As those familiar with Peter Shaffer's 1973 drama Equus know, it's not just the actor playing Alan Strang -- in this case movie megastar Daniel Radcliffe -- who bares all. Which is one reason why Anna Camp certainly gave a lot of thought to accepting the role of Jill Mason. "I've never been one to even walk around the gym naked, but part of me figured if I was ever going to be naked on stage, it's better to do it on Broadway than in some Off-Broadway garage. And I really didn't want to regret not being part of something so beautiful," she says.
Still, Camp talked to a lot of people before saying yes. "I called our director Thea Sharrock to talk about the lighting and she assured me she'd be very respectful of the scene. And having Thea in the room makes me a lot more comfortable. I also talked to my family and to my fiancé, Mike. At first, he was 'no, no.' But then he told me about how when he did Angels in America in college, he had to drop his pants -- and he did it before the director even asked him to! So he said to me, 'now we're even.' and we had a good laugh."
Camp, who has previously starred in New York -- fully clothed -- in The Scene and The Country Girl, says she was completely unfamiliar with the play when she was first asked to audition. "I found Jill is someone who doesn't take things too seriously, and she's someone who's very open about everything, including her sexuality," she says. "I was a little worried that because the show had been done in London with Daniel and Richard Griffiths that I was going to be treated more like a replacement, but we're starting all over and I feel like I am helping to create this role." And speaking of her co-stars, who also include Kate Mulgrew, Camp has nothing but praise. "Daniel has such great energy, and he's incredibly receptive to new things," she says. "And Richard is one the funniest and smartest men I've ever met. He's even given me a reading list so I can keep up with him. Between that, mastering my British accent, and being nude on stage, I am really doing a lot of juggling."
QUEEN OF ACE
Virginia's Signature Theatre's current production of the musical Ace boasts some of musical theater's strongest women, and Christiane Noll more than holds her own as Ruth. "She's kind of the heavy of the piece, but it's a role I've wanted to do on stage since I recorded the demo about eight years ago," she says. "In fact, Richard Obecracker told my agent he wrote it for me, and it definitely plays to my vocal strengths. I begin with this full-on diva soprano and end up belting really low. There's even this one moment when I feel I should have Brunhilde horns on."
Still, the score isn't the only reason Noll wanted to do the show. "It's a very inspirational story, and we all believe in it. It's about fathers and sons and patriotism, and it has a lot of sentimentality, which we haven't seen much of lately in musicals," she says. "Plus, when I saw Eric Schaeffer, who I worked with at Signature in The Witches of Eastwick, was directing it, I kind of just invited myself into the cast. And we're quite a roomful!"
Audiences who can't make it to Virginia currently have two new opportunities to hear Noll in their living rooms -- on the recording of the Off-Broadway musical Frankenstein and her third solo CD, My Personal Property. "I'd been doing a lot of compilation CDs with John Yap and Jay Records," she says. "What I love best though is that he allowed me to do my specific performance of 'Glitter and Be Gay," which I do in concert. I didn't want be trapped having to sing it in the way other people have. He also asked me to do 'This Is My Beloved,' and at first I hated it -- I'd never sung it before -- but when we did another take, I agreed it was really something."
Meanwhile, Noll will be singing live after Ace closes, including a bunch of symphony concerts around the country and with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall on October 17 as part of the Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds celebration. "I thought they hired me to sing 'Glitter,' but I'm not doing it," she says. "We went through tons of stuff, and instead we chose a really cool version of 'I Can Cook Too,' with a lot of scatting, and some other songs. I think it will be a lot of fun."
MY FAVORITE MARTIN
Returning to role of precocious Jean Fordham in Broadway's August: Osage County after a few months away filming Showtime's provocative Californication, in which she plays the equally precocious Becca, was an interesting experience for 15-year-old Madeleine Martin. "I had about four days off between the two shows and then one hour of rehearsal with the new cast," she says. "But Estelle Parsons (who plays her grandmother Violet) is so much fun to work with, and Robert Foxworth (who plays her uncle Charlie) is very funny. But I really think it would be hard to do the show without Amy Morton (who plays her mother, Barbara), because I rely on her energy."
Nonetheless, she will have to get used to a new onstage mom next month when Morton joins most of the show's original cast for August's London production, and Martin stays behind on the Great White Way. "I'll be 16 soon, and in London, that's considered an adult, so I wouldn't be able to get schooling. Plus my real mom wouldn't be able to come with me," she notes. "But I'm looking forward to staying with the show. Plus, I always miss New York when I'm not here."
