ART Station is producing the Neil Simon classic I Ought to Be in Pictures about a Hollywood scriptwriter with writer’s block whose abandoned daughter shows up on his door step 16 years after he left. It stars Bryan Brendle as Herb, Wendy Melkonian as Steffy and Eliana Marianes as Libby. In this Quick Chat feature with Eliana Marianes, she discusses her character, the cast and why she loves performing in the play.
What character do you play?
I play Libby Tucker, the daughter who shows up on her dad’s doorstep 16 years after he abandons the family. She’s the sunniest, funniest, most hardworking gal I know (with the possible exception of my wonderful co-star, Ms. Wendy Melkonian, of course)! She’s the kind of girl you look at and say, “It must be wonderful to be her!” She has her vulnerable moments, just like anyone, but those only serve to make her more loveable. Libby is my favorite character I’ve ever played.
How would you describe the play?
The play is extremely well-crafted (just like every Simon play), and it has all these little gifts for the actors. We continue to find new funny things each night because the possibilities are truly limitless! The play is very witty, very touching, and full of heart, life and fun.
What attracted you to this production?
A better question would be, what DIDN’T attract me to this play? I was attracted to the production because of the venue (I’ve been wanting to work at ART Station for some time now!), the small cast size, the fact that it was a Simon play (who doesn’t want to do Simon?!), and when I read the script, I completely fell in love with the three characters. I don’t play favorites – I’m equally in love with Libby, Herb and Steffy!
What do you like most about working with ART Station?
I love the audiences – ART Station’s audience base is full of lovely, supportive folks who really love the theater, and it’s a treat to perform for them! I also really like how ART Station takes care of their actors. From another piece of glow-tape on the set to flowers in our dressing room on opening night, the crew and staff of ART Station let us know every day that they value the actors and our work, and I appreciate that.
If you could give the production a movie poster tag line, what would it be?
Hmmm… probably, “I hope you have flood insurance!” (One of my favorite of Libby’s Act II jokes.) Seriously, though? Probably… “All great changes are preceded by chaos.”
What three words would you use to describe your cast mates?
I feel like I joined the dream team when I joined this cast. Wendy and Bryan are two of the most fun-loving, trustworthy and exciting people to be around (not to mention to be sharing the stage with them). I couldn’t ask for a better cast!
Do you have a favorite moment in the production?
My favorite moment in the play is definitely the “teach-me-about-sex talk” that the very talented Bryan Brendle and I have in Act II. Every father dreads having this conversation with his daughter, but Simon writes an enchanting and disarming chat that, while hilarious, ends with both father and daughter in tears as they finally connect and forgive one another for past mistakes. It comes at the end of a very long and emotionally demanding scene, so it’s a nice break for me as an actor – I get to sit back and have a good time with my fellow actor as we prepare for the final scene of the play. Bryan makes new choices every night that make me laugh, and I look forward to those surprises, as well as the audience’s reaction to this adorably uncomfortable conversation.
What should audiences expect when they come see the production?
They should expect to laugh harder than they ever have before in a play, but they should also bring the tissues for Act Two! They will be entirely enchanted and entirely entertained!
I Ought to Be in Pictures runs through August 19. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website.