Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Interview with Jonathan West

Jonathan West returns to Milwaukee Chamaber Theatre (MCT) after appearing in TALLEY'S FOLLY in 2008.  He is currently the managing director of Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove. An actor, director and theatre administrator, he has worked at companies including Bialystock & Bloom, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Skylight Opera Theatre and Next Act Theatre. Next summer, Jonathan will return to MCT to direct the 2012-2013 season opener.
To gain further insights about Jonathan, we asked him a few questions about himself and his upcoming performance as Boolie.

Please tell us how or why you first got involved in theatre?

I had my first experience as an actor at the tender age of 13 in a rousing musical comedy called TAKE ME BACK TO MANHATTAN.  I carried a 2 x 4 across the stage and my one line was, "Places, everyone, places!"  Clearly, I had tasted the glamour that is a life on the stage and continued by becoming my high school drama club President, studying theatre administration and directing at New York University, and returning to Milwaukee where I ran my own theatre company (Bialystock & Bloom) for twelve years while working with other great companies in town.

Tell us about your first time reading or seeing DRIVING MISS DAISY.

I recall seeing a production of DRIVING MISS DAISY at Milwaukee Rep many, many years ago.  I took a date.  It was a good date.  A gentleman never kisses and tells, I'm afraid.

From your perspective, how would you describe your character, Boolie?

Boolie is just doing what any good son would do—taking care of his mama.  He's in a tough spot because he's really Daisy's primary caregiver, but she is fiercely independent. He tries as best he can to let her be independent while making sure she is safe and is socially connected to others.  I
have a 91-year-old mother-in-law who is testing my loving, patient wife in many of the ways Daisy tests Boolie. 

Was it difficult for you to learn a southern accent? 

Learning it wasn't difficult..maintaining it is.  Our dialect coach Michelle was on to me quickly and has tried hard to make sure I sound like I'm from Atlanta, not Texas.  I had just finished watching all five seasons of "Friday Night Lights" when we started rehearsals, so I had to shake the Texas drawl out of my head.

Lastly, what message do you hope the audience takes from this play?

I hope audiences relax, enjoy, and are charmed by Ruth Schudson and Michael Torrey.  They're worthy of a lovely evening in the theatre.  

Thank you Jonathan! We're looking forward to the show!

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