Alright everyone it’s time for another shameless plug for one of my Capital Fringe Shows. In today’s column we get to meet the full cast of Jesus Le Momo opening this Friday at The Bedroom at Fort Fringe. These six young actors are incredibly talented and well worth your time to come see. I will let them tell you about who they play in the show but here are six names you will be hearing a lot about in the near future. Elizabeth Salamon, Tyler Budde, Rachel Viele, Sean Sidbury, Liz Kinder and Molly MacKenzie. As an ensemble they are great to watch. As regular people they are a Stage Manager’s dream and believe me that is a rare thing.
Can you each tell us about your character in Jesus Le Momo?
Liz K- My character is a nursing student named Debbie who works part time at D.C. General. Her general background is that she came to D.C. for school, needed a place to stay and found the home provided by Jim and Gretchen, eventually falling in with the prayer group they led.
Tyler- I play Jim, a priest trying to leave the priesthood. Jim is the leader of the prayer group that this play centers around – a group which performs the practice of speaking in tongues, a practice in which Jim firmly believes. The character of Jim highlights a fascinating struggle between belief and reality, between idea and action.
Rachel- Gretchen is married to Jim, a former priest who is in the process of laicization. Her fear that he will turn back to the priesthood makes her become more skeptical of established religion and frustrated with her husband. She is looking for a miracle in her relationship with Jim, and in Momo she sees a miracle.
Sean- Paul is an 18-year-old conscientious objector who is working in this hospital to avoid going to Vietnam. He’s a bit of a slacker and is always ready with a smirk or a sarcastic quip. Although he doesn’t exactly identify with the counter-culture movement, he recognizes the importance of peace and believes the Vietnam War to be wrong. Paul found this Charismatic Christian group through his work with Debbie and Sue at the hospital. He’s a little freaked out at first by their particular brand of worship, but eventually warms up to them because of the good that they do for the homeless.
Liz S- I play Le Momo in Jesus le Momo who is the ghost of Antonin Artaud. If I had to describe Le Momo in one word it would be “unpredictable” with “lascivious” as a close second. He spends half the play torturing the other characters as he desperately searches for a way to resurrect himself which to anyone else would seem cruel but to Le Momo it’s all in a day’s work in getting what he wants.
Molly- My character in the show is Sue. Sue is a young nurse who is best friends and works with Debbie who is also a nurse. Sue is a girl of few words…and thoughts. She’s quirky, but doesn’t always know what is going on around her. She likes to have fun and go with the flow, but when it comes to those she cares about she is very protective if she thinks they’re being threatened….or once she figures out they are been threatened. For example, Sue looks up to Debbie who has really taken her under her wing. When she realizes the resurrection of Le Momo is no joke and Debbie is targeted by the dead poet Sue becomes very protective of her.
What was your favorite production you performed in while in college?
Liz K- I’ve recently graduated from Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester Virginia. My favorite show performed at Shenandoah is a tie between Assassins and Pride and Prejudice. In Assassins I was an understudy for Sara Jane Moore as well as Emma Goldman, which was a wonderful challenge that I ate up and enjoyed every second of it. The historical aspect of the characters was what truly intrigued me and how the closer we got to opening night, the more alive the characters truly became. We were thinking along the lines of our characters (scary!) which put the audience in the correct mindset to accept it. Pride and Prejudice was a blast simply because I played Mrs. Bennett and got to go absolutely crazy with it. She’s so whiny and self-centered and just oblivious to the feelings of those around her; it almost became a game for me to see how I could mess with my fellow cast members. Thankfully, they played along with it!
Tyler- I graduated from AU in 2010. I had the opportunity to perform in many productions at AU and I feel like this show continues to find ways to pull from all of them – whether it’s the blood in R+J or the social disconnects that exist in Noel Coward’s plays. I was in Coward’s Hay Fever in college with director Adi Stein. Definitely my favorite.
Rachel- For me it is a tie between Company (April) and Oklahoma! (Ado Annie) at AU. Artistically, I am most proud of the performance that I did in Company, but Oklahoma! was an amazing experience on a personal level. Something about that musical and its story of community building really brought everyone in the cast together in a special way.
Sean- My favorite production was definitely Chekhov’s Three Sisters, directed by Alisa Ivanova. Getting to work with a professor from the St. Petersburg State Theatre Arts School on a Chekhov piece was one of the most, if not the most valuable experiences I have had as an actor. We had an intense rehearsal process characterized by strange and unique exercises, which I have never done before or since, that made our character connection stronger and made us stronger actors.
