The actors of Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody discuss their intimate and personal connections to the production and to their characters.

“What was your first experience or memory of the play from which your character originates?”

Engstrom_108x144Jennifer Engstrom
(Blanche DuBois)

My introduction to Blanche DuBois would have been the Vivian Leigh film performance, though it was blasted out of my system once I started working on the play in 2010 (the Writers production helmed by David Cromer, in which I played Eunice and understudied Joseph Jefferson Award-winning actress Natasha Lowe in the role of Blanche). It was then that the role became less mystifying and more approachable, and I identified quite strikingly with her wants and wounds.


Sean Fortunato (The Stage Manager)

I played Mr. Webb in Our Town in college and dated the woman who played Emily, my daughter. Hopefully audience members didn’t sense anything extra during those comforting fatherly embraces.



Marc Grapey (Willy Loman)

I remember reading Death of a Salesman when I was still in high school. But my first real memory of the play is the Dustin Hoffman/John Malkovich production that was on Broadway. I remember seeing Malkovich come out of the stage door and walk down 46th Street in a purple beret.



John Hoogenakker (George)

I’m embarrassed to say it, but I saw the movie before I saw the play. As I recall, there were no cellphone interruptions. The first production I saw in a theatre was the one at Steppenwolf a few years back, with Tracy Letts, and I thought it was phenomenal. Despite the cellphone interruptions.



Michael Perez (Stanley Kowalski)

Probably watching A Streetcar Named Desire in high school drama class or something. I don’t remember exactly where it was but I remember being an awkward and chubby adolescent who didn’t understand Stanley’s sexuality, strength or primal nature; all foreign concepts to a young nerd.



Karen Janes Woditsch (Martha)

I remember seeing a picture from the film of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in my book, STARS! The book was published in 1983 and I got it when it was new and I was a senior in high school! I know, I know, and you all thought I just graduated college! The picture was of Elizabeth Taylor collapsing into George Segal’s arms, Sandy Dennis has her hands over her ears, and Richard Burton has a look of supreme satisfaction as he says something horrible to her. I hadn’t read the play or seen the movie at that point. But the picture was mesmerizing. My first impression was of emotional chaos. And yet, I still had a moment of appreciating Taylor’s nifty cigarette pants.


“What’s your favorite part of playing the parody version of your character?”



Jennifer Engstrom (Blanche DuBois)

I have always thought that Blanche Dubois is hilarious. Grandeur in the face of utter humiliation is kinda my jam.



Sean Fortunato (The Stage Manager)


I find the more I commit to the sincerity of The Stage Manager and try to play his text as honestly as possible, the more the ridiculousness of what’s he’s saying cracks me up. The text is so clever and funny, and I get to share the stage with incredibly skilled dramatic actors whose authenticity make them hilarious.



Marc Grapey (Willy Loman)

My favorite part is telling people that I’m playing Willy Loman at Writers Theatre. I leave out the detail about the parody and all the other characters from other famous plays.



John Hoogenakker (George)

I love getting to make snide remarks between bites of scotch. In the play, I mean. As opposed to in life. I’m not like this in life. (Takes bite of scotch).



Michael Perez (Stanley Kowalski)

What I love about this opportunity is that it’s after his play; one notch past prime and perhaps one beer too many. The Stanley we know is still here but I can’t wait to play the parts written in our version that have bubbled up after screaming “Stella!” a few too many times.



Karen Janes Woditsch (Martha)

Martha is already a fairly big character in the dramatic version; so to make the comedy work I’m looking forward to see how much space I can take up with teased hair, and enlarged breasts. Add lots of actual booze and you’ve got comedy gold! A BIGGER, LOUDER, FASTER, FUNNIER Martha. The Benny Hill School of Comedy. My alma mater.


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