"Call Me Adam" chats with actress Joan Shepard about her show Confessions of Old Lady #2, chronicling her 74 year career on Broadway and Television that is part of the 2014 International Fringe Festival Encores Series at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street) on September 18 and 28. Click here for tickets!
1. Your show, Confessions of Old Lady #2, about your 74 year career on Broadway & television, just finished its initial run in the 2014 NYC Fringe International Theatre Festival and is now being presented in their Encore Series. What excites you about having your show in the Fringe Encore series? Excited & pleased to have been chosen.
2. What made now the right time to present Confessions of Old Lady #2? The last 2 summers I took the show to the Edinburgh Fringe. I loved it and would have gone back this year. But my daughter, the esteemed director Jenn Thompson, persuaded me to shoot for NYC Fringe as a higher target.
3. How do you feel the Fringe Festival helps foster this show in a way another festival might not? Plainly the attention given to Fringe NYC is extraordinary. I got 4 reviews. The other Festival I applied to, offered a single performance as opposed to 5.
5. Since this show is about tales from your career, is there a story that did not make it into the show that you can share with us? In the show I tell about playing a 5 line part in The Member of the Wedding on Broadway. I don't want to distract from the impact of quoting Miss Ethel Waters & telling how "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" got into the show, so I don't tell how (11 years after Bway) Miss Waters chose me to play the leading role of "Frankie Addams" on the West Coast, opposite her. One of my proudest possessions is a program cover showing me on her lap as we sing the famous hymn.
6. What was it like to go back through your whole life and career to put this show together? Were there moments when it was all too much for you? It was exhilarating rather than upsetting.
7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was totally hooked by my first show Romeo & Juliet, starring Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh. I never considered any other profession from, that day to this.
8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I would love to work with Liza Minnelli. She's in my show, but we never shared a stage at the same time.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Don't ever let yourself be bitter." (too many character ladies have made this mistake).
10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That being scared is okay. I am still terrified before each performance, particularly of CONFESSIONS, and I know it's part of the deal.
11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? No question: the power to fly.
12. If you could be an original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Mint.
13. How do you want to be remembered? As someone who brought delight.
Joan Shepard has enjoyed 74 years as a working actress, beginning with being cast as an extra in Laurence Olivier's Broadway production of Romeo & Juliet in 1940. Since then she has racked up 8 more Broadway plays, including The Member of the Wedding with Ethel Waters and Foolish Notion in which she played Tallulah Bankhead's daughter. As a child, she was one of radio's Quiz Kids, as a grown up she has had a distinguished career on stage and on television. Most recently she has appeared regionally at such theatres as the Human Race, New Harmony, the Pasadena Playhouse and the Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut. At the latter, she served also as Managing Director and was, along with her husband, Evan Thompson, directly responsible for saving that historic theatre from the wrecking ball. At Ivoryton she received a record number, seventeen of Pictorial Gazette Awards for her performances, and on television she was a memorable shoplifter on ABC's What Would You Do? as well as appearing on the HBO series Girls. In 2012 & 2013 she took her one-woman show CONFESSIONS OF OLD LADY #2 to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she was critically hailed as "a musical powerhouse" remotegoat.com, "a must see for any aspiring performer" StageWon, "Marvellous" (Whats'On), "a wonderful raconteur" Carrie Gooch SGfringe; "fabulous but not fading" (Scotsgay), 4 stars, "a gleeful account" (Libby Purves, the London Times). NYC's Cabaret Scenes described her show as "fascinating and fun" and called her "an eternal sprite whose company is a true pleasure".