In Part Four of a series of interviews with the cast of Rockville Little Theatre’s Our Town, meet Tracy Husted.
Please introduce yourself and tell where local theatre goers have seen you before on the stage and who you played?
I have been involved with community theater in fits and spurts since I moved to the Washington, DC area in 1990. My earliest role was Leah Harelik in Silver Spring Stage’s 1992 production of The Immigrant. After a long break from theater, I did Cinderella with Montgomery Playhouse, Fiddler on the Roof at Temple Beth Ami, and Scrooge: The Musical with Sandy Spring Theater Group. Most recently, I played Mrs. Bucket in KAT 2nd Stage’s Willy Wonka, Jr., and Lucy in SSTG’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. Our Town is pretty much a 180-degree turn!
Why did you want to be part of RLT’s production of Our Town?
This is a dream role for a “theater geek” like me. As a Performance Studies major in college, I developed a passion for exploring the cultural and philosophical aspects of theatrical pieces, as well as the format in which they are presented. Our Town is one of the best examples in American theater of literature in performance, and I feel fortunate that this production came around when I was in the perfect age range to play one of the mothers in the show. It’s one of the few times when I’ve been enthusiastic rather than freaked out about being a middle-aged mom… Also, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such a talented group of people!
Who do you play in the show?
I play Julia Gibbs, George’s mother.
How do you relate to your character? What traits do you share and not share and what do you admire most about him/her?
It’s a little bit scary how much I relate to Julia Gibbs. I have children the same ages as she does (plus one more), and a lot of the interactions between Julia and her family mirror similar conversations and happenings in my own household. For example, when Julia comes back from choir practice, she automatically starts cleaning up in the kitchen. I can’t tell you how many times I have rushed home from work or rehearsal and immediately started fixing dinner or picking up dirty clothes! Of course, Julia’s world is different from mine because of the time period. But the emotional places where Julia finds herself – her worries about her children, the importance of her friendships, and her respectful and loving relationship with her husband – are all places that I don’t need to travel very far to find. That’s one of the things I love about this play – the emotions and experiences of the characters are timeless in many ways.
What have been some of the challenges you have had preparing for your role and how has your director Laurie Freed helped you with these challenges?
As much as I share with this character, it has been a challenge to bring her to life in an authentic way. I’ve struggled to embrace the mannerisms and speech patterns that would have been typical for that time period, while still portraying Julia as the timeless character that she is. Laurie has coached me to focus on what Julia really wants in each of her interactions and what might be in her way, regardless of what she actually says. These questions apply to all characters, and help to inform the way that I use my body and my voice to create Julia as a three-dimensional, “real” person.
Why is Our Town still so popular? What does Our Town have to say to today’s theater audiences?
On the surface, Our Town can seem sentimental and trite. But when you look more deeply, it’s exactly the opposite. Thornton Wilder uses this glimpse into the ordinary people and events of Grover’s Corners to show just how extraordinary life really is. The very fact that this small town and its residents are “unimportant” in the scheme of things is what makes that third act of the play so emotionally devastating. We realize that we all are residents of Grover’s Corners in our own way, and that the gift of life is one we should never take for granted.
Which scene or scenes move you the most in Our Town and why?
I think the way people interact with this play depends on where they are in their own lives. As a wife and mother, I am particularly touched by the interactions between the mothers and children in the play, especially as the children get older and begin to find their own way in the world. I ache for Julia Gibbs and Myrtle Webb as their oldest children prepare to get married, as they contemplate their own stations in life and struggle to let go while still wanting to protect George and Emily and wanting to hold their “babies” close. The other part of the play that really gets to me is the last act. The recent loss of my own mother makes Act III difficult but also somewhat cathartic for me. I am moved by the pain of the living characters, of Emily as she tries to adjust, and of the Stage Manager’s assertion that those who have passed “don’t stay interested in us living people very long.”
What’s next for you on the stage?
A break! The spring is a busy season for me in my work and family life, and I am grateful to have a job where I can use the summer to “re-charge.” Although I’ll miss the Gibbs clan and Grover’s Corners, my real family will be grateful to have me back full-time, at least for a while. Of course, I never can resist looking at audition notices…
Our Town plays through May 8, 2016 at Rockville Little Theatre performing at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at the Rockville Civic Center – 603 Edmonston Drive, in Rockville, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (240) 314-8690, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of Rockville Little Theatre’s ‘Our Town’: Part 1: Zoe Bulitt.
Meet the Cast of Rockville Little Theatre’s ‘Our Town’: Part 2: Allison Howlett.
Meet the Cast of Rockville Little Theatre’s ‘Our Town’: Part 3: Tristan Poje.
Meet the Cast of Rockville Little Theatre’s ‘Our Town’: Part 4: Tracy Husted.
Review of ‘Our Town’ at Rockville Little Theatre by William Powell on DCMetroTheaterArts.