Meet the Cast of Providence Players of Fairfax’s ‘The Glass Mendacity’ by Chip Gertzog

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Tonight, The Providence Players open The Glass Mendacity, a hilarious comedy parody of some of Tennessee Williams’ most celebrated works: The Glass MenagerieA Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

PPF The Glass Mendacity 200x200 thru 6-13-15

It’s Big Daddy’s birthday and the entire blended family, a comedy cocktail of characters each one more of a caricature than the last, have gathered at Belle Reve to celebrate with sweet tea, cheese balls, cards and brutish, unfettered, southern charm. The Glass Mendacity is a lampooning look into what would happen if all of Williams’ characters came face to face. If you don’t know these plays, don’t fret. The off-kilter and dysfunctional family shenanigans can be enjoyed by all! The production plays through June 13th. Tickets are available online, and at the door.

Michael Donahue and Jayne L. Victor in 'Dinner with Friends.' Photo by Chip Gertzog.
Michael Donahue and Jayne L. Victor in ‘Dinner with Friends.’ Photo by Chip Gertzog.

Director Jayne L. Victor has assembled an outstanding cast for this fast paced production. Victor said, “Casting this show was a tremendous challenge because so many terrifically talented people auditioned. In the end, the deciding factors were: timing, delivery, expressive faces, physicality, improvisational ability and a high energy level. I am confident I made the perfect choices. This cast is not to be missed. I think the audience will really like some of our newcomers, especially the young man playing Brick.”

Chip:
Jayne, why did you want to direct The Glass Mendacity?

Jane: The Glass Mendacity fits nicely with a PPF tradition of well written, vibrant, colorful, and really funny shows. It also presents challenges on the technical side, something that PPF never shies away from. The Glass Mendacity is brilliantly written; marrying Tennessee William’s dialogue with original dialogue for the very interesting intertwined characters.

The Glass Mendacity affords a director the gift of comedy at its finest, as well as the challenge of conveying a memory play. All of the elements and challenges of comedy are part of this play. Comedy is about timing so the ability to get seven characters moving at the same pace to convey familiar emotion and make people laugh out loud is a great task for any director. With this show comes the pressure to make our audience members happy and smile.

What do you want audiences to come away with after seeing The Glass Mendacity?

First and foremost I want the audience to have fun and laugh a lot.There is no greater joy than to afford an audience member the opportunity to put aside worries and just laugh. At the same time I hope the audience will recognize the work by these incredible actors. The ability for these actors to take familiar situations and exaggerate them so that they are recognizable in some form is brilliant. We do this show without an intermission. The pace of the show is so important that I felt a break in the action would be detrimental to the timing. I hope audience members like that as well. The show is 80 minutes, with no intermission.

The Cast of The Providence Players’ 'The Glass Mendacity.' Photo by Chip Gertzog.
The Cast of The Providence Players’ ‘The Glass Mendacity.’ Photo by Chip Gertzog.

Let’s meet the Cast of The Providence Players’ The Glass Mendacity:

Craig Geffrion. Photo by Chip Gertzog.
Craig Geoffrion. Photo by Chip Gertzog.

Craig Geoffrion (Big Daddy DuBois) This is Craig’s 14th season with PPF and his 18th appearance onstage. He has most recently been seen on the PPF stage as Carlson in Of Mice and Men (2014 WATCH nominated Best Play) and as Ernie Cusack in Rumors last spring (also a 2014 WATCH Nominated Best Play). Craig has been personally honored with two WATCH awards, one for set painting for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and one for his performance as Beverly Carlton in PPF’s The Man Who Came to Dinner. Other acting credits with PPF include roles in Side Man, Harvey, Rough Crossing12 Angry MenGeorge Washington Slept HereCash on Delivery, and The Good Doctor, among others.

What attracted you to The Glass Mendacity?

Almost every show I’ve been in has been a comedy.  I get such a thrill from the sound of an audience laughing. My favorite dramatic was role was that of juror number three-the loan hold out-in Twelve Angry Men. In The Glass Mendacity I play Big Daddy. This role enables me to play a bigger than life character full of very funny lines. One of my favorite scenes is where we are playing poker and I yell at someone who gets confused at cards (the way I do in real life). This is my second show under Jayne Victor’s direction. She has such great comedic ideas. I hope the audience enjoys watching The Glass Mendacity as much as we have had acting it out.

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Beth Gilles-Whitehead . Photo by Chip Gertzog.
Beth Gilles-Whitehead . Photo by Chip Gertzog.