Liz S- That’s actually a really tough question because I was lucky enough to be a part of so many beautiful and exciting productions at AU and every single one of them changed my way of thinking and performing. However, if I had to choose it would be a tie between Nine (directed by Carl Menninger) and Oklahoma! (directed by Karl Kippola). Nine was the production I was most proud of my acting and character work because I started with a character (Our Lady of the Spa) that didn’t make any sense to me and was not at all explained in the play, and with a lot of hard work ended with a woman who’s role in the life of the show I thoroughly understood and loved. Oklahoma!, however, was a show unlike any I’ve ever been a part of because of the real community that was built by the director and the actors. It was a show filled with hard work and pure joy every day of the process and some of the best memories of my college career came from there. It was the show that made me a part of the AU performing arts community and further affirmed my desire to be an actor.
Molly- I recently graduated from George Mason University with a B.A. in Theater. I did a lot of great shows through Mason and it’s a tough decision to make, but I think I’d have to say the character of Ginny in Dan Dietz’s play, TempODYSSEY. It was such a huge part for me and I poured myself into that whole show. Everyone did. That was part of what made it so great too. We had cast warm-ups every rehearsal and our energy was always up. My director, Joshua Paul McCreary, I remember made me do a lot of improvisational character work which I loved. One of my favorite things from the show was he was always pushing me to find new discoveries and moments within the text. I didn’t want him to go easy on me, I like working hard and I wanted to show everyone what I had.
Picking one from a musical and one from a play, what would your dream roles be?
Liz K- I think the stereotypical answer is Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. She’s just so wonderfully written and I think it would be a blast to jump into that character head-first. I also wouldn’t mind playing Sara Jane Moore again – the crazy characters are way more fun. My absolute dream role though would have to be Joan of Arc in Saint Joan. She is such a strong character that truly fights with every part of her for what she believes in. It’s a goal of mine to play a warrior woman at some point in my life, if not repeatedly, and I hope Joan’s somewhere in that mix.
Tyler-I get excited by so many things! New plays and musicals the most, but I also love the classics and would love to play Iago someday. I don’t really know my musicals, but I played the Voice of the Plant in Little Shop of Horrors once – it was the best time of my life. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Rachel- This is very difficult because I have a lot of dream roles…musicals are especially hard. As embarrassing a choice as it may be, I have always wanted to play Belle in Beauty and the Beast. It was the first musical I ever saw and I would love to be the romantic heroine for once (I always end up playing the sidekick because I’m a mezzo). For play I think I would choose Constance from King John (when I’m older) because she has some of the most beautifully written monologues in all of Shakespeare’s works.
Sean- My dream role for a play would probably be Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello. I got my first taste of playing a Shakespearean villain as Richard III in high school and I’ve wanted to play another ever since. If I could choose any role from a musical to play, it would be the Youth from Passing Strange, but seeing as my heritage is almost exclusively British, I don’t think that’ll be happening any time soon.
Liz S- This is DEFINITELY a dream role because it could literally only happen in dreams but my dream role from a musical is to be Sweeney in Sweeney Todd which I lack certain male and baritone/bass qualities to ever play. It’s my absolute favorite musical because the music is SO intricate and beautiful to an almost mathematically perfect point and because the character of Sweeney is so intricate and interesting. My dream role from a play though is definitely Cleopatra from Antony and Cleopatra because I love the language of the play and the duality of Cleopatra’s strength in leadership and her weakness for Antony. She’s just such a fierce character.
Molly- Being the character of Ginny was more than great. I was so excited to delve into the role. In the show Ginny takes on three forms: herself, herself as a young girl in flash backs, and when she believes herself to be the God of Death. I loved working to understand each sub-character and then her as a whole. Performing as Ginny in TempODYSSEY was amazing, but getting to know and create her throughout the process was surreal.
Liz S and Sarah- You both have to speak in tongues during Jesus Le Momo. Do you find it hard to do this or is it something that comes easy to you?
Rachel- Nope, it’s totally weird. I don’t have any strong religious convictions, so it is somewhat hard to try to discover the kind of “faith” that would make one speak in tongues.
Liz S- Speaking in tongues is definitely not something I would say I do on a daily basis or ever for that matter. It was really difficult to memorize because it is basically nonsense words and it was even more difficult to get used to saying because it’s so unnatural. I’ll admit I felt a little self conscious having to recite it at first but now it’s no big deal. Not to mention it’s nothing compared to some of the other antics Momo gets up to in this play!
After Jesus Le Momo do any of you have any shows lined up?
Liz K- I currently don’t have anything lined up, but am auditioning everywhere I can and moving to DC in September!
Tyler- I also wrote and produced a Fringe show called Stone Age Recreation – see it!!
Rachel- Not yet. I haven’t looked for anything yet actually because right after the show ends I am moving into a new apartment and I also want to have a brief break so that I can visit home because I haven’t been there since December. But I really need to look for a project for the fall.
Sean- No… so please cast me
Liz S- After Le Momo I will be continuing my understudy work at Imagination Stage for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and looking for my next project!
Molly- I open another show before Jesus Le Momo even closes! It’s extremely exciting! I’ll be performing as Snow White and the Evil Queen in The Puppet Company’s upcoming production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. We open on July 21st and run until Labor Day. Come out and see the show! It’s a great for all ages!