Final Bow: Charlotte Parry Looks Backward and Forward on Her Time With the Conways
You won't see Charlotte Parry's face on the poster, but when she steps onstage in Roundabout Theatre Company's new production of J.B. Priestley's Time and the Conways, regular audience members will recognize her (or her voice) right away. In New York, Parry has shared the stage with the likes of Roger Rees (The Winslow Boy) and Brian Bedford (The Importance of Being Earnest); she toured with Angela Lansbury and played the West End in Blithe Spirit. Parry is also the narrator of more than three dozen audiobooks.
In Time and the Conways, Parry plays Kay, the eldest daughter of the Conway family who, over the course of 20 years, manages to get up and out of her family's confines in a way that none of her other siblings could. An exploration of the way time functions, the work also finds Kay encountering J.W. Dunne's idea of simultaneous universes.
While the play tackles a heady subject, Parry is game to look backward and forward as the production gets ready to end its run.
1. What is your favorite line that you get to say?
When I'm imitating the Hollywood starlet Glyrna Foss and I say, in my probably bad American accent, "I bet that leftover ham husband of mine gets himself poured out o' the next boat." And then I laugh at myself and choke on my cigarette. I always think, "Does the audience find this weird or funny or embarrassing?"
2. What is the best inside joke from your show?
We usually call Mr. Beevers "the Beev." At fight call, our stage manager goes, "Slap the Beev." Endless "Beever" jokes.
3. What was the worst technical difficulty experienced during your show and how was it handled?
Quite often, there's a person in the front row who hates the smoking. There was this one woman who, when the first cigarette got lit, went, "Ugh, a cigarette!" On the next one, she went, "Oh, god." The third time, it was, "Stop smoking!" The fourth one, she was like, "I'm out of here," and she made a big show of leaving. I think people forget that they're not in their own living room. They're herbal cigarettes. There's no tobacco in them!
4. What was the most "interesting" present someone gave you at the stage door?
I've never been given a present at the stage door besides a Sharpie to sign an autograph. Anna Camp gets some freaky stuff from fans. I'd quite like to be given something random.
5. Who is the coolest person that came to see your show? (You can't say your family!)
I was very excited when Judith Light came to see the show. I'm obsessed with Transparent. I love her.
6. How did director Rebecca Taichman manage to form a familial bond within the cast of this play?
We all slept with each other [laughs]. As far as I know, no one slept with each other. It was a very loving rehearsal room. We were very supportive. She cast nice people who liked each other and looked out for each other. We had one weekend where we had evening rehearsals, where we were on sofas with glasses of wine. That was a bonding experience.
7. How did you interpret the ending of the play when you read it, and has that interpretation changed over the course of the run?
It has not changed a huge amount. As far as my interpretation of it as being a premonition versus the real future, I've never really decided that. Kay thinks it's very real, and I have to play it as if that is the future.
The staging was very much Rebecca's idea from the beginning. I didn’t know there was going to be a "stepping into the void," so to speak. On the page, Kay goes up to Alan and he cuddles her, and she's still in that living room with the rest of them.
8. What do you believe happens to the members of the Conway family after the play ends?
If there was another act, and, god help us, we have to sit there for another half an hour, I'd like to see it jump to the next day, or maybe six months, or two years, and maybe everyone might get their s**t together and be more positive.
9. What kind of advice would you give to your younger self?
Don't go into the industry! Go do something easier that you love equally and is less heartbreaking. And that life is a roundabout — it's ever changing.