Call Redialed: Barbara Walsh: "Bonnie's Last Flight", "Falsettos" & "Company"
It’s been eight years since my last interview with Tony nominee Barbara Walsh. I’m beyond thrilled she answered my call again! A lot has changed for Barbara over the past eight years and we get to the heart of it all!
Barbara is about to open the Off-Broadway play Bonnie’s Last Flight by Eliza Bent, a three-part play set on an airplane. It finds the audience taking this theatrical trip as passengers: sitting on a tarmac before take-off, floating at cruising altitude, and buckling down for the wild and rocky descent back to land. Audiences are limited to one carry-on item.
In Bonnie’s Last Flight, shortly after liftoff, we learn that it’s “Jan’s” final retirement flight. Everyone on board knows, except for “Greig,” “Jan’s” best friend and trusted co-worker of decades. As “Greig” waxes nostalgic, “Jan” worries about life post-retirement. “LeeAnne,” a klutzy newbie flight attendant with a dark past, must avoid her ex who’s also on board. The captain, a waggish pilot with a weakness for unlimited Bloody Mary brunches, is caught in a love triangle, and “Erik,” the co-pilot with a heart of gold, can’t get a word in edgewise.
Bonnie’s Last Flight will play at The Fourth Street Theatre (83 East 4th Street) from February 8-March 2. Click here for tickets!
For more on Barbara visit http://www.barbarawalsh.biz
1. The last time we spoke was in 2011 when you were starring in the Off-Broadway play Reading Under the Influence. So, it's great to be able to catch up now! What do you feel has been the biggest change for you in these past eight years? Well I’d have to say, a breast cancer diagnosis in 2012. All is good, and I’m extremely lucky and healthy! In addition to that, many things come with being an aging woman! Though some are clichés, and some are welcome, some not, they’re ALL true!
I’ve been really fortunate to have played some amazing roles: “Maria Callas,” “Edie Beal,” “Sonia” in Vanya Sonia... Spike, “Mrs. Winemiller” in Summer and Smoke, and more. I treasure all those experiences, and the treasures get bigger in life to me, as time moves on, particularly (great roles aside) the simple ordinary things.
2. You are about to star in the Off-Broadway show Bonnie's Last Flight. What made you want to be part of this show? The utterly imaginative, and wildness of the story, and “Jan’s” massive arc, completely captured me! It’s challenging on so many levels, and I adore collaborating with these wonderful artists.
3. What do you think audiences should know about this show before arriving? Audiences should know they’re in for a ride!
4. What do you relate to most about your character of "Jan"? I think the pursuit of quenching the artistic soul, is what I most have in common with “Jan.”
5. What is one characteristic about "Jan" that you are glad you yourself do not possess? She loves turbulence, I HATE it!
6. With "Jan" getting ready for retirement, has preparing for this show, made you to think about your own retirement? If so, what are some things you want to do when you retire? “Jan” is retiring from something she HAD to do, so that she can quench what she wants to do. I chose this profession because I wanted to do it, ups and downs, and I have no intention of retiring.
7. These next few questions are going along with the press release that states "Bonnie’s Last Flight is a three-part play set on an airplane. It finds the audience taking this theatrical trip as passengers: sitting on a tarmac before take-off, floating at cruising altitude, and buckling down for the wild and rocky descent back to land.”
Sitting on the tarmac: What do you think about while waiting for the curtain to rise at the top of a show? Waiting in the wings, I focus. Unless it’s a really long run, in which case, I might wonder what to have for dinner!
Floating at cruising altitude: When have you felt like you were cruising in your career? I’ve never felt I was cruising in my career. I’m always looking for work! It’s what we do.
Buckling down for the wild & rocky decent back to land: What is one story from your life you can share with us that has been wild & rocky? I’m sure there are more examples, but the BC diagnosis was definitely wild and rocky.
8. With Falsettos going out on a National Tour and Company breaking records in London, what memories of being in these shows come up for you when reading about these new productions? Well I saw the Opening of most recent revival of Falsettos, and it brought back so many memories. I think the audience’s response to that show, sticks out most to me. It’s such a profoundly moving piece of theatre.
Regarding Company, I loved playing an angry drunk! “Joanne’s” a complex and wonderful role. Had the time of my life!
9. Rapid Fire Questions:
Coke or Pepsi? Neither Coke or Pepsi (I’m a club soda gal)
Peanut Butter: Crunchy or Smooth? Crunchy PB
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Rainbow Sprinkles or Chocolate Sprinkles? Rainbow sprinkles
More on Barbara:
Broadway: Falsettos (Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League nominations, L.A. Ovation Award), Company (Drama Desk, Drama League nominations), Rock 'n Roll! The First 5,000 Years, Nine, Blood Brothers, Big, Hairspray.
Off-Broadway: Summer and Smoke (CSC and Transport Group), First Daughter Suite (The Public Theatre), Three Days to See (Transport Group), Normal (Transport Group), Forbidden Broadway, Birds of Paradise. National Tours: Oklahoma!, Nine, Les Misérables, Chess (Carbonell Award). Regional: Angels in America (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Master Class (Paper Mill Playhouse), A Little Night Music (Baltimore Center Stage), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (KC Rep and Baltimore Center Stage), Carrie (Studio Theatre - Helen Hayes Award), The New Prince (a premiere Opera for The Dutch National Opera and Ballet).
TV/Film: Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Life with Mikey.