
I’m the Reverend Mother. She takes her responsibilities seriously, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously. I like to think that I’m that way too.
This will be the first performance of Nunsense that I have seen being performed in a church. How do you feel about performing this show in a church? Is there anything in the script that you feel may be a little ‘unholy’ that a real Reverend Mother may want to hit you over the knuckles with a ruler for?
Certain words – hell and crap, for example – would definitely provoke a rap of the knuckles (but Reverend Mother says them!).
What will performing Nunsense on a ‘holy’ stage add to the audience’s experience?
That’s a hard call. It may make church-goers a little uncomfortable. But the incongruity of the nun’s behavior and the church setting certainly increases the humor of the play.
Dan Goggin has written ‘solos’ for each of you. Tell us about your big number(s) and what we learn about your character as you perform them. What is your favorite line or lyric in your big number? And why?
My favorite part is actually right before the solo, when the audience learns how she came to be a nun in the first place (but I don’t want to give it away!) And then, I love the business during the song when she acts out something from her prior life (again – I don’t want to give it away).
What song that your fellow castmates sing moves you the most and makes you laugh the most?
I’m moved when Sister Robert Anne sings “Growing Up Catholic;” I can relate to it. It’s hard to pick a favorite for laughs, but I’m looking forward to seeing Sister Mary Amnesia perform “So You Want to be a Nun.”
What are some of the themes of Nunsense and lessons that Nunsense has to share with the audience?
In a roundabout way, I guess the theme is “God provides.” At each crisis, the nuns prayed for God help and their prayers were always answered.
What are some of the ‘Do’s and Dont’s’ that Director William Leary has told all of you and what are some of the best suggestions and directions that he has given you that has made your performance better?
We’re still in early stages of rehearsal, so I don’t have a great answer for this yet. But, he has told us to play it big and broad. I haven’t done a musical for quite awhile, so this was very helpful.
Why do you think Nunsense is still so popular after all these years?
Because it’s FUNNY! Although a lot of the humor is in the incongruity of the nuns performing this material, I think everyone can relate to the “let’s put on a show” plot, as well as the foibles of interpersonal relationships in a communal society.
Have you ever appeared in another performance of Nunsense?
When was the first time you saw Nunsense performed? And if you did, which Sister was your favorite then?
After Bill asked me to audition, I watched the youTube videos. Hard to pick a favorite, but I’d say Sister Robert Anne. Her enthusiasm is infectious.
Which Sister in Nunsense is most like you and why?
I probably have a lot of the Reverend Mother in me. I’m definitely a rule-follower, and I expect as much of others as I expect of myself – and I’m sometimes a little too blunt in letting them know. Also, I definitely believe in the power of prayer.
What new ‘habits’ as an actress have you developed while rehearsing and being part of this divine experience?
I haven’t done a musical in a very long time. I’m trying hard to develop the habit of daily vocal practice, warm-ups before rehearsals, and generally taking care of my voice.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you singing and dancing and having a great time performing in Nunsense?
I just want everyone to have a great time. And, of course, I want them to think that the performance (especially mine!) was great.
Nunsense opens April 10, 2015 and plays through April 19, 2015 at St. John Lutheran Church – 5820 Riverdale Road, in Riverdale, MD. For tickets, call (240) 271-5471, or purchase them online, or at the door.
Meet the Cast of ‘Nunsense’ at Wolf Pack Theatre Company: Part 1: Joanna Matthews.
Meet the Cast of ‘Nunsense’ at Wolf Pack Theatre Company: Part 2: Melanie Pino-Elliott.
Meet the Cast of ‘Nunsense’ at Wolf Pack Theatre Company: Part 3: Linda Whiting.
Meet the Cast of ‘Nunsense’ at Wolf Pack Theatre Company: Part 4: Brigid K. Lally.
Meet the Cast of ‘Nunsense’ at Wolf Pack Theatre Company: Part 5: Jamie Crowne.
Meet the Cast of ‘Nunsense’ at Wolf Pack Theatre Company: Part 6: Francine Kent.