Still, she's enjoying her stint on Californication -- especially working with star David Duchovny -- and gives a preview of what's to come when the new season begins on September 28. "Becca begins to show the stress of being a parent to her parents," she says. "And she gets a boyfriend (played by Ezra Miler). Her dad, Hank, doesn't really like him, because he doesn't treat Becca well, but neither does Hank. For me, it's nice to have a friend on the set who's the same age. It's similar to Becca, who's lonely and wants someone her own age to hang out with, instead of her crazy parents."
If you want to see more of Martin in person, however, head to Project Shaw at the Players Club on September 21 where she'll tackle the title female role in Caesar and Cleopatra, opposite Brian Murray. "It's funny; last Halloween, I went as Cleopatra, complete with a snake on my arm and a gold headpiece, and now I get to play her," she says. "The script is pretty long -- though I don't have to memorize it -- but it will be great to be on a stage with all those wonderful theater actors."
The opening night of John Pizzarrelli and Jessica Molaskey's two-month engagement of their stunning new show at the Café Carlyle brought out a who's who of New York: Regis and Joy Philbin, Barbara Cook, Christine Ebersole, Phoebe Snow, Harvey Evans, Tovah Feldshuh, Brooks Ashmanskas, Dana Tyler, Deborah Grace Winer, Alice Playten and John Bucchino. It's hard to say whether they liked "I Like Jersey Best" best or the many selections from Pizzarrelli's new album of Richard Rodgers' music With a Song in My Heart or my personal favorite, a gorgeous medley of "Meditation" by Antonio Carlos Jobim and "Summer Highland Falls" by Billy Joel (the latter beautifully delivered by Molaskey).
Looking ahead, Bones star Eric Millegan will perform his cabaret show at Don't Tell Mama on September 15; Joan Van Ark will take part in the Shakespeare at the Huntington Series at L.A.'s Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens on September 17; Sam Harris, Karen Morrow, Freda Payne, Harry Shearer, and Judith Owen will perform at It's Magic: A Tribute to Sammy Cahn at the Wilshire Theatre Beverly Hills on September 21; Lea DeLaria, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Stanley Bahorek, Patina Renea-Miller, and Rodney Hicks will participate in One Night Only, a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids on September 22 at the Loews Jersey Theatre in Jersey City; Joan Copeland and Louise Lasser will star in Food For Thought's double bill of The American Clock and WASP at the Players Club on September 25; musician Sufjan Stevens will curate the all-night BAM Takeover on September 27; Jared Gertner, Randy Redd, and Kathy Voytko will perform at Dreamlight's Bright Lights concert at the Triad on September 28; Rue McLanahan will do a reading from and sign her memoir My First Five Husbands & The Ones That Got Away at the Drama Book Shop on September 30.
TALK THE TALK
Having played cable talk show host Mr. Charles on stage for many years -- most recently in Lincoln Center's production of Paul Rudnick's The New Century -- Peter Bartlett is back in the interviewer's chair for the Atlantic Theater's hilarious What's That Smell: The Music of Jacob Sterling as Lawrence Swag, host of a talk show devoted to "promising" musical theater composers and lyricists. So is he ready to be the next Oprah in real life? "No thanks, I don't want my own talk show. I'm the kind of person who you have to give lines to," says Bartlett with a laugh. "But I have to say this talk show is far more glamorous than Mr. Charles' was, and it's also a very different type of character. Mr. Charles was completely in charge, but here, I'm this person who treats his guest Jacob Sterling (played by David Pittu) completely slavishly."
Bartlett and Pittu -- who has co-written and co-directed the 80-minute "comedy with music" -- became quick buddies when working together on the Broadway musical Never Gonna Dance, and he's thrilled they're collaborating on this project. "David is the real thing; his voice is flawless and incredibly durable and he can basically do anything," says Bartlett. "And I have to say Randy Redd, who wrote the music, is just a genius. The score to this show so slyly evokes so many different types of music. I don't get to sing much, though, just a little bit of my show's theme song. But it's such a pleasure just being out on the stage with this cast."
The versatile actor isn't quite sure what's ahead for him after this run -- but long-term unemployment is unlikely. For one thing, there's sure to be more work as butler Nigel on ABC's daytime drama One Life to Live, a role he's played for the past 17 years (and which started out as a day part!) As for a possible return visit by Mr. Charles, "that's always up to Paul; I'm so grateful he created the part and basically gave me a career," he says. "Meanwhile, I know Christopher Ashley wants me to go out and do a show with him at La Jolla, and Nicky Martin asked me to think of a vehicle for myself next summer at Williamstown. I'm not sure he meant it, but I do have something in mind."