Tony Award winner Julie White returns to the stage in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night.
THEATERMANIA: I know this is your first time doing Shakespeare in the Park, but is this actually your first time doing a Shakespeare play?
JULIE WHITE: I did a guest spot in some production of A Midsummer Night's Dream many years ago, but that's it. For one thing, there's not a lot of chick roles in Shakespeare; there's usually 17 guys and three women. And I think directors think of me as this person who does new American plays. But I love Shakespeare and especially Shakespeare in the Park. I remember waiting in line for hours to see Michelle Pfeiffer in Twelfth Night and Kevin Kline in Henry V.
TM: Did you have dreams of playing Olivia or Viola when you were younger?
JW: I think I would've been great in the pants roles when I was younger. But now I've grown into what one of my castmates calls 'the lighter people.' My job is to get the laughs and that's fine. Plus, I am getting to work with Michael Cumpsty (as Malvolio) and we're having a lovefest. And what's particularly great is that Michael is the kind of actor I never get to cross paths with.
TM: What can you tell us about working with this star-studded cast?
JW: So far, despite the star power, it doesn't feel like one of those ego-driven companies -- which is good, because I am too old to put up with those kind of shenanigans. In fact, I'm sort of the den mother, so I tell everyone we're going to have fun or die trying. We have these Friday night movie outings and everyone goes -- though we did have to excuse Anne one night because she had tickets to see Mary Stuart.
TM: What can we expect from the production, both in terms of your portrayal and others?
JW: I can say it's going to be very beautiful and very musical; Raul gets to sing a little -- it would be a shame if he didn't -- and Audra sings a bit at the very very end. Yes, you have to wait two and half hours for it.. Luckily for all of you, I don't sing or dance -- although I hate that my costume covers up my best feature, which are my showgirl legs. I asked Dan Sullivan, our director, if I could make sort of an Ann Miller-like entrance for my final scene, but he said no. I also asked him if we could work my dog Lulu into the show -- I am sort of the Mama Rose of the pet set -- but he didn't take that suggestion either. But I do get a few amusing props to work with. And I am glad I am in comfy shoes this time. I can run in these as opposed to the ones in Little Dog Laughed. They looked great, but it was like having your feet caught in a bear trap.
TM: Your opening night is around the same time that Transformers opens. Are you excited about that movie?
JW: Actually, I love a big summer blockbuster. I just never imagined I'd be in one. It's a lot of cowering in fear as things gets larger and larger and more things get blown up, but so what. I think I am the only actor in America who gets along with [director] Michael Bay, because I keep yelling 'blow it up again!' But to be honest, I'm actually more excited about the new Harry Potter movie -- even though I'm not in it!