Beth Gilles-Whitehead (Amanda DuBois) Beth is an outstanding actress/director as well as a Board Member for PPF. She was most recently seen as The White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with Providence Players. Other roles played with PPF include: Bananas in The House of Blue Leaves, Mame Dennis in Mame, (WATCH nomination) Charlotte Hay in Moon Over Buffalo, M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias, Meg in Crimes of the Heart and Romaine Vole in Witness for the Prosecution, (WATCH nomination). Beth has directed All My Sons which received the Ruby Griffith Award for Overall Excellence. Other directing credits with PPF include Twelfth Night, Waiting in the Wings, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and others. Beth received her MFA in theatre from Cornell University and BA in theatre from the University of Washington in Seattle. Beth spent a decade working as a professional actress, met her husband Dave (PPF actor/director/past president) on stage, and loves teaching and coaching actors.

Chip: Beth, why are you involved in community theatre?

Beth: Because in life we play as children and our imaginations soar and we thrive and delight in life. Doing community theatre is a way of continuing to “play,” soar, delight and work with wonderful people.

Why did you want to appear in this production of The Glass Mendacity?

I think it is a very smart, funny and very clever script. I know all the Tennessee Williams plays referred to and to put them in a condensed form, poke fun and yet be real people, what a blast.

Tell us about the role you play in the show? How does your character relate to the character(s) created by Tennessee Williams?

I play Big Amanda. Big Amanda is a combination of Big Mama from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Amanda in Glass Menagerie. Audience members are also going to be treated to a bit of a twist in my performance that I hope they will enjoy. To see what I mean, you have to see the show!

Beth Whitehead and Michael Donahue. Photo by Chip Gertzog.
Beth Whitehead and Michael Donahue. Photo by Chip Gertzog.

How are you preparing for the role? Are you spending any time going back to the original plays of William’s for inspiration?

Yes, reading the plays and watching the fantastic iconic films made from the plays, but we still are making these characters our own and not imitating the movies. We are using them for reference and flavor to build our roles from. I try to learn most of my lines before rehearsal so when we start, I can dig right in and start “playing”.

What do you hope audiences take away from seeing The Glass Mendacity?

A stomachache from laughing.

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Michael Donahue. Photo by Chip Gertzog.
Michael Donahue. Photo by Chip Gertzog.

Michael Donahue (Stanley Kowalski) appears for the fifth season performing with PPF. His most recent PPF acting credits include Of Mice and Men (George), Dinner With Friends (Tom),Sleuth (Andrew Wyeth), You Can’t Take it With You (G-Man), All My Sons (Joe), and Big Tree Falls (Ray). He Directed PPF’s 2014 Winter production of House of Blue Leaves and Stage Managed for PPF productions of Side ManIt’s a Wonderful Life and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Mike has been seen on stage for Manassas’s professional theatre company Vpstart Crow, where he appeared in leading roles in MacBethImportance of Being Earnest, Romeo and Juliet, and Twelfth Night. Mike has also served as Artistic Director for Playhouse on the Square’s Professional Theatre for Youth in Memphis, TN. He was Associate Artistic Director for HITT Productions responsible for writing, directing and fight direction for large performance events. His other directing credits include: The Merchant of Venice, VPStart Crow, Manassas VA., Nothing Sacred, Circuit Playhouse, Memphis TN., Tom Sawyer, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Magicians Nephew, Playhouse on the Square Professional Theatre for Youth, Memphis TN., The Tell Tale Heart, The Murders at the Rue Morgue, HITT Productions, Poconos PA., The Glass Menagerie, Extremities,  Lord Byron, original one man show, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN. Mike was a member of the Society of American Fight Directors (1984-2000) and staged fights all over the eastern seaboard. Mike has a BFA in performance from VCU and a MFA in directing from University of Memphis, Tennessee.

Chip: Why are you involved in community theatre?

Michael: There is nothing like working amongst a group of creative people and bringing a theatrical experience to an audience.

Is there a type of play that is a favorite for you?

My favorite type of play is one that provides the richest experience for both the audience and the theatre company, rich in language, characters and design.

Why did you want to appear in this production of The Glass Mendacity?

I figured only in this comic mash up would I get a chance to play Stanley Kowalski.

Tell us about the role you play in the show?

Stanley is anti-mendacity, he is common as dirt and does not try to hide it. His goal is to get Big Daddy’s estate and he is very open about it.

How are you preparing for the role? Are you spending any time going back to the original plays of William’s for inspiration?

I have been reading A Streetcar Named Desire to identify those iconic moments that the playwrights have mashed into Glass Mendacity for its comic reference.

What is your favorite scene in the show that you are in and why?

The poker scene because it is filled with layers of comic rhythms.

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Elizabeth Keith. Photo by Chip Gertzog.
Elizabeth Keith. Photo by Chip Gertzog.

