One. I’ve been wanting to play adults for a long time! As an actor, you have a certain amount of control, but if you’re like me, and you really enjoy your work, and people keep asking you to play young people, you go where the work is.
ask.25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, “Peter and the Starcatcher”, “The Robin” . . .
One. Then, if a director — Mark Shanahan — called and said, “Do you want to play an adult in ‘Dial ‘M’ for Murder’?” you’d say “Of course I do!” Besides, I Will honestly do whatever this theater asks me to do because being here is a gift. Everyone’s saying, “Wait, it’s beautiful!” And then you’re here, and it’s really a place I’ve never been.
ask. Your Broadway hits are numerous, but this is a select group. [The HBO series] The Gilded Age, which is filming its second season, has made you a household face — surprisingly, a rather drab, old face.
One. Oh I just love it! What a relief!As actors age [Keenan-Bolger is 44], you start to feel that your currency has to be built on something other than your appearance. To get a breakdown of characters like “Not Beauty” – sign me up! In our apartment building in New York City, a couple of people said, “Oh my God, is your character in the Gilded Age going to get a makeover?” I was like, “She’s definitely not! She’s a housekeeper! That’s what she looks like. .”
ask. The role you’re playing here is not just an adult, but extremely complex.
One. I can’t even believe I’m playing a character [Margot Wendice] The one played by Grace Kelly – it feels like a shoe the size of a fortress! But I also think all she does in the movie is feel worried and angry. Can’t play for two hours. So, okay, so who is this woman, if she doesn’t have things happening to her all the time? This is an interesting exploration.
ask. I was trying to read the synopsis of the plot twists and my thoughts were just [“kablooey” gesture].
One. It’s actually easy to understand, very direct, enjoyable and scary.
ask. Starting with the stage script, how do you compensate Alfred Hitchcock for his film contributions?
One. You have to say, “Okay, what theatrical work is this? If we don’t have a visual storytelling, why is this interesting?” That means the characters have to be drawn in a more complex and nuanced way. We’ve been talking about how to get into things that people don’t look like. What’s interesting – even when people are doing horrible things – is thinking about how the characters behave, but in reality, their identities in life are very different. Comes in a variety of colors, bringing comedy, sadness and tragedy. This is not just a drama about murder.
ask. I was surprised to see Egret promoting the show as “a night full of laughter”.
One. It’s like one of those ’50s genre films, and it has an element of comedy that isn’t even necessarily intentional. If people come to watch summer theater, you don’t want it to be a night of doom and gloom.
ask. Over the past few years, we’ve all grown accustomed to seeking entertainment in private, hiding on our devices.
One. We’re in an interesting moment of drama. During a pandemic, we’ve been asked to take care of a lot of things on our own, and options like Netflix and Hulu have become very, very important to us, not just as a means of escape, but as a means of our brains.
ask. And for relationships, even in a delete.
One. Exactly. There’s something special in theaters now. No matter what the material is — even if it’s like “Dial ‘M’ for murder” or some silly comedy — we’re all trying to learn how to be in this world again, how to be with each other and laugh together and feel emotionally together.
Interview edited and condensed.
Dial “M” for murder
Presented by the Egret Theatre Company, 5 North Water Street, Nantucket. until August 16th. Tickets start at $25. 508-825-5268, www.whiteherontheatre.org
Sandy Macdonald on Twitter @sandymacdonald.