Adriane Lenox :: In the moment in ’Now or Later’
Friendly, candid, grounded, and, oh yes, multi- talented, Adriane Lenox spoke to EDGE about her role in the American premiere from the Huntington Theatre Company of Christopher Shinn’s "Now Or Later" -- and about other moments, from a song she wrote about 9/11, her birthday, and the night she won a Tony for her performance in "Doubt."
Lenox shares that birth date, September 11, with this writer. The reaction she gets when she tells someone her birthday, a woeful "oh, oh," is typical, but the day has a more tragic meaning for her.
"I wrote a song about it," she says. "Expressed what it was like, a day I’ll never forget. I had a friend who was killed in the tower whom I’d seen two days before that. Very tragic.
"Even to this day, every time I drive past that area near Battery Park, I get so mad.
"It’s gotten better though. I’ve put the song away. Maybe, I should look at it again.
"As to my birthday, well, I never was a big birthday person so that part didn’t affect me."
Intended to coincide with the ongoing Presidential campaign, the timely political drama "Now Or Later" that runs through November 10, 2012 at the Calderwood Pavilion in the Boston Center for the Arts in Boston’s South End. Michael Wilson, who recently helmed the acclaimed Broadway production of Gore Vidal’s presidential drama "The Best Man," directs.
The play takes place in a hotel suite occupied by the son of the Democratic Party’s candidate on Election Night as the voter returns are coming in. (The playwright is American, by the way, although the world premiere of "Now or Later" was at the Royal Court Theatre in London some four years ago).
Everything’s looking rosy for the likely President-elect when photographs start showing up on the internet of his son attending a college party dressed as the prophet Muhammad and accompanied by a friend costumed as the ultra conservative "Pastor Bob." People on the President-elect’s staff get antsy about damage control, but John, Jr. doesn’t want to make a public apology for what he sees as a free speech issue. The family dynamic, it turns out, isn’t all that smooth to begin with as dad isn’t comfortable with John, Jr.’s being gay.
"It’s interesting that a play written four years ago is so timely," comments Lenox who plays one of the candidate’s staff.
"The playwright hasn’t updated it either.
"There’s something scary relevant about it and nothing in the rehearsal process has been done to make the story any different from when it was first done," she said.
A bit confused...
Lenox adds that she did a reading of it "a couple of years ago.
"Eddie Redmayne, who played the President’s son in the London production was in New York performing in ’Red’ (the story about the painter Rothko and his young assistant for which English actor as the assistant won the 2009 Tony for Best Featured Actor). The playwright wanted to get interest in staging it (’Now or Later’) here so we did it for a small gathering at Playwrights Horizon, although I don’t know who was being courted to put it on."
At the reading Lenox read the role she’s playing at the Huntington - that of a political operative named Tracy.
She was, though, confused as to her character’s exact job title.
"Have you read the script?" she asked.
I admitted I had a copy , but only really skimmed it.
"So what do you think my official job title is? she asked.
"I don’t know," I responded, "beyond that you’re on the candidate’s staff."
"Exactly. It wasn’t clear to me either, and was the question I asked in rehearsal on the first day."
An intelligent woman
It was then she was told by the play’s director that she was the campaign manager for the Presidential candidate, named John Sr., at the center of the play.
She also learned that Tracy was based on a real-life figure.
"When I talked with Christopher Shinn about the role, he tells me that he based her on Donna Brazile who ran Al Gore’s campaign. (Brazile, an author and political strategist is currently the vice chair of the Democratic National Convention and can be regularly seen on ABC’s Sunday morning news show "This Week.")
This is an intelligent woman," says Lenox about aspects of her part she’s enjoying. "She’s fun. She’s savvy."
Lenox came to theater "not by Yale," she says, "but after studying at a small college an hour and a half from Memphis. I got a degree in theater and had a great time doing a lot of musical shows. I was on a scholarship."
Her first break
She got her New York break through a friend who knew a dance captain of a show that was to tour. That audition led to work and what has turned out to be a fabulous career much of it in musicals. Some highlights include her Obie and AUDELCO Award winning, multiple-characters performance in "Dinah Was."
In 2005, she won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Drama for Mrs. Muller in John Patrick Shanley’s "Doubt; A Parable."
Lenox had a blast at the Award ceremony.
For one thing, her award was early in the show!
"I got to sit there and enjoy the night," she said.
"Now or Later" continues through November 10, 2012 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA. For more information visit the Huntington Theatre Company’s website.