Elizabeth Keith (Blanche) is excited to make her stage debut with PPF in The Glass Mendacity! Having recently played Maggie the Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Rockville Little Theater, she is excited to explore Blanche in this twisted parody and hopes she can keep a straight face! Elizabeth has been seen on stage in numerous productions throughout the DMV are. Recently she performed in Proof (2014 WATCH Award for Outstanding Featured Actress)The 39 Steps, A Christmas CarolWiddershins, and Picnic at Little Theater of Alexandria. Other favorite area productions include: An Inspector Calls (Dominion Stage – WATCH Award winner for Outstanding Featured Actress), The Dresser (Port City Players), Prelude to a Kiss(Foundry Players), and The Comedy of Errors (Greenbelt Arts Center). Off stage, Elizabeth is a law professor and proud mom of two beautiful little girls. 

Chip: Why are you involved in community theatre?

Elizabeth: It has been a passion of mine for a long time. Theater is a great creative outlet; immersing myself in a character is such a nice escape from my other responsibilities and obligations of day-to-day life. And, I love stories and theater is storytelling at its best.

Is there a type of play that is a favorite for you?

I mostly seek out and am cast in dramas, but have just finished a musical, which was a very different experience. I find dramas much easier than comedies or musicals, so I am thrilled to be a part of this show, which will continue to push my comfort level and experience.

Why did you want to appear in this production of The Glass Mendacity?

Growing up in the South, I am very fond of Tennessee Williams and had never seen anything like this play. The script is an absolute riot! I had the most fun at auditions for this show and knew that it would be a challenge for me to break from some of the more serious dramas that I’ve been in recently.

Tell us about the role you play in the show? Who is your character? What is your character like? How does your character relate to the character(s) created by Tennessee Williams?

I play Blanche Kowalski. In this show, Blanche has married Stanley Kowalski (sorry, Stella!) and is a sister to Laura (The Glass Menagerie) and Brick (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). Her parents are Amanda/Big Mama and Big Daddy. Blanche still has a penchant for young men and is just as self-absorbed as ever, but her unraveling in the end comes about through an entirely different process.     

How are you preparing for the role? Are you spending any time going back to the original plays of William’s for inspiration?  

I have read all of the plays multiple times over the years and, of course, have seen the movie versions as well. On stage, I’ve seen A Streetcar Named Desire and performed in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof within the past year. Understanding the original characters is very important, in my opinion, to bring out the humor within this play. Many people will come in with some idea of who each character is and what motivates her, so we need to capture some of that

What are the biggest challenges that you see in “getting your character right” for this production.

We actually have a lot of freedom to “find” our characters. While we are borrowing some traits from the original characters, we also have artistic latitude to extend or restrict certain characteristics of our characters to enjoy the humor in the script. I guess we will have succeeded if the audience can identify with each of us, then suspend belief and just go along for the ride!

What do you hope audiences take away from seeing The Glass Mendacity?

Laughter! I hope the audience enjoys the show as much as we have putting it together!

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Julie Janson. Photo by Chip Gertzog.
Julie Janson. Photo by Chip Gertzog.

Julie Janson (Maggie) is thrilled to be performing in her third PPF production. Her past roles include Curley’s Wife in Of Mice and Men and Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In addition to her performance work with PPF, Julie has done props and worked stage crew on a number of PPF productions. Julie has directed at the Ramstein High School Theater Company and directed, acted and stage managed for the Boston University Stage Troupe. When not involved in theater, Julie serves as an officer in the U.S. Air Force and volunteers with various animal advocacy/rescue groups including DC Actors for Animals, Braille Tails, and Main Line Animal Shelter.

Why are you involved in community theatre?

Call it corny, but theater is my one true passion and nothing convinced me of that more than the feeling of returning after an eight year hiatus. I love community theatre because extremely talented people get together to have a lot of fun and share this crazy, wonderful appreciation for the stage. I especially love PPF because so many members are like a second family to me.

Why did you want to appear in this production of The Glass Mendacity?

This is one of the funniest plays I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I laughed out loud repeatedly while reading it. So, I thought if reading it was that fun, performing in it must be a hoot. I also enjoy the challenge of a good parody.

Who do you play in the show? Who is your character? What is your character like? How does your character relate to the character(s) created by Tennessee Williams?

I am a big Tennessee Williams fan – at one point or another I have wanted to perform in all of the plays this show is based on. And my favorite role of them all? Maggie the Cat. So check that one off the ol’ bucket list. Maggie is a great role because she is funny, fierce, and flirty all in one. She is pragmatic almost to a fault and will turn on the charm with anybody she needs to if it means getting that inheritance. The second she doesn’t need you, she’ll throw you off the fire escape. If you plan on taking her down with you, she’ll just land on all four.

Julie Janson, Craig Geoffrion, and Elizabeth Keith. Photo by Chip Gertzog.
Julie Janson, Craig Geoffrion, and Elizabeth Keith. Photo by Chip Gertzog.

How are you preparing for the role? Are you spending any time going back to the original plays of Williams for inspiration?

