This is our penultimate TOP FIVE. Tomorrow we’ll post our final one (for now anyway). Today’s TOP FIVE comes from veteran TCR performer, Marty Norton. It’s a great read and perhaps the most eye opening part is her description of director Jason Alberty’s method for Midsummer. Check it out!
How in the world to choose a Top Five? By character? By shows? I’ve been very fortunate to play in 50 some. By director? I’ve worked with Richard Barker, Jason Alberty, Leslie Charipar, Jim Kern, and Angie Toomsen, to name five. Oh, this be hard. I finally decided that it has to come down to the whole experience…so here goes, my Top Five.
5) The Diary of Anne Frank. Theater Cedar Rapids. Directed by Richard Barker
The Diary of Anne Frank was my first serious role and I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to do it. A great big thank you goes to Richard Barker for casting me and trusting me with the role of Edith Frank. The cast was fantastic and totally committed to telling Anne’s story. The set and lighting were breathtaking. The lobby of theater had the traveling exhibit of The Anne Frank Story panels presented in chronological order, allowing the patrons to see the developments in Nazi Germany with the life of the Frank family. It was an eerie, somber entrance into the theater. In addition, the week we opened, TCR held a panel discussion whose members included: a survivor of the Kindertransport, an American soldier who had been a POW in Germany, an American soldier who helped to liberate the death camps, a young German foreign exchange student, a Cedar Rapids curriculum facilitator, and a survivor of Kristallnacht. It was horrible and educational, inspiring and tragic; and our cast carried what we heard onto the stage with us every night. I will never forget it.
4) Dearly Departed by David Botreel & Jessie Jones. Theater Cedar Rapids. Directed by Richard Barker.
Sometimes a show comes to you just when you need it. In Dearly Departed I played Raynelle Turpin who basically talks her husband to death at the top of the show, and he dies face down in a stack of pancakes. We had a “guest husband” die for each show. Watching them face plant was a hoot. (I’m talking to you, Chuck Peters.) This play was ridiculous, in the very best sense of the word. I mean really! Jason Alberty played my daughter, Delightful! Doing stupid stuff on stage with your very closest friends and howling with laughter… it was the best.
3) A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. Classics at Brucemore. Directed by Jason Alberty.
I love being at “Camp Brucemore,” but what made this production stand out for me, besides getting to play the Wall, was how Jason approached our first rehearsal. Jason requested that we not read, or reread, the script and he gave each actor their sides. We had our lines with the cue line before, and that was it…we didn’t know who was on stage with us, or what was happening. We came to first rehearsal with our sides memorized and ran the show. It forced us to listen and simply react. It was terrifying and exhilarating, and we did it!
2) The Summerland Project by Rob Merritt. Theatre Cedar Rapids. Directed by Leslie Charipar.
What a gift. A beautifully committed cast and crew came together to tell this great original story by our own Rob Merritt. I loved my character, Dr. Ellen Beckett, and the challenge of playing her. We had interesting and thought provoking discussions and having Rob at rehearsal to field questions was the icing on our cake. I am so happy that Rob Merritt’s The Summerland Project has been made into a movie starring Angela Billman! I worked with famous people!!!!
1) August: Osage County by Tracy Letts. Urban Theater Project of Iowa. Directed by Angie Toomsen.
I like all the plays I have been in for different reasons, but I love A:OC for every reason: performed at Legion Arts/CSPS with nearly all of my dearest friends, a truly incredible script, and directed by Angie Toomsen. I played Mattie Fay Acken in this dark, dark, comedy. She’s a woman who viciously belittles her family, while living with an incredible secret. The beauty of our cast was we have been friends for a long time and we all knew and trusted each other, so we felt very secure in really pushing ourselves and each other to the edge. It was hard. It was amazing.
There. My Five. Thanks for reading!
Check back tomorrow for the final TOP FIVE. And check out the previous TOP FIVES here:
Kristy Hartsgrove Mooers
Jeffrey Allen Mead
Braden JP Rood
Cherryl Moon Thomason
For the past 21 years, Marty has had a blast performing at TCR, Classics at Brucemore and Brucemore Children’s Theater, Urban Theater Project of Iowa, SPT (The Writer’s Room series), The Giving Tree Theater, and Iowa Theater Artists Company. Marty came to acting later then some (a child of 39 she was, and she says you needn’t do the math) and was inspired to actually audition – and not just check out scripts, by two things. The first, seeing Cherryl Moon Thomason and Leslie Charipar in Nunsense; they looked like they were having so much fun. And the second, Marty’s father auditioning and getting his first role at the very spry age of 78. Marty finally auditioned, Richard Barker cast her, and he forever changed her life.