Actor-director-composer-playwright Anita Hollander discusses her favourite roles (which includes 1 exactly where she played a 3-legged cat, then a 1-legged dance hall girl). Anita reveals that occasionally her disability is an asset rather than a liability in performing demanding acting roles.
Susan Dansby: Inform us about your favourite acting part.
Anita Hollander: I have two favorites. The 1st 1 getting when I played Grizabella in Cats. I wasn't a significant fan of the show Cats but I played Grizabella – the 1 who sings “Memory” – as a 3-legged cat.
When I got the job, the producer and the director and I talked and I mentioned, “You know, why never we just have me, au naturel, as a 3- legged cat?” A cat who's gone out there in the globe and lost her leg and came back and everyone is sort of freaked out and then, she sings this song about 'if you touch me, you will comprehend what happiness is.' And it brings in a complete new which means when this cat has been via life and no one should really really feel sorry for her.
And it was so best, and we all agreed that that was a terrific way to do it. And it definitely produced the complete expertise of Cats a complete various issue, brought it to a complete various level exactly where everyone just definitely skilled a thing unique. And that was a actual favourite of mine.
The other favourite of mine is a part that I got a Helen Hayes award nomination for down in Washington. And that was a globe premiere musical named The Fifth Season in which I played a dance hall girl who is operating away from a boyfriend who shot her in the leg. And by the second act she loses her leg – she has to have her leg amputated out in the wilderness. She's a homesteader and she's attempting to get some land of her personal and the girls about her have to assist her drop her leg since of the gunshot wound.
So in the 1st act, I am dancing on the bar prime, and I am singing, and I am undertaking all this stuff. And then, in the second act, I have 1 leg. And audiences debated in the lobby how they did the 1-legged issue since the actress could not have 1 leg since she danced in the 1st act and we all saw each legs. So they need to be covering it somehow. How did they do that? Mainly because there was a significant fight scene and all the things with me with 1 leg and persons could not figure out exactly where I was hiding my other leg. But the funny issue about that was how I got that job.
Susan Dansby: Yes, how did you get that job?
Anita Hollander: It really is 1 of my favourite stories since I had sung several instances at [New York University] for the musical theater writers, exactly where they bring in qualified singers and actors to present the project that the writers are functioning on. And these two girls, a composer and a lyricist, had had me come in and sing some stuff with Cass Morgan – a different amazing musical theatre particular person.
Then, a couple of years went by, and I got a telephone contact from these two persons – this composer and lyricist group – who mentioned, “We'd like you to do a reading of our new musical. It really is going to be down in Maryland (I reside in New York City). So we'd bring you down if you are interested. You know, you are just so best, we'd like you to do this and it really is this amazing story of the dance hall girl who gets shot, and she runs away from Oklahoma to go to South Dakota, and she loses her leg. It really is an extraordinary accurate story of the West.
I mentioned, “This is terrific!” And I mentioned, “Do you want me to take my leg off in the second half of the reading?” (It was staged reading.) And there was silence – total silence on the telephone line. And I believed, “Oh, what did I do, what did I do?” I mentioned, “Are you guys, okay?” And they mentioned, “You know what, can we get back to you, can we just contact you back in a couple of minutes?” Then, they hung up and I believed, “Oh, what did I do?” And they named me back a couple of minutes later and mentioned, “Anita we did not know you had 1 leg. We just knew that your voice was the voice we remembered as the best voice. You have got this significant bold voice. We loved your voice, then. We would like to have it now. And we had no concept that you had 1 leg. And we hope you are not offended, since that is not why we named you.”
And I mentioned, “Are you kidding? How several roles are basically that best for me to have two legs in the 1st act, and 1 leg in the second, and to sing and to act?” I mentioned, “You could not have provided me a higher compliment.” And then, I did the reading down in Maryland. And then, they chose the piece to do at the Olney Theatre – also in Maryland – about a year right after that. And the funny issue was they produced me audition once again for the part.
And when I walked out of the space, the musical director mentioned to the director and the casting director, and the producer, “Why are we sitting right here speaking about this? She is the best particular person for this part. There is no discussion. We need to have to cast this lady and quit speaking about it.” And they all agreed that properly, of course it really is best. If the part is an amputee who can sing and dance and act, and we have an amputee actress who can sing and dance and act sitting in our space, there is no query. So it was incredibly funny.
Susan Dansby: I just assume it really is such a terrific instance of how the issue you assume will quit you the issue you assume will close doors in your face is the issue, invariably, that opens doors for you.
Anita Hollander: It really is incredibly accurate in several situations it really is been an asset for me on several levels, not normally.
Susan Dansby: Not normally.
Anita Hollander: There are actual disabled roles that I was not cast in. I was auditioned for it and they went for a non-disabled actor for the part even although they had the genuine, precise, particular person (actress) in the space. So it has not normally worked in my favor but when it has, I contact it an asset. I have normally felt this way – that what tends to make me special is an asset even if I never get other jobs. In truth, on my resume are far extra roles that are not viewed as disabled at all. Blanche, in Brighton Beach Memoirs. Golde. Emma Goldman. All these roles that I've carried out, no one ever considers them disabled. They weren't disabled. If they are historical roles, they weren't disabled. Even in the stories or if it really is fictional roles – not disabled.
Nonetheless, it does not hurt to have a particular person in that part since it really is not distinct, 1 way or the other. And I have a terrific artificial leg and I've tapped-danced in Nunsense and all of the Nunsense musicals. And been goofy and carried out choreography and definitely essentially passed as a two-legged persons – as a non- disabled particular person.
Like in Damn Yankees, [when I was] playing Meg, the wife, the cast would generally say to me, “We normally overlook that you have 1 leg since you zip on to that stage and zip back off once again.”
Susan Dansby: Effectively, and I assume that the other way that getting in a minority becomes an asset is that you go in recognizing, “Okay, there could be some odds against me right here.”
Anita Hollander: Ideal.
Susan Dansby: Precisely, it puts you in such a head set that you know you have to be that a lot much better in order to impress.
Anita Hollander: This is incredibly accurate, Susan. That is most likely the most worthwhile issue – that is so accurate. You, several instances, have to prove to them that you are the much better actor than the 1 that walked in who occurred to have two legs.