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Posts Tagged ‘“The Divine Sister”’

Stage presence, comedic timing, and a smile to light up the room, Amy Rutberg is a performer to go see! From television to film to theatre, Amy has conquered them all!

She has delighted theatre audiences in New York as well as regionally throughout the US. NY credits include “Perfect Harmony,” “The Jazz Age,” “Our Leading Lady,” “Ostrovsky,” “The Civil War,” “The Night They Raided Minsky’s,” “Bat Boy The Musical,” “The Grave White Way,” and the current Off-Broadway smash hit “The Divine Sister” (click here for my review). Regionally, Amy has lit up the stage in “Dracula,” “Dracula The Musical,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Man of La Mancha,” “My Fair Lady,” “Porkbroker’s Daughter,” “Bye, Bye, Birdie,” “The Pajama Game,” “Into The Woods,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Lysistrata,” “Evita,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Two Gentleman of Verona,” and “You Can’t Take It With You.”

In Film and Television, Amy has been seen in HBO’s “Recount,” “Inside Out,” “Camp Summer Stage,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “The Unusuals,” “As The World Turns,” “Everwood,” “Broken Record,” “Pacific Blue,” “Fourteenth,” and “Emma & Lorraine.”

Amy’s comedic strengths have been showcased in “Gravid Water” with Upright Citizen’s Brigade and “Don’t Quit Your Night Job” at HA! Comedy club and are currently being featured in Charles Busch’s “The Divine Sister” at the SoHo Playhouse in NYC (15 Vandam Street, between Varick Street & 6th Ave), where she is making audiences laugh out loud hysterically 8 times a week!

For much more on Amy, be sure to visit http://www.amyrutberg.com.

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? There was never a moment when I thought “I want to be a performer” I just WAS a performer. I had no fear as a child. If there was anything that resembled a stage in my proximity I was climbing onto it and singing. I would come home from school and tell my mother that I had a class assignment where I was supposed to dress up as a character from a book. She knew this wasn’t true but would indulge in my fantasy. She would help me put together a costume and then I would come to class dressed up as “Romona the Pest” and insist on singing “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles in front of everyone…dressed as Romona the Pest. I think everyone else knew I would be a performer way before I did. I was lucky to have encouraging parents and teachers. Well, maybe not always encouraging but at least tolerant.

2. Who is the one  person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? I’d love to work with some more fabulous theatre directors like Jack O’Brien or David Cromer. I love their work.

3. What is your most embarrassing on-stage moment? This is an easy one! I did a play called “Perfect Harmony” Off-Broadway last year and I accidentally called an actress by her real name in a scene. That was humiliating. Not sure anyone noticed but she sure did!

4. If you couldn’t be doing what you are doing now, what career would you choose? Running a Hedge Fund.

5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “Better to Loose the battle and win the war” and “Look at your career as a marathon not a race.” They probably came from the same person.

6. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? I have a big time sweet tooth and I love coffee, so both make me happy. Not crazy about the donuts at Dunkin. I’m from Southern California. Nothing beats a Winchell’s donut. I like that banana coffee cake thing at Starbucks.

7. Favorite way to stay in shape? Oy. I like the classes at “Crunch,” it’s motivating. I also like biking. Anything to avoid cutting out sweets.

8. Favorite skin care product? Kihels “Brightening Botanical Moisture Fluid.” It’s so refreshing after I take of the lbs of makeup I wear for “Divine Sister.” I have a fab dermatologist Dr. Geyer. He gives me free samples and laughs at my jokes. I love him!!

9. Favorite website? www.travelandleisure.com

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Charles Busch.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Dr. Geyer- I mean, um.. world peace!

12. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? I’m really good at brain teasers and games of skill like card games. Backstage I’m often playing word games with my brother on my iphone between scenes.  Also, I once discovered I have an unusual affinity to Bocce ball. Wonder how that can be monetized? I love to gamble. Acting is really the perfect profession for me.


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On November 4, 2010, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with real-life married couple Jonathan Walker and Jennifer Van Dyck after seeing them in hilarious new Charles Busch show “The Divine Sister” at the SoHo Playhouse. This was my very first joint couple interview (Thank You James Valletti for the idea!) and it was thrilling! With impeccable comedic timing, Jonathan and Jennifer bring the house down while on stage both together and separately.

