Talkin’ In The Green Room With: Angie Radosh

Welcome to a regular, if intermittent feature: Irreverent, lighthearted question & answer sessions with some of South Florida’s best known professionals.

Angie Radosh is another veteran of South Florida theater who is as admired for her onstage talent and skill as for her offstage graciousness. She is currently ending up her run as the alcoholic sister in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ A Delicate Balance, a few years after playing the more buttoned-down acerbic sister for the Caldwell. She had tackled Albee before in Dramaworks’ stunning Three Tall Women in 2010. A multiple Carbonell nominee, she won the best supporting actress award in 2011 for her imperious mother in Michael McKeever’s Stuff at Caldwell. Some audiences were surprised last January to discover that she has a fine singing voice which she brought to Fraulein Schneider in the Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s Cabaret. She’s played Blanche, Amanda, Golde, Joan Didion and a talking elephant. Next up, the BBC Murders as part of the Fort Lauderdale Broadway series and the Queen in Palm Beach Dramawork’s Exit The King.

In this edition of Green Room, she explains why she panics upon seeing reruns of a particular I Love Lucy episode and she reveals the job you’ll never guess that she wishes she could have if she wasn’t an actress.

Hometown: Born in Cumberland, Maryland….but grew up in Virginia… mostly Arlington.

How long have you lived/worked in South Florida? We moved here from a suburb of Philadelphia in 1996.

What school did you graduate from/what was your major?  BFA in theater from Virginia Commonwealth University…won a scholarship from the National Society of Arts and Letters and used it to study in London with faculty members of the Central School of Drama and Guildhall School of Music and Drama and quite a few years later, got my MA in Theatre as an Acting Scholar at Villanova.

What role/play are you dying to do but no one would think of you for?  I would like to do a timid, nervous, shy role…someone like Birdie in The Little Foxes.

What show do you wish somebody down here would produce?   Oh, there are so many….The Cherry Orchard, Picnic, The Royal Family, Harvey, Mother Courage, Lion In Winter, Ghosts, Death Of A Salesman, anything by Williams. I’m hooked on those classics, but I know that cast size makes many of them impossible to produce.

What show will you be happy never to see again unless it gets you a job? Sunset Boulevard…saw it in New York and even though I’d love to do the Norma Desmond role, I left at intermission and I never do that!

What do you say when someone you like is in a terrible show or does a poor job?  I always try to find a way to say something positive. We walk such a tightrope every time we are on the stage and we usually know if it’s working or not and to have someone waiting on the other side means everything…especially if it’s a peer. Sometimes you have to say what someone needs to hear. After a show has closed, if I am asked, I will be honest, but only if I am asked.

How do you cope when there are more people on stage than in the audience?  That’s happened a number of times to me….and sometimes those are the best shows!  I did a production of The Fourth Wall at Hollywood Boulevard Theatre and one night there were four of us on stage and four people in the audience and it was a wonderful performance!  I would like to think that I give the same committed performance no matter the size of the house. Joe DiMaggio was often asked why he played so hard each game and he answered something like “maybe there’s someone in the stands who has never seen me play before,” so maybe it’s someone’s first time in the theatre..I had that happen after a performance of  Glass Menagerie…it made me so grateful that I had opened that door for someone.

What is there about you that most people don’t know (and that you’ll admit publically)? I’ve had some unusual jobs in the past: singing waitress, magician’s assistant, candy kitchen assembly line (ala the I Love Lucy episode. Every time I see it, I remember the panic of all that candy sailing by!) modeled for a sculpture Gloria Swanson was sculpting, and got to the big pyramid on The $20,000 Pyramid.

How do you approach iconic roles like Blanche in Streetcar to keep them fresh?  I try to treat each role as if it’s never been done before. One of the best classes I ever took was simply called “Script Analysis.” The teacher was formidable, but she made me appreciate the fact that a playwright gives you so much in the words, the specific words he has chosen. I’ve always tried to honor those choices and trust them and letting whatever the playwright has given me take me to where that character lives in me.  I’ve been blessed to have done a number of world premieres and it’s so liberating to know that you are the first one to bring a character to life, so if I treat iconic characters like Blanche in the same way, that in itself is liberating.

Did you let your son play with puppets when he was growing up?  Of course!  I was a captive audience and he never ceased to surprise me. (Editor’s note: Her son is John Tartaglia whose many credits encompass Avenue Q)

We didn’t know you could sing! What singing parts have you done before Cabaret? Which would you like to do?  Two productions of I Do, I Do!  Stop The World, Candide, Golde in Fiddler. I’m blessed to have had the chance to do them…so many I would like to do: Mame, Hannigan in Annie, Dear World, anything by Sondheim.

