We took a few minutes from rehearsal to check in with the women of WIJ and learn a little bit about what career path has led them to our stage.
What was your first professional job as an actor?
Elizabeth Meadows Rouse: Dallas Shakespeare Festival; I played a fairy, a prostitute and a corpse. I made $50 a week. I still have a copy of the check.
Rosalyn Coleman: One of my first jobs was an internship at the Shakespeare theatre in DC. I played a lady-in-waiting to Hermione in Winter’s Tale and a shepherdess.
Anne Tolpegin: Summer Stock at Wagon Wheel Theatre in Warsaw, Indiana; that’s where I got my Equity card as well.
Do you have any actors, from stage or film or television, who’ve especially inspired you?
EMR: Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Dick Van Dyke, Jessica Lange and Glenn Close.
AT: There are too many to list! I admire women and men who have built a career from hard work, but who don’t take them selves or their success too seriously.
EMR: I go through my entire script every day, even closing. I have a physical and vocal warm up. But the most important thing I do is a prayer of gratitude RIGHT before I make my first entrance. I thank God for the gift of getting paid for what I love to do. I ask that I deliver my best so that I might honor the talents given me. I thank him for everyone in the audience and their efforts to be there. I pray for their safety in their travels and their enjoyment in the theatre. I offer appreciation for my cast and director and the opportunity to learn from them. This really helps with stage fright and puts things in perspective. It reminds me just how joyous the entire event should be.
RC: Mine is not too exciting. I warm up; jump rope sometimes. Go over my lines. Paint my face. Throw on my wig and go!
When you do a show, what challenges you the most?
EMR: Knowing that no performance will be perfect.
RC: Mindset: believing that I am enough to play this part.
AT: Staying healthy. It’s hard when you are traveling so much with the business.
Is there anything specifically challenging in Women in Jeopardy!?
EMR: The laser concentration. In a farce, you can’t let your mind wander for even a second. Also, not breaking character when my cast mates crack me up, which they do a lot!
RC: Although I have been acting for 26 years, I rarely do comedies. So, that’s a challenge.
A: ALL. THE. LINES. And I’m on stage virtually the whole show, so holding my bladder will be difficult.
In what ways are you like your Women in Jeopardy! character?
EWR: In more ways than I like to admit!
RC: I like to keep it real. I think so anyway. I have deep friendships. I am a know-it-all.
AT: I tend to enjoy the skill set of exaggeration and that might be something Mary does!
Anne, we loved you in The Last Ship; do you have a dream role?
AT: Frances in Bridges of Madison County, Diana in Next To Normal or the title role in The Drowsy Chaperone. I’m a musical theatre gal.
Elizabeth, what is yours?
EWR: Titania in Midsummer Nights Dream and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.
Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
AT: Hustle your networking skills and work as much as you can. Create your own work when there is none!
RC: Start where you are. Work in two ways: work with others, and create work for yourself. Never stop creating.
Final question, for all of you: describe the play in one word?