Conference Call: Cast of "Enter Laughing" at York Theatre: Alison Fraser, Farah Alvin, Chris Dwan, and Allie Trimm
A few weeks ago I got to see the hilarious musical revival of Enter Laughing at the York Theatre. This show is so much fun. The writing, the music, and of course, the very talented cast! Their chemistry together is fantastic!
Two days after seeing this show, I was invited to Enter Laughing’s opening night party to conduct interviews with some of the cast. Featured below are two-time Tony nominee Alison Fraser, It Should Have Been You’s Farah Alvin, Finding Neverland’s Chris Dwan, and Bye Bye Birdie’s Allie Trimm.
Enter Laughing, is based on Carl Reiner’s semi-autobiographical novel and Joseph Stein’s stage adaptation, this hilariously tuneful musical careens through the misadventures of star-struck, stage-struck, woman-struck teenager David Kolowitz, who pratfalls his way into manhood via the theatre in 1930s New York City. This show is “for anyone who has ever had a dream of stardom, an overbearing mother, a song in their heart, or just needs a heartfelt, side-splitting laughfest.”
Enter Laughing plays at the York Theatre (619 Lexington Avenue, corner of 54th Street & Lexington Avenue) through the recently extended date of June 23. Click here for tickets!
1. What made you want to be part of Enter Laughing? I love the York Theatre. I think their mission is wonderful, to bring back older musicals, in a small way, and present them to a really wonderful audience they have been nurturing for many, many years.
I also love Stuart Ross, our director. I was actually in the original Plaids [Forever Plaid] when there was a girl. I was Trixie and my late husband, Rusty Magee, was the original Sparky. I go back a long way with Stuart. I was recently at a gala with Stuart and he asked me to do Enter Laughing and I thought it would be fun, so I signed on.
The lyrics and writing are so cleaver. It’s a very comedic role. I try to play the “real” of the comedy. I think my journey in this play is to be a mother that everyone can identify with.
2. You are a mother in real life. What similarities do you see between playing the mother in the show and in your own life? I think having a child is an all encompassing thing, even if they are tall and grown-up, you still think of them as your little boy. You’re fiercely protective, sometimes overly protective. I think I’ve been guilty of some of the same behavior as Mrs. Kolowitz was.
3. In the show, your character wants her son to be a pharmacist. In real life, what did you want your son to be? Thank you for asking about him. I just wanted him to be happy and he is happy. Nat is an editor for a trailer house. He’s been doing it for a few years and just loves it.
Farah Alvin and Chris Dwan:
1. What made you both want to be part of Enter Laughing?
Chris Dwan: Enter Laughing is a super, super, super funny show. There is no way you can say no to a really well written & funny show.
Farah Alvin: I’ll say the thing that sealed the deal for me was when I heard the song I sing in the show, “The Man I Love,” and I laughed out loud. I never ever laugh out loud at a comedy song and I said to myself “I have to sing that song." So, I made it happen.
2. What do you each relate to about your characters?
Chris Dwan: It’s very rare that you get to play an actor being an actor. So, that was fun. Also, I liked the idea of taking myself back to what it was like when I first moved to New York City, when I needed to start going on auditions and started booking that work. It was fun to revisit that and do everything wrong.
Farah Alvin: It’s true you don’t get to play an actor very often. I get to play an actor also. I don’t want to say Angela takes herself very seriously, but she takes her art very seriously. She takes her feelings very seriously. I’m just always trying to manage my feelings in the world and not constantly be living on a wave of them. I get to just indulge in that, which is delicious and fun.
3. One of my favorite scenes is when you in rehearsal for the show. Do you have any fun outtakes from rehearsal or doing the show you can share?
Farah Alvin: From that particular scene, I will say, spoiler alert, Chris & I have a very, very elaborate and lengthy kiss. It was incredibly well choreographed & rehearsed so much so, that I very often got a beard burn from my delightful leading man. There was also a lot of, “Okay, now he’s on top, now she’s on top, now you both roll over…” It’s very odd, but funny.
Chris Dwan: It was funny to have to have to articulate moves in a long kiss. “Well, I’ll push over, then you make a noise, then I’ll get on top of you, my arm will go up…” It’s just hilarious to act out.
Definitely a lot of outtakes in the show with all that happening. Plus, Farah wears lipstick in the show, obviously, so when we pull away from the kiss, I look like I’ve been eating a dead body.
Farah Alvin: I say he looks like a zombie because he lies down on the chez afterwards and it just looks like Twilight or something like that.
