We're in the midst of an interesting interview with Maggie Roop, who is playing the ingénue role of Kenni in the new comedy, Becky's New Car, playing now through November 6 at Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern. This is Part 2 in a three-part series. In the photo below, we see Maggie with Durron Tyre and Mark Persinger in Theatre IV's 2011 production of Honk!)
Q - Thanks again, Maggie, for talking with us about your experiences in and around Richmond theatre. Enquiring minds want to know.
A - Don't you mean "inquiring"?
Q - Well, yes, but ... It's a slogan used in the 80s by the National Enquirer, so ...
A - Now you're starting to scare me.
Q - I'm sorry. I'll try to sound less like someone who's lurking in the shrubbery with Bat Boy. Do you supplement your acting with a day job? What is it?
A - I'm very lucky. During the day I work at Romp n' Roll in Midlothian. The company is locally owned and provides classes in Gym, Art and Music for children under 5. I'm the manager there and I also get to teach classes. It's a great way to spend my days before I head to the theatre. In addition to my love of theatre, my next great passion is educating children and nurturing their development.
Q - What are your long term career aspirations?
A - Some Richmond theatre community members may not know that Matt Shofner (VCU grad, actor/singer/dancer and all around fantastic person and pal, pictured to the right) has just moved backed to RVA. Matt and I have a strong desire to bring something more to the theatre community so we are currently working on a new project together. We will be producing some exciting new events starting in the New Year which will help to bring the theatre community together and showcase the rich talent that our fair city has to offer. Stay tuned for more news!!
Q - Now you're the one being cryptic. I like that.
A - Happy to oblige.
Q - You've worked with a variety of directors over the years. How much specific blocking / character advice etc. do you like to receive from a director? Or do you prefer a more organic process?
A - I think one of my greatest strengths as an actor is my willingness to be a piece of clay. At the beginning of my process I really like to give in to what the director is offering me and flow with it. This is something I have honed since school. I find it easier to start out not resisting what the director gives me (within reason) and then as the process continues I start to build on that foundation with the character nuances and specific choices I've found along the way. I think this is what makes Billy Christopher Maupin (pictured to the left) and me such a good team. We have a great push-pull relationship and we speak the same language. Which is why, if you look at my resume, you will see his name peppered generously upon it!!!
Q - You recently had the chance to meet the Staadeckers, the couple that contributed the funding to originally commission Becky's New Car in Seattle. What was that experience like?
A - It was, for lack of a better word, magical. Their passion for this play and for the process of commissioning a play is so inspiring. I hope they are paving the way for more people to take a chance and do what they did, so that theatre across the country and the world can continue to flourish in such a collaborative way.
Q - This is your second show at Hanover Tavern. Can you describe for our readers one example of something that makes the Tavern experience unique?
A - There's no denying that it is a wonderful experience to work in such a beautiful, historic building. The story behind the Tavern makes me feel like I am part of something special. I love the Tavern audiences too! Richmond is blessed with an exceptionally supportive and growing base of theatre patrons. But there's something about the folks who come to Hanover Tavern. They have an energy and appreciation for the shows we do that is palpable.
Q - Some people think of Richmond theatre as a closed shop, or Barksdale as a closed shop. What is your opinion about that issue?
A - I think this is an unavoidable issue in any theatre community. But honestly, I feel like I'm meeting new theatre artists and seeing new actors in Richmond theatre all the time. Evan Nasteff (Chris in Becky's New Car, that's Evan peering over Maggie's shoulder in the Becky's promo shot to the right, with Gordon Bass) and Christine Fonsale (Ginger in BNC) are perfect examples of this. Becky's New Car is Evan's first show in a few years, and Christine is a Williamsburg actor making her Richmond debut. They are both new, fresh faces on a Richmond stage. There's always going to be a core group of people at any theatre who are consistently cast because of their talents and abilities, or because directors and producers know how great they are to work with. A wonderful aspect of Richmond theatre, to me, is that we have both--a broad base of experienced professionals always welcoming a new crop of fresh talent. I like the mix, and wouldn't want to lose one for the other.
(the third and final installment coming next Monday)