Today’s TOP FIVE comes to us from Kristy Hartsgrove Mooers, an actor who found her passion in community theatre, went off to college to get an MFA, and now teaches theatre and acts professionally around the area. The first time I saw Kristy act, it was in Wait Until Dark, a show I directed for ICCT. She played Susy, a blind woman who is terrorized by a criminal, but turns the tables on him by using her blindness against him. Kristy was incredible in the role, owning every moment of Suzy’s journey. However, behind the scenes she was sure she was screwing it all up. I think the humility in Kristy (somewhat rare in the acting profession) is part of what makes her such a truthful actor. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her list. And so will David Lindsay-Abaire. –Matt Falduto
I am not a person who feels comfortable making lists like these, actually, because inevitably you have to leave out experiences that deserve to be mentioned and then you lie awake at night thinking of all the plays you didn’t talk about and you are gnawed with guilt and remorse. I reject guilt and remorse, and lists, usually, because one inevitably leads to the other and then you are left subsumed in a hellish roundelay, where there is no sleeping… only fretting and regrets. But Matt Falduto said “make a list,” so I have been forced. Mind you, these are in no particular order and I am definitely leaving out a lot of experiences that are beloved and formative because there’s only space for five. If you are mad that you aren’t on the list, I can give you Matt’s home phone number and you can call him and lodge a complaint about the tyranny.
Directed by Mary Beth Easley, with Kristen DeGrazia, Rebekah Stein, Saffron Henke, Ethan Henry. I am a huge fan of the writing of Sarah Ruhl, a huge fan of Mary Beth Easley’s impeccable direction, and a huge fan of the entire cast of this play. I am also a huge fan of the entire design team, the crew, and also I am a huge fan everyone who came to see it. I am also a fan of the dormant Iowa Summer Repertory, and I for one hope it comes back.
2) Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire. Riverside Theatre, 2014.
Directed by Ron Clark, with Carrie Houchins Witt, Tim Budd, Jody Hovland, Osean Perez and Mallory Raven Backstrom. This play was an extraordinary experience, as it should always be for anyone who works on this script because it is so rich and good. It’s rare and special when the issues I care about and things I want to talk about in life and completely overlap with the art I get to be a part of making. I love everyone who worked on this show and everyone who came to see it, also.
3) Broken Chord by Jennifer Fawcett. Working Group Theatre at Hancher, 2013.
Directed by Sean Lewis, with Tim Budd, Saffron Henke, Chris Okiishi, Rip Russell, Martin Andrews, Elizabeth June Bergman, Tim Budd, Maggie Conroy, Kathy Maxey, Janet Schlapkohl. Way before we started rehearsals, Jennifer Fawcett wrote this incredible scene between a brother and a sister and Martin Andrews had Tim Budd and I read it cold for an audience of fundraisers and theatre enthusiasts. Even reading it ice cold, no prep whatsoever, the scene’s energy crackled and we knew she was creating something extraordinary. As we worked on the play and relationships continued to deepen, I realized how lucky we were not only to be working on this incredible material, but to be working with this really gifted, kind group of humans that we all knew in and outside of theatre. I’ll never forget the experience.
4) Kimberly Akimbo by David Lindsay-Abaire. Riverside Theatre, 2014.
Directed by Sean Lewis, with Jody Hovland, Tim Buss, Frankie Rose, Carrie Houchins-Witt. If you haven’t noticed by now then you will by the next post that I am quite a fan of the plays of Mr. David Lindsay-Abaire. This was a joy to work on, and I got to play one of my dream roles (Aunt Debra). I won’t say I crossed it off my list, though, because I would be over the moon with joy to play any of the roles on my list again. Crossed schmossed, nothing’s getting crossed.
5) Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire. Iowa Summer Repertory, 2008.
Directed by Mary Beth Easley, with Rebekah Stein, Rachael Lindhart, Anthony Nelson, Rollin Perry. This play tested me more than anything I had ever attempted to do onstage before, ever. Thank you, David Lindsay-Abaire for writing roles like these, and may God bless you forever and ever Mary Beth Easley for letting me do this role, for believing that I could be more than the comic relief, and for creating an environment in the rehearsal room that supports and encourages really deep explorations and lots and lots of risks.
Check back next week for more TOP FIVES! In the meantime check out these previous TOP FIVES!
Kristy Hartsgrove Mooers was last seen as Aunt Marie in Working Group Theatre’s production Al Recipes Are Home, and before that as Aunt Debra in Kimberly Akimbo with Riverside Theatre. She has appeared regionally at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival (Adriana in Comedy of Errors and Maria in Twelfth Night), and in the title role of Yerma with the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble in Chicago. She spent seven summers with the Iowa Summer Repertory, and is an artistic associate of Working Group Theatre. She teaches at Coe College and the University of Iowa, and holds an M.F.A. from Illinois State University.