4. I feel like there is definitely some flirtation between Angela & David. So, who have you worked with (Farah gasps and says, “I’m already scandalized by this question) that you definitely wanted to flirt with more than got to on stage?
Farah Alvin: I don’t know that I can appropriately answer this question…Chris cuts in, “I can.”
Chris Dwan: I recently worked with Laura Osnes. She is just so wonderfully perfect. I just wanted to stare into her eyes and tell her how much I adored her.
Farah Alvin: I’d go with Laura Osnes too. It’s true. America’s Ingénue, Laura Osnes. I have never played opposite her, but I’m looking forward to the day that I can.
1. What made you want to audition for Enter Laughing? I thought the book was hysterical, so I read the script and thought some of these scenes with the slapstick humor really got me. Then I found out Chris Dwan was going to be leading this ensemble. I just adore him and knew I wanted to work with him again. He is stellar in this role.
2. You both have great chemistry together. You play Wanda, David’s girlfriend. What do you relate most to about her? The more that I work through this script and massage into the character, I see she has so much gut. She’s ahead of her time. For 1938, she has so much spice and so much awareness of how a man should/should not be treating his woman. She has high expectations of what devotion & affection means.
That’s been really fun to balance with the tenderness of their young love mixed with the spice of no, no, no, that’s’ not going to fly. I really enjoy figuring out that line and playing with pushing the boundaries of how much, I feel as a woman in today’s world, can I put into this 1938 piece of work.
3. There’s a scene where Wanda walks in on David and Angela rehearsing. Have you ever walked in on a boyfriend of yours working/rehearsing a little too closely with his castmate? No! And thank goodness for that. I know how it goes…how rehearsals are rehearsals, but also know when that scene is a little fishy.
Luckily, I’ve never dated an actor, so I probably won’t walk into a situation like that.
More on Alison:
Alison Fraser is a two-time Tony Award nominee for playing Martha inThe Secret Garden and Josefine/Monica in Romance/Romance. Other Broadway roles include Dorine inTartuffe, Helena in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Tessie Tura in Gypsy starring Patti LuPone. She won the 2018 Callaway Award for Best Actress in a Classical Play for playing Lady Utterword in Heartbreak House.
Off-Broadway she originated the roles of Sharon in Aaron Mark’s monologue play Squeamish and Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford in Michael John LaChiusa’s First Daughter Suite, and received multiple award nominations for both. Off-Broadway roles Alison has created include Trina in William Finn’s March of the Falsettos and In Trousers (for which she also did vocal arrangements), Sister Walburga inThe Divine Sister, Arsinoé in David Ives’s The School for Lies, and Miss Drumgoole in Todd Rundgren’s Up Against It. She has performed at The George Street Playhouse many times, including opposite Shirley Knight in Arthur Laurents’ last play, Come Back , Come Back, Wherever You Are. Recent film and TV credits include Happy!, Gotham, Happy-ish, High Maintenance, and the upcoming The Sound of Silence opposite Austin Pendleton and Peter Sarsgaard.
More on Farah:
Broadway: It Shoulda Been You, Nine, The Look of Love, Saturday Night Fever, Grease!, A Christmas Carol. Off-Broadway: Window Treatment, Goldstein, The Last Smoker in America (cast album), The Marvelous Wonderettes (Drama Desk Nomination, cast album), I Love You Because (cast album), and more. Lots of regional including Paper Mill Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, Signature Theatre (Helen Hayes Award for The Sycamore Trees), Cape Playhouse, Geva Theatre, and Alabama Shakespeare. Lots of other things. Please find Farah under her name on social media for more.
More on Chris:
New York: Finding Neverland (OBC), Scarlet Pimpernel (Lincoln Center), The Old Boy (Keen Company). Select regional credits include: Last Days of Summer (KC Rep), The Rivals (BRT), Big Fish (Theatre Raleigh), How to Succeed... (TUTS). TV: Royal Pains (USA), One Bad Choice (MTV). Chris stars in the hit web series The Queens Project, is a founding member of the singing group RANGE a cappella, and is one half of the band Stereo Dawn. @blackdwan
More on Allie:
Broadway: Originated role of Patrice in 13: The Musical; Kim MacAfee Bye Bye Birdie. Off-Broadway: The Evolution of Mann (the cell) Regional: Daisy Buchanan in BAZ (Palazzo Las Vegas); Parade (Lincoln Center); Allegiance (The Old Globe); Home Street Home (O’Neill); Violet in immersive A.R.T. production of Violet. TV/Film: “30 Rock,” “Private Practice,” Saints Rest, Disney’s Prom. Stanford University.