Jonathan has delighted audiences on Broadway in “20th Century” and “After the Fall,” while Off-Broadway audiences saw him in Charles Busch’s “The Third Story,” “The Divine Sister” at Theater for a New City as well as numerous productions at The Public Theater, MCC, MTC, Women’s Project, The New Group, Playwrights Horizons, Roudabout Theatre Company, La MaMa, and P.S. 122. Jonathan has lit up the big screen in such feature films as “Far From Heaven,” “People I Know,” “Heights,” “Michael Clayton,” and “Malevolence 2.” Television audiences have seen Jonathan in “The Big C,” “The Good Wife,” “Eli Stone,” “Sex and the City,” “Chapelle’s Show,” and lots of “Law & Order.”

Jennifer has dazzled Broadway audiences in “Hedda Gabbler,” “Dancing at Lughnasa,” “Two Shakespearean Actors,” and “The Secret Rapture.” Her many Off-Broadway credits include Charles Busch’s “The Third Story” and “The Divine Sister” at Theater for a New City as well as plays by Austin Pendleton, Bathsheba Doran, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Douglas Post. Film/TV audiences have seen Jennifer in “Across the Universe,” “Michael Clayton,” “Stealing Martin Lane,” “Series 7,” “States of Control,” numerous “Law & Order” episodes, “Fringe,” and “New Amsterdam.”

Now you can see both Jonathan and Jennifer shine in “The Divine Sister” at SoHo Playhouse (15 Van Dam Street) along with fellow Adaubmelle’s Quest participants Charles Busch, Julie Halston, Alison Fraser, and upcoming participant Amy Rutberg! This show is a MUST SEE, so click here for tickets and enjoy an afternoon or evening in heaven…

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer?

Jennifer: I always wanted to be an actress. There was never any question. It really began growing up…my friend and I would always put on productions of “The Wizard of Oz” and she played “Dorothy,” of course, and I played “The Scarecrow.” As far as people who inspired me, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. I was completely mesmerized by “I Love Lucy” reruns growing up.

Jonathan: A number of the guys I gleaned for this show, and I mean this in a good way, the cheesy leading men in the 60s/70s who I admired growing up, like Chad Everett who was on a show called “Medical Center” (who was actually in the “Singing Nun”), Charlton Heston, Dick Van Dyke, and Dick York. Also as a child, we were church going (look how it all blends with this show) and a troupe came to our church called the Alpha and Omega Players (who still exist today) and they travel around in a van and put on religious-themed (but not evangelical) shows. They came into our church, I must have been 6, and they transformed it into a performance space. They did a shortened version of “St. Joan” and I was undone. To see that space I was in three days a week turned into this thing and I have a distinct memory of standing out front of the church as the van pulled away, bursting into tears and saying to my father “I wanna go with them,” (you know instead of running away to the circus). So from “Bewitched” to “St. Joan” was the real early inspirations for me.

Jennifer: The other side of that for me was The Paperbag Players. My parents took me to that when I was very young and they terrified me. I remember they were doing Grimm’s Fairytales and people’s fingers were being cut off and people were being locked in cellars, but I was utterly transported to another world. I remember being both terrified and thrilled by the whole thing and remember saying “I want to do that.”

2. Who’s the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to?

Jennifer: Mike Leigh, the filmmaker (he’s directed “Topsy Turvy,” “Happy-Go-Lucky,” “Vera Drake,” etc), who comes from a theatre background. I just read his book and I’m just so in awe of him. I love his films. He does like six months of rehearsal with his actors, so by the time they shoot the film, the actors really know their characters inside and out. It sounds like a terrifying prospect, but I’ve always been fascinated by rehearsing as if you were living a character. Then getting to do it for film, which normally has no rehearsal, but his way you seem like you get the best of both worlds with theatre and film combined.

Jonathan: I would have to say it’s always been Vanessa Redgrave. I put out feelers for “Driving Miss Daisy” you know when they were casting it and I heard with in two days that Boyd (Gaines) was getting it and I was like “Yes, of course he is.”

