Phil Geoffrey Bond's Small Town Confessions, which is set to run August 10-14 as part of the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival, is described as a "collection of lively monologues" introducing the residents of Anitola, Louisiana. Its cast features Tony winners Alice Ripley (Next to Normal) and Daisy Eagan (The Secret Garden), among a host of others.
Ripley takes on the project amid a busy time that also includes recent readings of The Wonderful Mr. & Mrs. O'Leary by Matte O'Brien and the release of the Bubble Boy musical album, on which she plays Mrs. Livingston. During a recent interview, we asked Ripley about her own small-town dreams, the projects that might bring her back to the New York stage, and her role as "the bride of Satan."
1. Tell me about the character you play in Small Town Confessions.
I play Juliet, a lady sitting on the front porch in a wedding dress. I'm the bride of Satan, I'm gonna marry Satan. My monologue is "I've had enough of this, I've tried many lifetimes as a matter of fact, of trying to be good. " And I just say, "You know what, I'm done."
I think these characters in this play, maybe they're nuts but maybe they're not. Either way, they're fully formed personalities.
2. Does this story about small-town life resonate with you personally?
Yeah, it does kind of. I did grow up in a small town. I grew up in a lot of different places. But I consider my home to be Cleveland. In the northeast quadrant of the state it's all woods. Where the Pennsylvania border meets, there's a state park up there where my grandma had a house down the street and you know it was Green Acres. Remember that show? I could be sitting out on that front porch for sure as Juliet.
3. If you were the resident of a small town, what job do you think you'd have?
Well, I have a dream that I'd live in a small town and be a voice teacher out of my house. I could live in a little house on the corner and put my shingle out: "Voice teacher." And I want my mom to come live with me because she paints and so she could be the older lady who teaches them how to paint and I'd be the not-as-old lady who teaches voice lessons. And we could live in our little house and maybe a little town in upstate New York would be good. I'm very drawn to small town life. Main Street, U.S.A. I just really want to interact with students and watch them grow and be close enough to the city that someone could say, hey, come on down to play Mama Rose.
4. How often do you get to do plays rather than musicals?
I like that question because I'd like to do more plays. I have this whole other unexplored passion that I really want to share with the audience. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actor in classics like Shaw and Shakespeare and Chekov and Ibsen. I wasn't a musical-theater kid. We went to plays at school and took field trips to see Shakespeare. And that really sparked that fire for me, and so that's still going and I haven't given up on it.
5. What kind of project are you looking at for your next Broadway return?
Well, I would love to be in a play. I would love to play Mary in Long Day's Journey Into Night or Virginia Woolf or a comedy — just like, a slapstick comedy. I would love to spend the next 10 years just laughing because it seems like the last 10 years have been just crying for everything. Now maybe it's time to try the comedy mask on.
But honestly, it's more exciting to me to think of playing a role that hasn't been written yet. That experience of putting a thumbprint on a role and owning it, nothing can compare. And I tell this to my students because they all want to sing all the songs that are already out there. And who doesn't! But I say trust me, you want a role that hasn't been written yet because that is the best. Once you're there, you wonder how you could ever think otherwise because then you get to sing this song that everybody wants to sing. You get to define it.
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