Here is Part 2 of a series of interviews with the director, producer, and cast of Reston Community Players’ production of Terrence McNally’s Master Class. Meet Lisa Anne Bailey.
Maria Callas, one of the most famous opera divas of all time, is teaching a master class in front of a live audience at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage from January 15-30, 2016.
Glamorous, commanding, larger than life, caustic, and surprisingly drop-dead funny, Maria is alternately dismayed and impressed by the three students who bravely enter the music studio at Juilliard, hoping for a gram of inspiration from the famed soprano. Maria frequently retreats into recollections of her own life and triumphs at La Scala with searing monologues about the unforgiving press, her affair with Aristotle Onassis, and her sacrifice taken in the name of art.
Diane Jackson Schnoor: Please Introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Lisa Anne Bailey and I am playing Maria Callas. I have been doing theatre in the Northern VA, MD, DC area for almost 40 years, not only as an actress, but as a director and choreographer. RCP was my home theatre for almost 18 years – it’s nice to be home. I have had some great opportunities as a performer playing such roles as Peter in Peter Pan, Fanny Bryce in Funny Girl, and The Drowsy Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone to name just a few.
As a director, I have been blessed to direct such shows as Oliver, Cabaret, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (all of these at RCP) – just to name a few.
What drew you to Master Class?
The opportunity to play this role with all of its complexities is what drew me to Master Class.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to your character? What do you like most about your character? What do you like least about your character?
Maria Callas was an amazing singer and performer. She really believed in the truth and the emotions involved in performing. So many of the things that she shares in this production are words I have used with my own acting students (I moonlight as an acting coach). She had such a passion for her art and it is something I try to instill in my students.
What is your favorite line in the show?
I’m not sure I could pick one line – there are so many – she really had a great sense of humor and those moments shine thru in the script.
What advice and suggestions has the director given you that you have found most helpful as you prepare for your role?
Much biographical information and recordings of Maria were shared with me and there’s so much more to Maria Callas than will be shared in this production.
You are on the stage for the entire show. Do you have a favorite scene or moment? And were you an opera buff before you accepted the role?
I am in every scene – no specific favorite, but I enjoy very much the opportunity to interact with the three opera singers involved in the production – from them I have learned more about opera than I ever would have on my own. They are talented and have been so willing to share their gift and very supportive and patient with my lack of opera knowledge.
What makes Master Class special or unique?
Opera singers – true operatic singers are not utilized in live theatre very often and showcased in such a well written fashion – quite unique.
What is the most frightening or daunting thing about appearing in and preparing for your role in Master Class?
The daunting part of this production for me is the sheer number of lines – overwhelming!!! In addition I have had to learn a bit of Italian which has been challenging. Playing a real person who made such a mark on the opera world and doing it justice and with the right amount of humor, grace, and class has been an amazing theatrical experience.
What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing Master Class?
Most people believe that what we do in community theatre is just a hobby but this story summarizes for any form of the arts – the great are just that because of their strong passion for every note, every word, every dance step, and every moment shared with the audience.
Master Class stars Lisa Anne Bailey as Maria Callas and features Rosemarie S. Greger as the 1st Soprano (Sophie), Molly Pinson Simoneau as the 2nd Soprano (Sharon), Christopher Cosgrove as the Tenor (Tony), David Rohde as the Accompanist (Manny), and Richard Durkin as the Stagehand. Master Class is directed by Rosemary Hartman and produced for RCP by Kate Keifer and Carol Watson.
Master Class plays from January 15-30, 2016 at Reston Community Players performing at CenterStage at the Reston Community Center – 2310 Colts Neck Road, in Reston, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 476-4500, then press 3 for the 24-hour ticket ordering system. or purchase them online.
CenterStage is handicap accessible and offers listening devices for the hearing impaired.
Meet the Cast, Director, and Producer of Reston Community Players’ ‘Master Class’: Part 1: Director Rosemary Hartman and Producer Kate Keifer.