Welcome to a regular, if intermittent feature: Irreverent, lighthearted question & answer sessions with some of South Florida’s best known professionals.
For nearly two decades, Amy London has been a fixture of South Florida theater: behind the director’s table, wearing a stage manager’s headset, acting, leading the Fort Lauderdale Players, hostess at various backyard get-togethers and executive director of the Carbonell Awards.
In this edition of the Green Room we find out how she helped piss off the Ku Klux Klan and what she does in the stage manager’s booth when there’s a call of nature.
Hometown: Cleveland OH
How long have you lived/worked in South Florida? Almost 20 years
What school did you graduate from/what was your major? BA in theater University of Vermont, MFA in Theatre Trinity University
What specials skills do you need to be a stage manager? You need to be able to understand the perspectives of all departments. You need to be able to hear what a director wants, both conceptually and literally, and help facilitate it. You need patience. A sense of humor. Knowledge of how to get things done. You need good time management skills. And more sense of humor. And coffee.
How do you keep your cool when everyone else is losing theirs? Losing it doesn’t solve the problem.
Would you allow your children to go into the business? Too late now. Check out my daughter.
If you could change the Carbonells in any way, what would you do? Ooh gotta take the fifth on this. Except to say, when I took over, it was almost destroyed. I emphasized a sense of community and celebration and I think that is vital.
If you could change the theater community in any way, what would you suggest? I’d see more actors paid a living wage.
What plays changed your life, personally or professionally? The Secret Garden – a great personal and professional success for me. It had a sense of beauty and imagery that made me very proud. And it touched me regarding the sense of loss. The need for love.
What role/play are you dying to do but no one would think of you for? My secret desire is to dance the mega mix finale of Mamma Mia. Never happen.
What show do you wish somebody down here would produce? Goldenboy Of The Blue Ridge, a musical that I just saw in Tennessee and it knocked me out. They say its like nothing you’ve ever seen before, and that is true.
What show will you be happy never to see again unless it gets you a job? Chu Chem.
What do you say when someone you like is in a terrible show or does a poor job? I compliment their hard work.
How do you cope when there are more people on stage than in the audience?
Life is like that. You do your best anyway.
What’s the hardest/easiest part of what you do? Easiest – accepting a new project. It gets me so jazzed. Hardest…letting actors down, who really want the part..and don’t get it.
Do you have any pre-show rituals? I ask the theatre Gods to be with me. Really.
What do you do after a show? Pay the babysitter. Sometimes go out. I love to hang with cast members and crew.
What was the first show you were involved in and what did you do? The Wizard of Oz. I was 5. I said the immortal words of Frank Baum “She’s dead.” I also sang and danced and had many bits as the littlest munchkin.
When did you know this was what you wanted to do and why? When I said “She’s dead”…I loved it. It was such a catalyst in the play!!!!! I knew I wanted more.
What do think has been your best work in the theater to date, and why? Hmmmmm..I loved doing Love’s Fire. It was a total collaboration. I acted, directed, found props, produced it with Irene, promoted it…It was an amazing experience. We all had many jobs. Some of the monologues in it include what I consider my best acting work, and my play in it with (Michael) McKeever was among the most challenging and rewarding pieces I have ever encountered. (The Tony Kushner)
What do you think was your worst, and why didn’t it work? Well, its not a single show or part. My saddest loss was having to close down the Fort Lauderdale Players. It had been a wonderful training ground, an outlet …and it touched a lot of lives. I was sad that it had to end and I felt at least partially responsible for its failure. Much had to do with funding and losing our space, but still, it hurts.
What was your best experience working in theater? Can’t pick just one. Open Season, The Secret Garden, Love’s Fire, Speech & Debate, Captiva….
What was your worst? Patience. something about being a lovesick maiden didn’t work for me.
What one role/show would like to do over or just do again? Hair. I directed it in college, I’d love to direct a professional production.
What was the worst on-stage mishap you dealt with? Well, when I toured as (production stage manager) with Cotton Patch Gospel, in one Southern town we had threats from the KKK, and we were performing in a huge outdoor venue. We went on. I was seriously afraid of snipers. Police everywhere. It was bizarre.
What’s the weirdest/worst non-theater job you ever had? Selling hot dogs with strange toppings. You don’t want to know.
Do you have unexpected special talents and skills? I love to bake….Is that unexpected? I also love my computer and especially Powerpoint and working with images.
What would you do if you couldn’t be in theater? I’d work in an administrative job in the theatre if possible. Or I’d teach kids.
What TV programs do you DVR when you’re working a show? Grey’s Anatomy. Parenthood. Newsroom.
Whose music can you not live without? The Eagles.
Why doesn’t South Florida theater have a higher profile nationally? That would require a long discussion. I think our lack of a central location hurts a lot. (for a quick answer)
Finally, add a question you wish I had asked.
Has your time here been meaningful? Yes.
What if you have to pee when you are stuck in the booth? Deal.