3. If you couldn’t be doing what you are doing now, what career would you choose?

Jonathan: We were just talking about that with our friend Matt. You know the actor Matt McGrath, well Matt is always talking about “Drop out dream #whatever, opening a candle shop” because it’s so up and down in our profession. You go through a 2-3 month foul period and you’re like “I stink,” “They stink,” “It all stinks.” Then you go okay, Surfboard shop, masseuse, priest, baker…I always wanted to be a UPS delivery man. They have those lovely brown outfits with the shorts and the socks and I see them on the street and I go “Oh, oh, I’d love to do that, wouldn’t that be fun delivering packages all day.” (no, no that would be terrible). All jobs are difficult, all jobs are hard, that’s why they call it jobs! In all seriousness, I’d like to work with a not-for-profit group. I do a lot of volunteer work and now I’m working with a group called “Transportation Alternatives.” It’s a cycling, pedestrian, and mass transit advocacy group. I worked for the Green Gorillas for a while and God’s Love We Deliver. They’re just great because people are there for a reason. That is something I would probably do because they do good work so if I could get job with one of them full time, I would.

Jennifer: I guess I would be a teacher. I have no experience teaching, I know nothing. My mom’s a teacher and my dad’s a minister, so that’s what I’ve seen (they’ve seen this show many times already and love it, the irreverence and all).

4. How did you guys meet?

Jennifer: Doing a play…we did a production of “Hamlet” at the Old Globe, directed by Jack O’Brien. Jonthan was “Laertes” and I was “Ophelia” and Campbell Scott was our “Hamlet.”

5. What’s it like to work together and live together? How does the whole dynamic work?

Jonathan: We spend 23 hours a day together and that 1 hour apart is if you add up all the bathroom time, okay, so maybe we spend 22 hours out of the day together, if we’re including gym time. (Jennifer laughs)

Jennifer: It’s great. When we worked with Jack at The Globe, we did a couple of seasons there doing plays, but then we didn’t work together, other than readings, for like 15 years, before Charles (Busch) put us both in “The Third Story” by sheer accident…We did that in La Jolla and then that came here and all the while we got to know Charles and then he wrote this play for us…

Jonathan: We’ve been in like four plays together with Charles (2 productions of “The Third Story” and 2 productions of “The Divine Sister” (the previous one being the limited run in March ’10 at Theatre for a New City). So, we really like it. You know, we’re married, we live together, we love each other, but really like each other too and respect each other’s work…

Jennifer: I’m always amazed when actors marry civilians because schedule wise, you have no weekends, you can not plan ahead, you can’t do anything when you’re working because you’re so focused on the show…

Jonathan: (not in reference to Jennifer) But you’re also a nut job, you know, you’re out of your mind, you’ve got opening night and you’re like “Blahhh,” but the other person understands…

Jennifer: Right, so we get it, and it’s been amazing with “The Divine Sister” because it’s not just understanding one of us is in a play, we’re in the same play, so we go home and we’re like “oh that sucked” or “wow, that was great” or “what about that…”

Jonathan: Or we go “oh you had a great show, no I had a rotten show, you had a great show….”

Jennifer: We have some of that.

Jonathan: When we were opening, I was thinking maybe it would be interesting to come home to someone who has no connection to the show, because, it’s hard to come home and just detach. We’re always dissecting the show, but we don’t senor that cause it’s actually nice, even on our night off or on Sunday nights we’ll often go out to dinner and we kind of refrain for 20 minutes or so from talking about the show and then we just give into it…

Me: You guys, the whole cast, work so well together. I really feel like it’s such an ensemble piece.

Jennifer: It’s a great bunch and we all work great together. You know, Charles wrote this show for all of us and we’ve been together since the beginning and there is a real sense of comfort and ease with each other.

Jonathan: You know it’s not a lie, we really all get along and like each other. It’s really a cooperative thing, like tonight, the audience is really part of the ensemble. It’s not like “Long Days Journey Into Night” which drags you along, but the audience goes through something too and that’s part of Charles’ charm, and talent, and genius. He comes right out and puts you in his hand and he’s kind of taught us to do that a little bit and be there for the audience, and say “Come on, let’s go, let’s go do a dirty nun’s story.” (everyone laughs).

6. Favorite place to rehearse on your own?

Jennifer: In our building, our dear friend Richard Easton lives upstairs from us (as does Julie and her husband) and he was away during the time we were rehearsing “The Divine Sister” for the first time and we would take turns going up to his place to learn our lines because in our one bedroom apartment there is only a door that you can close, which usually isn’t enough to learn the lines separately….

