Theater is alive and well, especially in Cape Cod this summer. Actress Margaret Reed is part of the talented ensemble cast bringing Christopher Durang’s Tony-winning comedy, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” to small theaters around the country, including The Cape Playhouse.
Margaret has been racking up performance awards and nods for her work on both on-stage and screen for years. Audiences will remember her as ‘Shannon O’Hara McKechnie’ on the daytime soap opera, “As the World Turns,” and as the tenacious Defense lawyer ‘Felicia Chatham’ on “Law and Order: SVU.”
Margaret Reed reveals more about her time as ‘Masha’ and the Cape in this recent interview.
Give us an overview of your role in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”
MARGARET: Oh, Masha, dear Masha, riddled with insecurities in a profession obsessed with youth. She’s been a wildly successful actress in a franchise of “Sexy Killer” movies, but her deepest regret is that she’s not known as a “great, tragic classical actress on the stage.” Because movies aren’t paying her as much as they used to, she brings home news, along with her young lover, Spike, that could potentially devastate the lives of her brother and sister.
What specifically attracted you to playing ‘Masha’?
MARGARET: Her vulnerability masked by this over-the-top and blunt way of expressing herself. And she’s funny, without knowing it. She’s an actress and it’s always fun to play someone who has the same profession, to see where she starts and I end, blending the two of us into a believable and relatable character. The challenge with this character is to balance her ways of expressing herself with her underlying insecurities and need to find her way in her changing life.
What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
MARGARET: “Always hope,” is a line from the play. There are so many themes in the play that audiences can relate to – family issues of belonging, missed opportunities and how to reconcile them, fading lives and reflecting on the course of one’s life, finding ways to continue to live even though life has happened in unexpected ways, roots with family are the ground from which one can find solace and support.
Since this is the third city you’ve opened in – have you noticed any difference in how it resonates with audiences?
MARGARET: What’s really cool about the Cape Playhouse audiences is that they are totally with it and engaged with the play from the very beginning. As I’m preparing to go onstage, it’s such a treat for me to get to listen to the first moments of the play with the wonderful John Scherer, Toni DiBuono, and Danielle Lee Greaves provoking insights and laughs from the audience before I come on (with the awesome Gregory Isaac Stone).
What do you think you’ve learned, if anything, from ‘Masha’?
MARGARET: Great question! (as are all of these!) I have written about the entire journey of Masha from the days before my audition until now in a blog on my website and Facebook. It has been a challenging and very rewarding time discovering how to embrace and project a character that is not sympathetically written. But, once I found the hook, with my director’s and fellow actors’ supportive ideas, it all clicked. And I’m having the time of my life playing her. Masha is so dear to me. Her vulnerability stems from the fact that her biggest success in her life was not the success that she had envisioned for herself. She’s wondering how to reconcile her place in the world and how to find peace with where she is. Which is a universal theme in most people’s lives, I’d imagine. What I’ve learned from playing her is to see challenges as ways to better oneself and to not give up. The future is an open book of possibilities, full of family support (which I am so fortunate to have) and hope for the best life possible.
You’ve worked on such a variety of projects; do you prefer comedy over drama? And, how about stage over film and TV?
MARGARET: The connecting thread between all genres of acting is that acting is acting in any genres. It is based on listening, discovering, and being in the moment. To prepare for any role, one needs to use whatever technique one has acquired from their experiences in school, in life, and in other roles. I’ve always had an affinity for comedy, probably because my childhood was not filled with a lot of laughter, so, I do love the tragic roles, as well. Television is my dream medium, though. I’ve done quite a bit of it and have a vision of being a series regular on a national TV show again in the near future. The roles for women in television are complex, varied, and full of passion and drive. I identify with all those adjectives and look forward to stretching my acting muscles in a juicy role in a medium I adore. Not that I don’t adore theatre. It has been my creative life-blood since I was in high school. And I am so grateful for all that I’ve garnered from it in terms of my acting technique, presence, articulation, vocal projection, etc. The discipline of these gifts is invaluable to me and carries through into all aspects of my life.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
MARGARET: How very grateful I am for their support of the Cape Playhouse, and theatre in general. It takes a generosity of spirit to venture out to the theatre instead of staying at home where entertainment is so readily accessible through our electronic devices these days. Brava/o to all who share that passion of live theatre where the bond between actor and audience is deeply created, and then fleeting, except in our memories. Since this the third venue in which this troupe has performed our dear Christopher Durang play, we have, together with the wonderfully receptive audiences here on the Cape, caused a tighter, deeper, and more confident production – our best yet! Thank you so much for being a part of this amazing journey with us!
Thanks, Margaret — and please, keep stretching your acting muscles!
Find out more about Margaret Reed at: www.TheMargaretReed.com