Broadway is a blast, but most actors who really love their craft also relish the opportunity to perform on a much smaller scale.
“I happen to love intimate spaces,” said Kate Loprest, who is playing the female lead, Emma Woodhouse, in Gordon Greenberg’s “Single Girls Guide,” which begins with previews on Friday and opens next Tuesday at the Capital Repertory Theatre’s 286-seat venue. “I grew up with theater in the round, so I feel very comfortable on Cap Rep’s thrust stage, with people on three sides of you. It can be easier than when you’re on a large proscenium stage, and you feel like you’re navigating your way around so people can see you.”
‘Single Girls Guide’
WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 North Pearl, Albany
WHEN: Previews tonight through Sunday, opens Tuesday and runs through March 30; performance times are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $60-$20
MORE INFO: 445-7469, www.capitalrep.org
A fan of the ’60s
Loprest and Nick Wyman, her co-star in Greenberg’s musical comedy about single young women in the 1960s, know something about big proscenium stages. Loprest’s Broadway credits include a stint as Amber Von Tussle in “Hairspray,” while Wyman, president of the Actors’ Equity Union, served as John Lithgow’s understudy in 2005-2006 in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”
In “Single Girls Guide,” Loprest plays Woodhouse, a character modeled after Helen Gurley Brown, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years. In 1962 Brown wrote the book, “Sex and the Single Girl,” which was turned into a movie with Natalie Wood in 1964. Woodhouse thinks along those same lines, transforming her column for housewives into a platform for women’s rights and freedoms.
“I think it’s great that this play is set in the ’60s, when a woman’s place was still in the home,” said Loprest. “Watching ‘Mad Men’ and other shows set in the 1950s and 1960s and seeing how popular they are, it was an interesting time. My character has an amazing struggle, being a woman in a man’s world, and trying to break out in that world. It’s a great story.”
For Gazette theater writer Amy Durant's review of this show, click here.
The Capital Rep production is serving as the world premiere for “Single Girls Guide.” Greenberg, a graduate of Stanford University, wrote the book, and Cole Porter Award recipient Tommy Newman supplied the music and lyrics. Michele Lynch is the choreographer.
Identifying with character
“I didn’t know much about the play when I auditioned for it, but I had worked with both the director and the choreographer, so I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of,” said Loprest. “Then I read the script and fell in love with the character.”
Having the playwright also serve as the director wasn’t a completely unique experience for Loprest.
“Sometimes you can have too many cooks in the kitchen, but with Gordon it was great to have him as director and playwright,” she said. “He’s been working on the show for a while now, and it’s great to see the little changes he may make in a few places, just to make the story more fluid and help us with our lines.
“I’ve had a lot of fun working on my character,” she said. “I found she had a lot of heart, and I felt like I understood her struggle. She’s trying to find the best in herself, and she’s also helping other people to see the best in others and help them reach their potential. I happen to be a single girl myself so I get all that. I don’t want to settle for anybody who’s less than perfect.”
Loprest grew up in Deerfield, Ill., just north of Chicago, and went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“I was always playing games and dress-up when I was a kid,” she said. “I would call myself an actor first, but they all — dancing, singing and acting — flowed seamlessly into one another for me. Eventually, the dancing will go, my singing won’t be as good, but I’ll always be an actor.”
Loprest’s first Broadway experience came as an understudy in “The Drowsy Chaperone” in 2006. She then landed parts in “Xanadu” in 2007, “Hairspray” in 2009 and “Wonderland” in 2011.
“I’ve been a part of all the different Broadway processes you could have,” she said. “I was in “Wonderland” at the start when it was out of town and then moved to New York to close just 33 performances later. I was then right in the middle of “Xanadu’s” run and “The Drowsy Chaperone,” and then I was in “Hairspray” right when it was closing. I’ve helped create a show, I’ve helped maintain the integrity of the show, and I’ve been there when it’s closed, and I’m proud of all those experiences.”
Most recently, Loprest had a recurring role in the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” playing a prostitute named Corrine. When she’s done at Capital Rep she’ll head off to Washington D.C., where she’ll play Ellie in a Kennedy Center production of “Show Boat.”
“I’m really excited about Washington and the Kennedy Center,” she said. “It’s two months, a month of rehearsals and then the show. Then, back to New York.”
Wyman, who also had a recurring role in “Boardwalk Empire” as Dr. Landau, has 14 different Broadway credits dating back to “Grease” in the 1970s. He was also “Freddie” in the 1981 production of “My Fair Lady” with Rex Harrison, and also landed parts in “Les Miserables” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” Wyman, a Maine native, has also done plenty of television and film work, including “Diehard With a Vengeance,” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” In “Single Girls Guide,” Wyman plays Henry Woodhouse, Emma’s father.
Also in the cast are Gwen Hollander as Gladys and Robb Sapp as Martin. Zach Dietz is the musical director.