The two actors talk about Terrence McNally’s new play Unusual Acts of Devotion
by Joel Markowitz
It was closing weekend of a play which Broadway stars Faith Prince and Richard Thomas have both opened and continued working on during its five week premiere at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. You can feel their deep friendship for each other in this backstage interview with Joel Markowitz.
Faith and Joel kibbitz about her musical career and then she talks about playing Aggie in A Catered Affair and Josie – the hard drinking, tough-as-nails former teacher who is hiding many secrets and yearnings in Unusual Acts. “They are both extremely different women. Aggie was in a world where she believed her dreams could come true but she missed the mark.Going from one extreme to the other. That’s one of the reasons I did it. I wanted something so different from A Catered Affair.” Richard chimes in on his character Chick, a kindhearted, loving, hurting tour guide whose has never fully recovered emotionally since his lover killed himself by jumping off the roof. He has a hidden love and must act on it or be doomed to loneliness forever.
Washington audiences have had the pleasure of the company of these fine performers. Richard recently appeared in the one-man show Blanche and Beyond and will be part of the ensemble of Jason Robert Brown’s The Trumpet of The Swan on Dec 4-6th, both at The Kennedy Center. Faith recalls her DC stint in the musicals The Dead and Carousel, also at The Kennedy Center, and her recent concert at the Barns at Wolf Trap.
Why does Richard think of himself as a McNally Actor? “His voice is always in my ear..It seems to sit easily in my psyche..we have an affinity. Terrence writes for an actor (like me) who (work) is on the “large side.” Faith agrees about McNally’s works: “his characters are as wide as boisterous as they are deep.”
Richard compares McNally to his work with Tennessee Williams’ plays: “Tennessee Williams is a similar writer to Terrence. Their feet are planted in the world in the issues of human emotions, but their language is very poetic and very beautiful. Tennesee’s letters are easy to play.. They are like plays. They are meant to be spoken out loud.”
The run of Unusual Acts of Devotion has ended its five week run in Philadelphia. Here’s what they hope the audiences found in the play: Faith: “Realize that life is short and what you say and mean is important.”Richard: “The sense of having been entertained and moved and being emotionally involved.. Go home and perform an unusual act of devotion.”
Even though the show has closed and those not lucky enough to have seen it will have to wait for another production, those are good sentiments to keep in mind during the holiday season.