Leading up to the opening of our fifth show of the season, Other Desert Cities, we’ll be introducing you to the cast. A story about the fictional Wyeth family – lead by a mother and father highly regarded in old Hollywood circles – and daughter Brooke Wyeth’s memoir that may bring to light a dark secret that no one wants revealed. The Guthrie Theater characterized the play as “a searing comedy with banter that dazzles and decimates, making it one of the most satisfying grown-up plays of the decade.” Filled with a unique family of characters, we’d love for you to meet the talented actors behind them.
To wrap up – let’s meet the final cast member, Brooke Wyeth, played by Erin McConnell.
Playhouse: In what ways do you relate to your character?
Erin McConnell: Brooke is an interesting case, and a surprisingly complicated character for me to get inside of. When I first read the script, I was very moved (of course), and I thought – yes, I understand everything she is saying, how she’s feeling, what she means. But Brooke, while older than me in the play, is actually more relate-able to a younger version of myself logically and emotionally – regarding her place in the world, her place in her family, what’s she’s owed, etc. So there’s been a real balance for me to find in that – some things she does or says I have a lot of sympathy for, and some I don’t, because as a person I have struggled with some of the same things and come to different conclusions than she has. It’s knowing how to be honest in each of those moments, to own them fully, that has been an exciting part of the process for me. It’s so engaging, because it’s a play where audience sympathies can really bounce around between the different characters, even within a scene – and as a reader and actor I can definitely feel that too.
PH: In what ways are you changed from this story?
Erin: Certainly this play is a meditation on family, but it’s also a meditation on personal truth – divergent stories, even within a family, of ‘fact,’ of family history. I’ve been thinking a lot on that, on personal narrative, and what that means. Also, certainly, playing a daughter, a sister, and niece – it just can’t help but carry into your own life, how you empathize and communicate with your off-stage relations. Brooke and I are very hard on ourselves, I would say – and my learning to love Brooke has perhaps softened me a bit to some of those tendencies within myself. From a technical perspective I can also say I am changed because of the actors I get to work with – I admire them all profusely, I am so humbled by them – and I know that I will leave this show a better, stronger actor because of them, and because of Julie’s direction.
PH: You don’t currently live in Duluth – what drew your attention to this project?
Erin: This is going to sound like platitude, but I cannot stress enough how fully I mean this: nowhere is like Duluth. Nowhere. Nowhere has what we’ve (you’ve) got going on, in the way you’ve got it going on. The number of artists (of all ilk), the commitment to craft, the legit support that folks here give to one another, it’s… amazing. Amazing is what it is. I am addicted to this city, this community, and with good reason. I tell everyone about it, I’m such a Duluth zealot, wholly without shame. So, I’m always keeping my eye out for opportunities here, the right timing, the right show. When I heard about Cities, read the script, knew who was involved, knew I could get away – I couldn’t not try to be a part of it. Even at 2am, in the middle of my 6 hour, post rehearsal commute, I never question how lucky I am to have been cast in this show, especially working with the people I am. I can’t wait to hear the community’s response to our production.
PH: Any special thanks or shout-outs?
Erin: All my love to my cast and production team; they’ve really become family to me. Thanks to the Duluth Playhouse for welcoming me back to the fold for this amazing show, and for trusting me to make the multi-state commute. Thanks to Julie Ahasay for believing in me. Thanks to my parents and friends for helping me combat jet lag with coffee and conversation, to Molly O’Neill for being the best friend a girl could hope for, and to my dear fiancee Ian for not only loaning me out for two months, but supporting me unflinchingly every step of the way. I couldn’t have done this without any of you.
Thanks for reading our blog and meeting the cast of the show! Other Desert Cities opens this week Thursday! You can grab your tickets by calling 218-733-7555 or by purchasing online. See you at the show!