In Part 7 of a series of interviews with The Playwright, Director, and cast of Calendar Girls at McLean Community Players meet Frank Gorrell.
Joel: Tell our readers where they may have seen you on local stages.
I had the pleasure to play William Gillette in Ken Ludwig’s The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays last year at this time with MCP – even directed by Bob Sams! I also appear in the independent film 6 Hearts 1 Beat that folks may catch at a film festival.
Tell us about the character you play and how you relate to him. Does this character have any of your personality or character traits?
John Clarke is a great guy – everybody loves him, which is why his death affects them all so. John and Annie have a great marriage; the best of any of the couples. In real life I have a great relationship with my wife, too! (I got married on August 15!) So I think that helps my character development.
What has been the most fun playing this character?
For me it is the transition John goes through in a very short period of time. He is vibrant and healthy, albeit freshly diagnosed, in scene 1; then starting to show the effects in scene 2; then very near death in scene 3. In fact, I recall that during the call back auditions, doing scene 1 several times, and each time choking up when I – as John – had to tell Annie that I had seen the doctor. I am blessed to be opposite a terrific actor in Samantha “Sam” David as Annie Clarke. In callbacks, Sam knew what the relationship between Annie and John had to be. She was terrific.I felt then, and feel now, very comfortable with her.
What have been some of the challenges you have had preparing for your role and how did your director help you with these challenges?
The most important factor is ensuring folks know that Annie and John are deeply in love. Moreover, everyone loves John, and he is missed by everyone. To that end, Bob Sams has emphasized John’s good nature.
Which character in the show is most like you, and why?
John and I are similar, though, thank God, I have great health! I’d like to believe that John and I are well-loved and that I would be deeply missed if I were to pass too soon.
What do you admire most about your fellow cast members?
I admire that they are willing to be so vulnerable on the stage in certain scenes. They are well aware of why the calendar is important.
What do you want audiences to take with them after watching you perform in Calendar Girls?
I pray that they see a fellow in John who could very well be their friend or family member. Maybe they will take their health more seriously; do research; and really, really speak with their doctors over any health concerns.
If you were a Calendar Girl, what would your page look like, and which month would you be and why?
If I were a Calendar Girl, we’d be having a different conversation! (Laughs). I’d be surrounded by orchids, since my new wife taught me that they aren’t that hard to take care of, and probably firefighter turnout gear. I was a call firefighter for ten years in Massachusetts before relocating to Virginia.
What is your favorite line that your character says? What is your favorite line that another character says?
John says that he loves Christmas. I think it shows what a fun person he is, and speaks to the overall relationship he has with all these women. (Only one other husband ever appears on stage, Rod, who is married to Chris. But no doubt, they all have fun!) I love Christmas, too. Last year I was recovering from throat surgery, so it was painful to swallow or talk. I couldn’t sing until the end of January! John gets to sing a little in this show. I’d love it if he could belt out “O, Holy Night.”
The character of Cora has some great lines in the show. The way she says, “Merry Christmas” is priceless.
Calendar Girl plays from September 18- October 3, 2015 at the McLean Community Players performing at McLean Community Center’s Alden Theatre – 1234 Ingleside Avenue, in McLean, VA. For more information, call (703) 304-3176, or visit their website. Tickets are available at the Alden Box Office, through OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111, or online.
Meet the Cast of McLean Community Players’ ‘Calendar Girl’: Part 1: Diane Sams.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 2: Kathryn (Katie) Johnston.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 3: Liz Weber.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 4: Jennifer Levy.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 5: Jennifer Greene.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘Calendar Girls’ at McLean Community Players, Part 6: Anne Megan Hilleary.
Meet the Cast of McLean Community Players’ ‘Calendar Girl’: Part 7: Frank Gorrell.
McLean Community Players Presents Tim Firth’s ‘Calendar Girls’ September 18 – October 3, 2015.