Jonathan: It worked out great, one in his apartment and one in our apartment. The street is another good place to rehearse on your own. John Gielgud who lived in the country, used to talk about walking the roads saying lines to himself and thinking all his neighbors thought he was crazy.

Jennifer: I do learn plays when I run. Once the lines are starting to go in, I do them on the run and then I add on to what I’ve already learned. I make faces and sometimes I think other runners are like what the hell is going on. That is sort of a very meditative time for me to learn my lines.

7. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Jennifer: The first professional job I had was at Trinity Rep and Richard Jenkins was directing me in a production of “The Crucible” and he basically said to me “There is no clear path how one goes through this life (for a career). One step does not lead to another. There are side steps and vertical steps and horizontal steps. Let the unknown be your compass.”

Jonathan: I was working a lot in LA doing television and there’s a famous story that someone asked Estelle Getty “What advice do you have for a young actor trying to make it in LA?” She said, “Take Fountain” (that’s a street in LA that cuts below Sunset Blvd). You know, she’s absolutely right, you were able to get right across town, the lights worked, you were out of traffic. In LA, all you do is drive from audition to audition and I would drive down Fountain and be like, “She’s right, Estelle Getty was right.” But in line with what Jennifer said, Richard Easton gave me a piece of advice “Say, Yes” and he means that in all senses. If someone calls you up and says do you want to do a reading, say yes, because work leads to work.

8. Favorite way to spend your day off?

Jennifer: It would be to be together…

Jonathan: Often. I would say, “There ain’t enough hours in the day for the nothing I want to do.”

Both: Being in Vermont, walking in the woods.

9. Favorite website?

Jennifer: BBC News, Merriam Webster Dictionary (because I do a lot audio books and they have a pronouncing key where you can type in a word and then hear how it’s pronounced.

Jonathan: There’s a website called Chowhound.com which is an amazing resource for food. It’s a place for people who like food and like to talk about food, give recipes, restaurant suggestions, etc. There was also a website called Loronix.com, it’s a Brazilian music website and you can download all this music legally.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman?

Jennifer: Wonder Woman

Jonathan: Superdog, for me, but if I had to answer the question exactly, I would say Superman because I never quite got Wonder Woman with the rope and the bracelets. But I also love Richie Rich, Scrooge McDuck, and Baby Huey.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about?

Jennifer: I’m a ferocious burper. I don’t know if I’d call that a talent, but I got it from my mother and I can really let ’em rip…

Jonathan: You can really let ’em rip…I think that your portrayal of “Timmy” in “The Divine Sister” was a hidden talent. It wasn’t “Timmy” per say, but she’s very, very silly at home and pulled “Timmy” out of a hat and I’ve never seen anything like that before from her in my life…

Jennifer: (to Jonathan) What’s your secret talent?

Jonathan: I used cage drinks doing this…I can take 2 toothpicks and put them in my mouth, in my lower lip, and actually cross them, and then put them up my nose without touching them and then move my lower lip and make my nose go up and down. I know, it’s totally a stupid human trick. It’s vile and creepy and it’s odd and very few people can do it.

12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be?

Both laughs…

Jennifer: You (meaning Jonathan)

Jonathan: and I’ll have to say Kate Winslet, but seriously the happiest dreams I have are when Jennifer’s in them.

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Tonight I saw comedic genius at it’s best in a splendid Off-Broadway show called “The Divine Sister.” The show is a true ensemble piece featuring fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participants Charles Busch (who also wrote the show), Julie Halston, Alison Fraser, along with Jennifer Van Dyck, Jonathan Walker, and Amy Rutberg.

St. Veronica’s is in shambles and “Mother Superior” must find a way to build a new school for her Pittsburgh convent. Paying homage to such Hollywood films as “The Song of Bernadette,” “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” “The Singing Nun,” “The Sound of Music,” and Broadway’s Tony Award Winning play “Doubt,” the laughter ensues moment after moment!

Whether it’s a look, tone inflection, or impersonation/imitation, these performers know the meaning of comedic timing, stage presence, and most of all performance! Everyone has their moment to shine and the chemistry between this cast is stupendous, playing off of each other exquisitely.

I saw this show in development last year at Theater for a New City and let me tell you as golden as it was last year, it’s now a real piece of heaven not to be missed!

The Divine Sister” plays at the SoHo Playhouse at 15 Vandam Street in NYC!

