Theater News

Quick Wit: Anna Wilson

The Donkey Show‘s Miss Wilson chats away with Ricky Spears.

Anna Wilson
Anna Wilson

For any fan of disco music, particularly those hits from the ’70s, The Donkey Show is your nirvana. The show’s cast and crew is so dead-on in its recreation of the Golden Age of Disco that one viewing of this tremendously fun show will make you a diehard fan. The brainchild of a theater group known as Project 400, The Donkey Show takes the idea of interactive theater one step further and puts the audience right into the middle of all the carefully thought-out, and boldly choreographed, crazy, disco action. Based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Donkey Show gives the talented Anna Wilson the chance to play not one but two parts: a young disco crazed man, and a half-nude fairy queen. (She’s the one featured on all the posters and ads).

How did you get involved with the Donkey Show?

The four women in the show who play the main roles and the director and the writer–we are a company, and have done shows together. We met at Columbia grad school and formed this group called Project 400 Theatre Group. And we started The Donkey Show down on Ludlow [Street, on the Lower East Side] at The Piano Store about two years ago, transforming that tiny space into a disco and then moving the show to The Pyramid Club in the East Village, and then [producer] Jordan Roth wanted to produce a bigger production and brought us to El Flamingo where we are now.

Why the name Project 400?

We want to do 400 projects–then we figure we’ll know what we’re doing.

How long have you been doing the show? It must be exhausting, all that dancing, climbing, strutting.

I’ve been in every show since the beginning, but just this week I got to see it for the first time, now that we have understudies. We might go to London with the show, so we’ve been finally finding our replacements.

You’ll do well in London.

We hope so.

And Miami, then San Francisco.

That would be wonderful.

When you were a kid, is this where you thought you’d be in the year 2000?

Well, I thought I’d be married. (big laugh) But I always wanted to be an actor, though.

What’s your favorite song from a musical?

Oh!–I know, I know…what is it? I was just singing it…(hums)…something by Kurt Weill…

Who’s your personal hero?

Donny Osmond. (more laughter).

And who’s your personal villain?

Villain? Personal villain? Would that be someone like Sean Penn…cause he can be a villain…no no no. I watch too much TV, and I just saw one of those documentary type things and they did one on him, all the sensational stuff he’s done.

They did a Biography on Sean Penn?

Yeah, one of those shows, but I think it was VH-1. How he spent time in jail and how horrible he is to reporters.

Those shows are addictive.

I hadn’t seen this one before, which is amazing, since all I do is watch TV.

If there were a soap opera based on your life, what would it be called?

Growing Up as the Baby with George and Martha. That’s not a very good title though.

What role would you like to play that you will never get to play?

Oh, I guess I’d like to play some little waif ingénue, but I would really mess it up.

What’s your favorite four-letter-word?

I’m trying to never use them…(laughter)…so I really can’t say.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

In Oklahoma! in high school I fell flat on my face trying to attack another actor. It was embarrassing.

You were raised in Oklahoma?

No, I was in the show Oklahoma!

Oh, I get it. What is your pet peeve?

I can only think of things that annoy other people about me–oh, I have so many, I’ll have to call you back on that one.

If you could wake up in the morning with a skill that you don’t already possess, what would it be?

I think I’d like to be able to be a real acrobat.

What’s your favorite sound?

I think it’s the sound of the New York street.

Your favorite childhood game?

Putting on shows and directing my sister. I have videotapes of them all–they are just horrible, making my sister just do everything.

Rock or show tunes?

Religious tunes.

Morning or night?

Evening performances.

Intimate gatherings or wild parties?

Always intimate.

What do you do to unwind after a show?

Watch all these…what do you call them?, those shows? All those sensational informational television shows. I love them!