Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cast Member of Nobody Explores Montgomery

Margaret Loesser Robinson from the Cast of Nobody shares her experiences in Montgomery while in rehearsals for the show.

     I started my journey to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival under one week ago at LaGuardia airport.  After having sat at my flight’s gate for about an hour, a man turned around, looked at me and pointed at me.  I pointed back.  We had found each other--somehow, you can just tell who amongst your fellow passengers is your fellow actor.  Call it artistic profiling.  And so began our journey--we flew into Atlanta, and were met by our wonderful company manager, Crystal, and met several other cast members before starting the drive to Montgomery.  I’ve been ready to come to Montgomery for some time; I have held a long distance fondness for the south and things southern for some time now but have only made it as far down as Florida, and so I greeted the warm air, the hospitality, the accent, and the biscuits eagerly.  One of my favorite things about being a regional theatre actor is getting to live in and experience new places--make a temporary home and try to take advantage of my free time to do some exploring.  And free time is something I have in some abundance at the moment--I don’t make my way onto the stage until the second act in Nobody, so I’ve had the luxury of getting out and about in advance of our first official day off.  Already, I’ve been to the Zelda Sayre and F. Scott Fitzgerald Museum in the beautiful Cloverdale Historic District. When I arrived, I was greeted by the man who has run the museum for the past five years and actually lives in the house itself (with his cat, named Zelda, of course) who invited me to sit down in the living room and chat before looking around; this is part of what I love already about the south.  People take a little more time here, time to get to know one another.  He actually offered to rent me an apartment in Zelda’s childhood home for 500 dollars a month when he found out I was a Zelda fan--an offer I seriously considered for a brief moment.  As we parted ways, he remarked that as a “living historian,” he and I, as an actor, had a lot in common as people who keep the past alive.  On the sun porch, there was a faded newspaper article about a play performed at ASF years ago called Zelda. 
     Already, I have taken a quick drive though downtown Montgomery just to get a lay of the land, have enjoyed Publix to no end, and am a fan of Zoe’s Kitchen in Eastchase.  I also made my first visit to the Museum of Fine Art--I am sure to be back.  I liked Café M for its name, and also for its food, and yet again for Jonas, who let me try the Brunswick Stew when he found out (yes, from my “accent”) that I wasn’t from the south and had never tried or heard of this delicacy.  It was delicious and I felt indoctrinated in a way.  I saw Jonas a couple of days later--he was working at an event before a performance of (the excellent) Harriet’s Return and he remembered my name!  New York City, this is not. 
   As I continue to explore Montgomery and its environs, I am also hard at work  finding out all there is to know about Eva Tanguay, the real life vaudevillian I play in Nobody.  She was a real madcap, and tales of her backstage antics--including an arrest for sticking a stagehand with a hatpin--are wild.  Here’s a link to a NYTimes article about the arrest. This clip of Bert Williams singing “Nobody” may also be of interest.

I’m looking forward to sharing more of our casts adventures--on stage and off…

Margaret Loesser Robinson recently arrived in Montgomery to play the role of Eva Tanguay in the world premiere of Nobody at ASF. This new musical is based on the true-life characters of Bert Williams and George Walker, two African-American vaudevillians who couldn't catch a break at the big-time until they did the unthinkable and performed in black face. By doing so, they broke racial barriers and paved the way for modern entertainers of all racial backgrounds. Margaret's character, Eva Tanguay is another real-life vaudeville performer who worked in the same entertainment community as Bert Williams and George Walker.