What’s the hardest/easiest part of what you do?  Hardest: Keeping each performance fresh and clean and honest. Easiest part is when you have a script, and director and a cast that fit….that amazing collaboration that makes the hardest part the joy of the work.
Do you have any pre-show rituals? Driving to the theatre, I listen to On Broadway on Sirius XM and sing whatever’s playing. It always gets me feeling so exhilarated and excited that I get to do what I love to do! Before going onstage, always a prayer…and always one after the final exit.

What do you do after a show? Driving home….no radio. I think about the performance: what did or did not work, and why and what might make it better. At home, a glass of wine.

What was the first show you were involved in and what did you do?  I was a freshman in high school and was cast in Dark Of The Moon…a small role, Edna Summey. I’m sure I was terrible. I had to play a “bad girl” and I’m sure I had no idea what that meant! I was very innocent in those days, and (this goes to your next question: When did you know this was what you wanted to do and why?) …theatre filled something in me. I was so drawn to the camaraderie of it. We had to build a mountain as part of the set and everyone creating this from chicken wire and paper maché and painting sets and then rehearsing and seeing it all come together was just magic for a tall, skinny, shy girl. I was lucky to have a director who was a former Broadway actor, did his best directing when he was drinking and challenged all of us with plays like Death Of A Salesman, Look Homeward,Angel, The Man Who Came To Dinner. How lucky I was to have that door opened to me at that point in my life.

What do you think has been your best work in the theatre to date, and why? Cabaret, because it demanded so much…all of my abilities and training and confidence were put to the test and the reaction each night was so rewarding.

What do you think was your worst, and why didn’t it work? “Miss Margarida’s Way…a difficult script. It just didn’t work. I am still haunted by it.

What was your best experience working in theatre?  Oh, there are so many….evidence of how blessed I am. I can’t choose. Every time I’m on a stage doing what I love to do. That’s the best experience.

What was your worst?  I did a production of Boys From Syracuse in Washington, D.C. many years ago. It was my first professional job in the area… had a small part in the show and understudied all three leading ladies. There was a big number called “Sing for your supper” that had three-part harmony, very intricate.  Each night I went to the theatre, absolutely petrified that I would have to go on and not be able to sing it. One night, one of the ladies was not feeling well and it looked like I might have to go on. She was in one bathroom throwing up and I was in the other one doing the same… convinced if I had to go on, that I would blow it and never work again.  Fortunately, she did go on and I didn’t. It gave me such respect for understudies!

What one role/show would you like to do over or just do again?  Speaking Elephant because so many people missed it and I think it’s a profound piece of writing and Glass Menagerie because it was a good fit.

What was the worst on-stage mishap you dealt with?  During a production of The Sea Gull at VCU, I was wearing a shawl, sitting at a table and there was a candle on the table. I stood up, greeted a character that entered the scene, Dr. Dorn, and we sat down at the table. Suddenly, the actor playing Dr. Dorn started batting at my arm. I looked down and the fringe on my shawl had caught on the flame of the candle. Everything happened pretty fast, but Dr. Dorn managed to put it out. There was lots of smoke, but fortunately, he had put whatever there was out. After a moment, we continued the scene,( with a little more adrenaline than usual). To this day, I am always nervous when there is any kind of open flame onstage.

What’s your day job?  Preparing for my next audition or next play.

What’s the weirdest/worst non-theatre job you ever had? One summer during college, I worked in a blood bank, where people would come in and sell their blood. It was depressing. Many of them were so desperate for money.

Do you have unexpected special talents and skills?  I developed a pretty good scream after doing a summer of outdoor drama and having to scream every night for two months. It also got me my first television job. The audition was an improv and they asked me to scream at the end.

What would you do if you couldn’t be in theatre?  I’d be a major league baseball pitcher. I love the strategy, the composure, the athleticism of the game.

What’s your most unforgettable theatre experience? I saw August Osage County in previews in NYC. I couldn’t move during both intermissions. I was weeping as I left the theatre. It had been a long time since I had been so overcome by a production.

What show or performance did you not see now or in the past that you wish you had? Laurette Taylor in The Glass Menagerie. That performance was legendary.

What TV programs do you DVR when you’re working a show? Madmen, Smash, lots of political shows: Washington Week, McLaughlin Report.

Whose music can you not live without?  Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Maltby and Shire, Kander and Ebb, Harold Arlen, Puccini.

What performer would you do almost anything to see?  Angela Lansbury. Every time I’ve seen her, I’ve never been disappointed. Every word is heard, every moment committed….she pulls you right in.

Why doesn’t South Florida theater have a higher profile nationally?
  We have so many talented artists here. Every time I see a show in NY, I nearly always think that it could be done just as well, if not better here in our theatre community.

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