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Sean Young Moves From Movies to Masha (and Vanya and Sonia and Spike)

The Blade Runner and Wall Street actress discusses learning to be a stage performer in Christopher Durang's award-winning play.

Sean Young stars as Masha in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at John W. Engeman Theater at Northport.

In Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, movie star Masha gallivants around the world while Vanya and Sonia, her brother and sister, remain in stagnant lives at their childhood home. Masha's surprise visit home with her 20something sex toy, Spike, throws the quiet household into disarray.

Though actress Sean Young is a film star, the comparisons end there when considering the similarities between her and the character she embodies at John W. Engeman Theater at Northport. Despite a disciplined background in tap dancing, Young, who is well known for her work in films such as Blade Runner, Wall Street, Fatal Instinct, and Ace Ventura, is performing onstage for the first time since a 1993 Los Angeles production of Starlight with Toni Tenille and Hinton Battle.

Young spoke with TheaterMania about making the move back to live theater with producer and director Richard T. Dolce's production, and about getting to don Masha's iconic Snow White costume.

What's interesting about Vanya is that you get to play an actress who is in a similar place in her life, but you also hope that you're quite different because the character is full of herself.
It's interesting because the line was very close for me. One of the reasons the play has gotten better is because I'm allowing myself to be more Masha and less me! We had certain things in common, but I'm not nearly as narcissistic and self-centered as she is. I had to sort of let that ruminate. The more narcissistic that she is, the funnier the part is.

You have worked with so many movie stars. How does Masha stack up to the people whom you've worked with in the entertainment business?
To tell you the truth, most of the people in the film business who are like that are men because they're the ones who have the most support and the most protection. Women tend to be more disposable out in Hollywood.

Everyone has a bit of an ego, but have you been able to relate to any of Masha's eccentricities?
I'm just trying to get the lines at this point! The whole process of being onstage is very different from what I'm used to. I've been very into watching my fellow actors to see how they improve what they do and how they hit their laughs and deliver their lines. The funny thing onstage is that every night you get a chance to make it bigger. You don't really get that chance in film.

Which muscles have you begun using as a stage actor?
The main thing is confidence. I'm not scared anymore. In the beginning I was really scared because I didn't know the material like I do now, or I would be scared enough that I might not remember exactly what my next line was. I know exactly where I am now throughout the play, so it has become fun.

Laurie Dawn as Sonia, Kevin Pariseau as Vanya, and Sean Young as Masha in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at John W. Engeman Theater at Northport.
(© Michael DeCristofaro)

In Vanya you don a Snow White costume to attend a costume party. What's the most memorable costume you've ever worn?
I love that Snow White costume. My friend, Michael Bevins, has done two other movies with me as a costume designer, and he made that costume especially for me and I love it. I think it looks great and it's hilarious. What a funny little dress! My favorites from the past include everything in Blade Runner, but there's a coat I got to wear with a huge fan in the back of my head, almost like Queen Elizabeth. All of the costumes in that film were really amazing.

Which film role has most epitomized and spoken to your experience as an actor, leading you to where you are today?
Experiencing a film and experiencing making a film together with other actors is one thing, and then the result is another. I remember working on a film called Cousins with Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini and that experience was incredibly positive, but in terms of the actual end result of the film... [laughs] The best film I've been able to be in is Blade Runner. You don't have control over the end product as an actor. That's why being onstage is so much fun — you really feel like you're at the center of the experience. It's you and the audience. You don't get edited out.

Sean Young in a scene from the 1982 film Blade Runner.