Alyssa Jones loves to sing, but she won’t be limiting herself to the musical theater anytime soon.
“At Hudson Falls [High School], you weren’t allowed to do the spring musical if you didn’t also audition for the fall play,” said Jones, who is starring as Maggie in Tennessee Williams’ classic story, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” opening Friday at Home Made Theater in Saratoga Springs.
“I think if you’re going to do musical theater, you need that experience of doing a straight play. It’s like dancing. Whatever you do, having the technique of ballet in your background really helps in other forms. So I love doing both.”
‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’
WHERE: Home Made Theater, Spa Little Theater, Saratoga State Park
WHEN: Opens Friday and runs through Feb. 28; show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $27-$24
MORE INFO: 587-4427, www.homemadetheater.org
A 2013 graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, Jones grew up performing in the Glens Falls and Lake George area at various venues, and was part of Home Made Theater’s production of “A Chorus Line” earlier this season. She credits her parents for sparking an interest in musical theater. Her two favorite shows were made long before she was born.
“I’ve always been singing for as long as I can remember,” she said. “My parents tell the story of me being a little girl, and singing along with Jimmy Cagney in ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy.’ I sang ‘Yankee Doodle’ at a restaurant in Maine, and the waitress was amazed I even knew the movie. But I loved it, and I also watched ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ quite a bit.”
While she works as a tutor in the Hudson Falls school district, Jones doesn’t shy away from talking about her aspirations.
“I want to go back to New York City, pound the pavement, and work professionally in the theater,” she said. “Money is tight, and that’s why I’m working at Hudson Falls, and I also work at a pizza place in Lake George on the weekends. I’m saving up as much money as I can so I can go to New York.”
Along with trying to save money, she’s working hard at performing.
“I’m working at my craft, in any manner or form, doing anything I can to become better,” she said. ”I’ve also done some work with the Saratoga Children’s Theater and they’ve asked me to direct a show later this year. I’m very busy, but I’m enjoying it all.”
Joining Jones in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” are Ian M. Politis as Brick, Joe Phillips as Big Daddy and Winnie Bowen as Big Mama. Jonathan Hefter is directing. The story is set in the South in the 1950s and centered on a family being torn apart for a variety of reasons as the patriarchal figure, Big Daddy, is facing death.
Inspired by character
“When I saw what they were doing, I thought, ‘I’ll read this,’ and five pages in I knew I wanted to do it,” said Jones. “I knew I wanted to play Maggie. She has that spunky vitality I love. So I auditioned and fortunately Jonathan saw that in me and cast me. I’m very excited about this opportunity.”
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” was originally produced on Broadway in 1955 and starred Ben Gazzara, Burl Ives and Barbara Bel Geddes. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama that year, the play was nominated for four Tonys, and was turned into a Hollywood movie in 1958 with Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. Ives also reprised his role as Big Daddy in the movie, which earned six Oscar nominations but didn’t claim a win.
“I’ve only seen snippets, and I try not to watch the whole thing,” said Jones. “I don’t want to take anything from someone else’s portrayal. I don’t want to try to copy anyone’s performance. But I am aware of the movie, and I did watch just a little bit to get an idea of her [Taylor] take on the character.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]
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