Interview: General Hospital's Lisa LoCicero Is Ready for Her Turn in God of Carnage
After four years away from the stage, LoCicero talks about challenges and satisfaction of live performance.
Some actors would be downright terrified stepping onto a stage after four years away and taking on a role that won another actor a Tony Award, especially while trying to balance a TV day job and the full-time job of being a wife and mother. But not every actor is Lisa LoCicero.
Best known for her 25-year career in daytime drama, including her current, long-running role as the wealthy but earthy Olivia Quartermaine on ABC's General Hospital, LoCicero jumped at the role of the high-strung Veronica in the Foursome Productions' revival of Yasmina Reza's Tony-winning play God of Carnagee, running May 13-29 at LA's Odyssey Theatre.
TheaterMania recently spoke to LoCicero about the reasons she chose to do the play, the advice on acting she received from Vanessa Redgrave, the similarities between Veronica, her daytime TV role, and her real-life personality, and her hopes for her next stage role.
This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.
How did this job come about?
Our director, Peter Allas, called me out of the blue and just asked if I like this play and wanted to do it. I remember seeing it at the Ahmanson and loving it. And my motto is "Say yes until you say no," so I agreed immediately. But then he called back and asked me if I could come in the next day to read in-person because Yasmina needed casting approval. And I couldn't because I was shooting General Hospital. So, I put myself on tape, in front of some backdrop, and I chose to do what I call Veronica's big come-to-Jesus moment. Ultimately, I figured if it wasn't what they wanted, it was better to know now. After all, the worst possible case was they would tell me I sucked — and I've seen worse actors suck. But either way, I was grateful to have the opportunity to take the bulls by the horn and scare myself.
You haven't been on a stage since 2018. Does doing this play scare you?
Not now. I am feeling confident, in part because one of my great skills is learning lines, and not forgetting your lines is always a great starting-off point. When I was studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, Vanessa Redgrave came to class one day, and I asked her for her best piece of advice. She said, "Learn your lines. If you do the work first, then you can play." I've always found those words to be helpful.
Veronica is a very protective mom. So is Olivia. Are you that way with your children?
I would not call myself as protective as Veronica. Of course, I would kill someone with my bare hands if my children were seriously threatened. But this play is about a schoolyard fight, so I would not react like Veronica. Let's face it, kids are kids. That said, being a mom, I have witnessed this kind of behavior over and over; sometimes you would watch kids interacting in pre-school and the mothers would act like this was the Battle of Hastings. But in those cases, like with Veronica, I think its more about protecting their own ego. Nothing is as dangerous as when you start challenging people's choices as parents.
Veronica is very well off. Olivia is very well off. Do you relate to these kinds of privileged women?[br]] I grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, so even as a kid I was aware of the subtlety of class differences. I totally knew that you could tell who was in which "class" by which club they belonged to, or which stores they shopped at; sometimes you could tell just by looking at the shoes or the shirt someone wore. What's so interesting in this play is I think a big part of what eventually happens is because Veronica is attempting to be part of the upper echelon which, deep down, she doesn't believe she belongs to. That's really what causes so much of her bad behavior.
Given how fast soap operas are taped – basically one episode a day – are you enjoying having a real rehearsal period?
A lot. It can be hard to watercolor between the lines when you are worrying about getting your lines and blocking right in one take. Of course, I have to remind myself on GH that if I screw up, no one will die; we can do re-takes if we have to.
Is the rehearsal the best part about returning to the stage?
No. What I really love about doing this play, though, is that these lines are very different than soap lines. Here, we're not really talking about clafoutis even when we are. It's much different than on soaps, where what you're saying is exactly what you're thinking. There is only text, no subtext. The only downside, I guess, is that I won't be able to hide my script behind a pillow and look at it just in case I do forget a line.
Are you hoping to do more stage projects?
Honestly, I would love to do the play Full Gallop. I can still remember watching Mary Louise Wilson at the top of her game and showing us what true greatness means. I might have to wait awhile to do it, but that's OK. Like any actor, the opportunity to do wonderful work, in any medium, is the best gift one could wish for.