I am almost constantly going back over the original plays to make sure I catch every joke in the show – some are very subtle. I also listen to my recorded version of our first play reading whenever possible to ensure that I am familiar with not just my part but of all the roles. This is an ensemble show to its core so we all must understand each other. Then, it’s about playing around with every line and taking risks until something sticks.  

What is your favorite scene in the show that you are in and why?

My back-and-forths with Stanley are probably the most enjoyable so far – the lines are hilarious and very biting.

What are the biggest challenges that you see in “getting your character right” for this production.

Well I’m up against Elizabeth Taylor as a point of comparison, so that’s just great. But really it’s about making Maggie as real as possible instead of becoming a caricature and letting the jokes take care of themselves.

What do you hope audiences take away from seeing The Glass Mendacity?

I hope they laugh so hard they have to buy another ticket in order to see all the things they missed while they were laughing so hard.

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Ian Wade. Photo by Chip Gertzog.
Ian Wade. Photo by Chip Gertzog.

Ian Wade (Mitch O’Connor) is making his second stage appearance with PPF having performed as Slim this past fall’s Of Mice and Men. Ian is originally from the Maryland area where he performed at various community theaters, including Silver Spring Stage, Montgomery Playhouse, Sandy Spring Theater, Colonial Players, and the Black Box Theater. Ian moved to Virginia eight years ago. His other Virginia theater credits include Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in the musical, Young Frankenstein, at The Alliance Theater, Petruchio in CRT’s Taming of the Shrew, and Martini in PWLT’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He has recently started doing small parts for true-crime television and independent films.  He enjoys History, Science, Philosophy, and anything competitive.

Why are you involved in community theatre? 

I enjoy theater because it is a great creative outlet for me.  Although not nearly as bad today, I was painfully shy growing up. Acting became a way to be somebody else, which was much easier than being myself.

Is there a type of play that is a favorite for you?

Comedy is my favorite type of theater, and I think the most difficult. Comedy requires precise timing and delivery. The audience plays a critical role in helping determine the timing and delivery, yet the audience is unique for each performance.

Why did you want to appear in this production of The Glass Mendacity?

The Glass Mendacity is an incredibly funny show, even if you are not overly familiar with the Tennessee Williams’ plays it is spoofing. It has a lot of clever wit delivered by a very talented team of actors with which I have the great pleasure of performing.

Tell us about the role you play in the show. Who is your character? What is your character like? How does your character relate to the character(s) created by Tennessee Williams?

I play Mitch O’Connor, who is a lawyer for the DuBois family. I bring Big Daddy home from the hospital and tell the family the truth about Big Daddy’s condition. Mitch is a compilation of Jim O’Connor, who is the Gentleman Caller from The Glass Menagerie, and Harold (Mitch) Mitchell from A Streetcar Named Desire. The narrator aspect of my role links me to Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie; otherwise, Tom’s character does not have much to do with Mitch’s personality. The lawyer Mitch O’Connor is a homebody who looks after his sick mother. Dissatisfied with his life, he meets the crazy Blanche Dubois and falls in love, although he feels his manliness is somewhat lacking.

Ian Wade and Craig Geoffrion. Photo by Chip Gertzog.
Ian Wade and Craig Geoffrion. Photo by Chip Gertzog.

How are you preparing for the role? Are you spending any time going back to the original plays of William’s for inspiration? 

I have read all three plays The Glass Mendacity spoofs.  This has helped me to take the personality pieces from the people Mitch is based on and create an amalgam character with his own personality and truth. I intend to play him sincerely without overacting or making Mitch a parody.

What are the biggest challenges that you see in “getting your character right” for this production?

In spoofs and satires, there is a tendency for actors to make caricatures of the roles. I think the challenge for me is to make sure I play Mitch honestly and straight, which would make the comedy all that more funny.

What do you hope audiences take away from seeing The Glass Mendacity?

While people with familiarity of Tennessee Williams’ plays may have a greater appreciation for the references in the show, but people not so familiar with his work will not feel lost with the humor. I hope audiences pay close attention because much of the humor in the show is subtle with changes to a word or two in well-known phrases. I hope the audience is still laughing on their way home; laughing not only because the show was funny, but also laughing at how much of what they saw and heard was true.

The Glass Mendacity opens tonight, May 29, 2015 and plays through June 13th at the James Lee Community Center Theater – 2855 Annandale Road, in Falls Church, VA.

PPF The Glass Mendacity 728 by 90 thru 6-13-15

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TICKETS ARE ON SALE HERE.

for THE GLASS MENDACITY.

PERFORMANCE DATES AND TIMES:

Thursday, Friday and Saturday 7:30 p.m.
May 29th, 30th, June 4th, 5th, 6th, 11th, 12th and 13th
Sunday Matinees 2:00 p.m.
May 31st and June 7, 2015

Adults $20 Students and Seniors $17