Talking in the Green Room With: Patti Gardner

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

In this edition, we find out how belching figures into Patti Gardner’s art.

Patti Gardner

Actress, singer, dancer

Hometown: Weston

How long have you lived/worked in South Florida?
Lived 32 years/worked 25

Education; major?
University of Arizona; dance major.

What role/play are you dying to do but no one would think of you for?
I want to play the Granny role in Pippin (the one Irene Ryan played)…. don’t ask me why. Have always LOVED that role.

What show do you wish somebody down here would produce?
Baby, Chicago and more Sondheim.

What show will you be happy never to see again unless it gets you a job?
Steel Magnolias.

What do you say when someone you like is in a terrible show or does a poor job?
“Ohhhh, how I love to see you up there”

How do you cope when there are more people on stage than in the audience?
I pretend one of them is Ben Brantley!

What’s the hardest/easiest part of what you do?
Driving to get there is the easiest and looking into a magnifying mirror while putting on makeup is the hardest.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I tend to belch.

What do you do after a show?
I tend to belch.

What was the first show you were involved in and what did you do?
Girl Crazy in college – ensemble.

When did you know this was what you wanted to do and why?
I was always “performing” in one way or another. Why? Child of divorce and it probably felt great to “be someone else.”

What do you think has been your best work in the theater to date, and why?
Tessie Tura in Gypsy (Fort Lauderdale Players). Probably wasn’t my best, but most people didn’t know it was me. What could be better than that? I was proud of my work in The Price (Palm Beach Dramaworks), too.

What do you think was your worst, and why didn’t it work?
Make Me A Song (Mosaic Theatre) …I couldn’t sing it. Tomorrow The World (Hollywood Playhouse) ….I couldn’t act it.

What was your best experience working in theater?
Honestly, there are so many. I’m the luckiest woman I know…but if I have to choose…Mack & Mabel (Hollywood Playhouse).

What was your worst?
I love that I’m having a really hard time answering this one.

What one role/show would like to do over or just do again?
Damn Yankees

What was the worst on-stage mishap you dealt with?
The crew “coked” the stage with pure coca-cola, and everyone was sticking to the stage. It sounded like a chorus of Velcro. AND….same show, a mic was left on while the actor was in the dressing room hacking away (he had just quit smoking). I never laughed so hard onstage in my life.

What’s your day job?
This is it…..talking about myself.

What’s the weirdest/worst non-theater job you ever had?
Legal secretary.

Do you have unexpected special talents and skills?
I can burp on command and I can whistle for a cab louder than anyone I know.

What would you do if you couldn’t be in theater?
I would do what most people do…work in a “job” unhappily. I think I would teach, actually.

What’s your most unforgettable theater experience?
Working with my children in community theater productions – Annie, The King & I, Oliver.

What TV programs do you DVR when you’re working a show?
Nurse Jackie, Men of a Certain Age, Inside The Actor’s Studio, Weeds and Modern Family.

Whose music can you not live without?
Stephen Schwartz, Kander & Ebb, Sondheim and Jerry Herman.

Why doesn’t South Florida theater have a higher profile nationally?
The theater patron is predominantly older and demands less artistically. Not enough young artists want to produce work here, I guess.

Finally, add a question you wish we had asked.
What is the one thing you would like to see improved regarding the South Florida Theater Community? I would like to see artistic directors make a concerted effort to attend theater between the three counties. It is appalling how little some artistic directors experience in their own theater community.

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