This week's Take Ten finds Erin Weaver - recipient of five Helen Hayes Awards - playing the title role in A Lump of Coal for Christmas at Adventure Theatre MTC, running through December 31. With the theatre in her blood, Weaver shares her love for young audiences and the dream roles that she longs to play.
1) What was the first show you ever saw, and what impact did it have?
I truly cannot remember what the first show I saw was. I grew up in a theater family, so I was watching plays and musicals from a very young age. The first show that had the most intense impact on me was Les Miserables when I was nine years old. I auditioned for the 1st National Tour and after my call back in NYC, Richard J. Alexander invited the kids who auditioned and their families to stay and see the show on Broadway that night.
It was my first Broadway show and I starting crying when I saw young Cosette come out and sing. I was overwhelmed by the whole experience. I couldn’t believe THAT was the show I just auditioned for. I became terrified and extremely hopeful that I would get the role. In the end, I was one of the girls chosen to play young Cosette and young Eponine for four months in Philadelphia. I trained for the roles here at the National Theater. Les Miz has had a huge impact on my whole family. It was such an exhausting and exciting time for all of us and the story also held a lot of meaning for me as well.
2) What was your first involvement in a theatrical production?
I played a baby bee in a children's theater production of Winnie The Poo :)
3) What’s your favorite play or musical, and why do you like it so much?
Someone just asked me this the other day and the first play that came to mind was Our Town. I just think it is an incredibly small and epic play that covers so much that matters to me about family and trying to appreciate life. I also love how theatrical it is. It is a true play. My two favorite musicals are Sunday In The Park With George and Violet. The story of these two plays moves me and hits close to home for me in a variety of ways and the music is just brilliant.
4) What’s the worst day job you ever took?
I briefly worked at a bagel store while in college. I had to be up at five in the morning and work before class. It was a disaster. I could barely stay awake or show up on time and to make matters worse, my best friend’s parents owned the place and worked there and I let them down quite often. Fortunately every job I had before and after has been truly wonderful and lots of fun. As long as I don’t have to get up at 5 am, I’m game for almost anything. Lesson learned on that one.
5) What is your most embarrassing moment in the theatre?
Geeeezzzz, I have too many to choose from… Probably blanking on my lyrics briefly during Ordinary Days at Roundhouse Theater. It was only a two second moment but that’s all it takes to go completely off the tracks. The wonderful Sam Edgerly, who played opposite me, just looked at me with slightly panicked but encouraging eyes and somehow I managed to get back on track without it being a HUGE mess up. Some people after the show just thought my mic went out for a second because, apparently, while I blanked on the lyrics no sound came out but I kept moving my lips.
Another time I was playing Robin in a production of Robin Hood and I had a bad cold. At one point in the show I had this really intense staff fight and during the fight I whip around the other character really fast and when I did that, snot came flying out of my nose and a little boy in the front row went, “EEEEWWWW!!” Embarrassing.
6) What are you enjoying most about working on A Lump of Coal for Christmas?
The audience! The audience! The audience!!! I love working with this cast and crew too! They are tons of fun, but those little kids in the audience cheering the Lump of Coal on just slays me. I actually told my friend Judith Ingber (who plays the Director, Chef, and Art Gallery Dealer) this morning after the show that I got choked up today at the end hearing all the kids sing jingle bells at the top of their lungs.
It. Is. The. BEST.
They are filled with so much joy and no inhibitions. Also, I am so grateful for all of the parents and teachers and various other grown ups who accompany their children for also having a good time. Kids really can’t have a great time unless you are sitting next to them enjoying yourself too. This Adventure Theater audience has been so outstanding!!!
7) Other than your significant other, who’s your dream date (living or dead) and why?
Errr…. Paul Rudd.
8) What is your dream role/job?
I would love to play the title role in Violet and Dot in Sunday In The Park With George and Viola in Twelfth Night.
9) If you could travel back in time, what famous production or performance would you choose to see?
The first production of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. But more than that, I would love to see my great grandparents, who were a very successful comedic vaudeville duo, perform. That would be amazing!!!!!!
10) What advice would you give to an 8 year-old smitten by theatre / for a graduating MFA student?
Something that I feel I have to do every time I am in a show, starting with Les Miserables when I was nine and every single show I’ve been in since, is overcome my fears. This can be a scary job that requires a lot of bravery. Auditions, first days of rehearsal, first design run, first preview, opening night… Over and over again I have to put myself out there, make bold choices and ignore any inhibitions I have - and I have a ton! Whenever I see a picture, journal or card with that saying: “Do something that scares you everyday” I always look at it, smile, and think to myself, “I do, thank you.”
This profession requires a lot of bravery. Be brave. Jump. It’s worth it.
ERIN WEAVER's recent Washington area credits include Phoebe in The Nutcracker, Deb in Ordinary Days (Helen Hayes Award), Meg in A Wrinkle in Time and Mary in A Murder, A Mystery and A Marriage at Round House Theater Co.; Kattrin in Mother Courage and Her Children starring Kathleen Turner (Helen Hayes Award) at Arena Stage; Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Helen Hayes nomination), Luciana in The Comedy of Errors, and Thomasina in Arcadia (Helen Hayes Award) all at the Folger Theater; Amy in Company (Helen Hayes Award), Cathy in Last Five Years (Helen Hayes nomination) and Kira in Xanadu (Helen Hayes nomination) all at Signature Theatre. Next up: Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Folger Theater. Erin lives in MD with her husband, playwright/director Aaron Posner and their awesome 4 year old pumpkin, Maisie Ann Posner.