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Be sure to catch four time Mac Award Winner and fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Julie Halston this Sunday, April 11 at 6pm at one of New York City’s most famous jazz clubs Birdland for an all new show of stand-up comedy entitled “The Cocktail Hour/A Reality Show.” Joining Julie as a special guest will be two-time Tony Award nominee & fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Alison Fraser! This is surely going to be a night of laughter and fun, so be sure to call 212-581-3080 for reservations!

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Tonight, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Alison Fraser after seeing her amazingly wonderful comedic genius of a performance in Charles Busch’s “The Divine Sister.” Alison is a two-time Tony Award nominee for her role of “Martha” in “The Secret Garden” and “Josefine” in “Romance/Romance.” Her other Broadway credits include her fantastic performance as “Tessie Tura” in the 2008 revival of “Gypsy” starring Patti LuPone, as well as “Dorine” in “Tartuffe,” and “Helena” in “Drood.” Off-Broadway, Alison has captivated audiences as “Trina” in “March of the Falsettos” and “In Trousers,” “Connie/Petula/Brenda” in “Beehive,” “Uta” in “The Green Heart,” and “Miss Drumgoole” in “Up Against It.” In television and film, Alison has lit up the screen in “Between the Lions,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Third Watch,” “The Thing About My Folks,” and “In The Blood.” You can catch Alison in “The Divine Sister,” along with fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participants Charles Busch and Julie Halston at Theater for The New City through March 7. For much more on Alison be sure to visit: http://www.alisonfraser.com.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Anthony Newley. I fell madly in love with him when I was fifteen and the die was cast. I got to meet him years later when I interviewed him for TimeOut and he was even better than I had imagined him. An amazing talent, and a really interesting guy.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Pink. I am totally obsessed with her and I desperately want to play her mother in a music video. Hopefully there will be aerial stuntwork involved.

3. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My late husband, Rusty Magee. A lot of other people have told me they have been visited by him in their dreams, and I haven’t been, so I am jealous.

4. What is your proudest moment? I would have to say “Sweet Appreciation.” This was the night 300 people got together at the West Bank Cafe to celebrate my husband while he was still around to enjoy it. Lew Black really helped put this evening together and there were some great performers such has Rebecca Luker and Mary Testa. But the definite high point was when Rusty performed. He was on fire.

5. Favorite quote? Jonathan Swift: “Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well deceived.”

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I used to be an acrobat. I’m very, very flexible. Are you listening Pink?

7.  Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Dunkin’ Donuts all the way. They use free trade coffee, they don’t burn it, they put the milk in for you and they are cheaper. Large coffee, whole milk. With a delicious breakfast sandwich on a biscuit if I am feeling peckish.

8. Favorite skin care product? Obagi physical sun block, Sabon “mud” soap, and almond oil. Almond oil, you ask? Our costume designer Fabio Toblini told me it’s the best remedy for dry shins. It works great, but my cats keep licking my legs.

9. Favorite website? awfulplasticsurgery.com and gawker.com are guilty pleasures. Whenever I look a hundred years old in the mirror and think, hmmmm, a little nip, a little tuck, I go to awfulplasticsurgery.com, get revolted, and save myself thousands of dollars.

10. “Mary” or “Rhoda”? Mary. Rhoda’s self-deprecation wears a bit thin. “ooh I’m so homely, ooh I’m so fat.” What are you talking about?? You’re gorgeous! Puh-leeze.

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Be sure to catch the legendary Charles Busch and Julie Halston (both fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participants) together, live on stage, in Charles’ new play “The Divine Sister” at Theatre for the New City from February 7-March 7 only! If you’ve never seen a Charles Busch play or had the fortunate experience of seeing Julie & Charles together, then this is your chance. It’s a real old fashioned campy Charles Busch play, so you’re in for a real treat…but first enjoy the questions that did not make the original interview:

CHARLES BUSCH BONUS QUESTIONS:

1. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Derek Hough from Dancing With The Stars. Can something be arranged?

2. “Mary” or “Rhoda”? Definitely Mary, with a lot of Lucy thrown in.

JULIE HALSTON BONUS QUESTIONS:

1. What is the best advice you’ve given someone, but not taken for yourself? Don’t sweat the small stuff and guess what most of it is small stuff.

2. “Mary” or “Rhoda”? I used to be Rhoda but now i think I’m more Mary!!

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