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Williamstown Theatre Festival

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

INTERVIEW | Actress Katie Finneran

Kimberly Faith Hickman [Assistant Director CHILDREN] recently sat down with Tony Award-winning actress Katie Finneran [actress in CHILDREN and THE TORCH-BEARERS and WTF Alum].

Kimberly Faith Hickman : So this is your third or fourth show?

Katie Finneran : My third show.

KFH : And have they all been co-productions with someone?

KF : Yes! The first one was with Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor with Sybil Christopher—that was HEDDA GABLER—and the second was BEYOND THERAPY which we then took to Bay Street.

KFH : And that’s when you met your man?

KF : That’s when I met my man! Darren Goldstein! Yeah, I saw him on the first day in the rehearsal room. He was there. And I went “All right…there you are…”

KFH : (laughs) And CHILDREN came from Westport?

KF : Yes.

KFH : So how has Williamstown, being here for as many shows as you have, how has your relationship with Williamstown, extend into your work outside of Williamstown?

KF :I mean, it’s really a fantastic haven with such a good spirit to it, and they get a lot of great, great actors and great people. And because of the intimacy of the space, like the uh, living together… I remember, the first time I lived with Richard Easton and Michael Gross. Michael Gross would come out in his towel brushing his teeth, and Richard and I would have breakfast. So for a long time, I used to tell everyone that Richard and I lived together for a summer. Let that rumor fly for a while.

KFH : (laughs) Right…

KF : But, yeah, because of that sort of intimacy, you never forget it. I mean, it’s such a different feeling than having your own life in the city—coming to work, going to the theatre, and going home. Williamstown is very much like camp. So… you take those relationships, and you go on, you know, and carry them with you.

KFH : Now, how long have you known Nicky? Is he the person with Williamstown that you’ve known the longest?

KF : I would say, yeah. Maybe fourteen, fifteen years?

KFH : Oh, wow.

KF : Maybe longer than that, because I’ve been in the city for about eighteen years, and I knew him pretty soon there, after…

KFH : How were you approached about being in CHILDREN?

KF : You know, I think Joey Tillinger and I sort of know the same people, and we’ve met, and I may have auditioned for him at one point, and I can’t remember what it was for, but I may have. He’s seen plays I’ve done, and I’ve seen a lot of his shows. And he’s just one guy I hadn’t worked with, so that was really appealing to me. And he offered it to me, which was really lovely. And of course, when someone asks you to dance, it always good to…

KFH : Say “yes!”

KF : Yes! Always! It’s always good to say “yes.” You want to say “yes.”

KFH : It’d be foolish not to… (laughs)

KF : (laughs) Yeah, yeah!

KFH : And you’re getting to work with Judith Light, which is very cool.

KF : (singing) Love her!!! Oh my gosh. We’re becoming friends and hanging out. She’s the loveliest person ever.

KFH : She’s like… the fairy god-mother of everybody.

KF : Oh my god, she is! I have a new catch phrase… It’s like, “Oh, I’m just gonna Judith Light it.” Meaning be easy about it. Just take it easy. Be positive. It will all work out.

KFH : That’s right…

KF : “Just Light it! Judith Light it…”

KFH : (laughs) And now you can “Light” our stage here…Well, do you have anything you would like to add into this?

KF : Apprentices, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

KFH : Yes! That’s good advice.

KF : People who are in the shows… we’re all here to work together. You might be a little shy because we’re loud and… and flirty… and you might recognize us from the shows, but I mean, we’re all here to learn. You know, if you see one of us, ask us any questions that you want… I mean, certainly me. But I know, all of the actors are pretty generous that way, so if you have a question, don’t be afraid to come up and say hello and ask. Cause really, it’s an extraordinary business to be in. It’s kind of daunting and it’s hard at times, but if you really love it, I say everybody should follow a path to the theatre.

KFH : Looking back over the course of your career, besides asking questions, do you have any advice… Do you have advice that was given to you that you would pass on?

KF : I would say, you always know. It’s like… You can ask practical questions. But in terms of what you want to do, you know, gather information, find out every single thing that you can about what you want to do, whether it’s direct or write or act or whatever. And just try to stay excited about it. Because you’ll get rejected more often than you’ll get success. Try to stay excited about it and maintain the joy, the fun. Then just follow your own path, because every single person has a different path in this business. That’s what’s so extraordinary about it. There’s no one way…

KFH : …to do it?

KF - …to be a star on Broadway. There’s not. There’s not one single way. People who work at Goldman Sachs can be an investment banker, and you can pretty much follow the numbers to be higher up, a vice president or whatever. But in our business… it’s so creative and different and bizarre that’s there’s no one way. So always follow your own path and you’ll always know the answer.

[photo] Sam Hough for © WTF ’09 [pictured] Katie Finneran in CHILDREN, Dir. John Tillinger

© [Scenic Design | James Noon, Costume Design | Jane Greenwood, Lighting Design | RuiRita] 2009

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