In part eight of a series of interviews with the cast of Loves and Hours at Laurel Mill Playhouse, meet Penni Barnett.
Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on the stage before. What roles did you play in these shows?
Hi, I’m Penni Barnett. Other recent shows I’ve done at Laurel Mill Playhouse are Pride & Prejudice (Mrs. Gardiner), The 39 Steps (BBC Announcer, Mrs. Jordan, Mrs. McGarrigle), Assassins (Emma Goldman and ensemble), and Man of La Mancha (prisoner, gypsy, puppeteer).
Why did you want to be part of the cast of Loves and Hours? I have never heard of this play before. Had you known about it before? And what intrigued you about the play?
I didn’t know anything about the play before the audition, but I had worked with Daniel in Man of La Mancha and knew that I’d love working with him again. At the audition, I found myself hooked just from the script selections that we were asked to read.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to him or her? What traits do you share? Does this character remind you of a similar character that you have played before?
I play Dan Tinley’s ex-wife Linda, who has come out of the closet after 25 years of marriage, and is now living with another woman. In real life, I am happily married to Alan Barnett (who plays Dan Tinley), but like Linda I am a middle-aged, newly empty-nester mom with two grown children. As such, I can absolutely relate to some of Linda’s angst as she finds herself at a new stage of her life, struggling to figure out who she is and what she wants.
What is Loves and Hours about from the point of view of your character?
Throughout the play, Linda is struggling to assert herself and her identity (no longer closeted), while at the same time she is desperate to win the forgiveness of her family for walking out on them.
What challenges have you had preparing for the role, and how did Director Daniel Douek help you through these challenges? What was the best advice he gave you on how to play your role?
I think my biggest challenge has been to portray convincingly the WASP-y, patrician, condescending elements of Linda’s character. She’s also glib and sarcastic, veering from snarky to vulnerable and back to snarky from one line to the next. One way Daniel has helped me in this area is posture, believe it or not. Head tall, no slouching, “think of Diane Keaton” …it works!
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
My favorite line of Linda’s is raunchy, but very funny in context: “So is licking your balls.” Favorite line that another character says: “that’s one of the things it’s about…caring about someone so much that you want them to be happy, even if you’re not.”
What does Loves and Hours have to say to today’s audiences?
Loves and Hours is a pitch-perfect take on human relationships of all kinds. It’s funny, poignant, and honest. The cast all love it, and I think audiences will too.
If you could change what happens to your character – what would you like to see happening to your character at the end of the play?
I’d love to see Linda take a deep breath, put her dukes down, and try to live unguardedly for just five minutes.
Why should local theatergoers come and see Loves and Hours?
It’s a new play that tackles the age-old battle of the sexes and other human foibles in a refreshing, honest, funny light. It’s the kind of show that will make you laugh, cry, and think. The cast is terrific, too!
What’s next for you on the stage?
My next theater gig will be as Assistant Director of the Bethesda Little Theatre’s spring show, Let’s Not Talk About Love in late March. It’s a cabaret-style musical theater review with dozens of songs from Broadway shows old and new.
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.
Review: Loves and Hours at Laurel Mill Playhouse by Ilene Chalmers.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘Loves and Hours at Laurel Mill Playhouse Part 1: Alan Barnett.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘Loves and Hours’ at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Part 2: Terri Laurino.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘Loves and Hours’ at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Part 3: John Dignam.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘Loves and Hours’ at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Part 4: Taylor Duvall.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘Loves and Hours’ at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Part 5: Heather Warren.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘Loves and Hours’ at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Part 6: Jen Sizer.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘Loves and Hours’ at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Part 7: Gage Warren.