Meet the Scrooges...that weren't! On November 28th, Goodman Theatre officially kicks off the Chicago holiday season with its annual production of CHRISTMAS CAROL. On their way into a technical rehearsal, Eric Parks (young Scrooge) and Tiffany Scott (Belle) sat down with me to chat about the current show and being actors in Chicago.
T4W: When was the first time you knew you wanted to be an actor?
ERIC: It was more of a mistake. I enjoyed being in a junior high play... something about clowns. But I was really focused on athletics. When I decided I wasn't tall enough or fast enough for the NFL, I went back on stage. I left Oregon went to NYC then to Milwaukee and ended up at University of Illinois Urbana where I got my MFA. I've been acting in Chicago for five years. I do work outside of acting as a server at Elephant & Castle.
TIFFANY: I was a freshman in high school. In that grade, you couldn't be IN the play but I found observing theatre inspirational. I left Atlanta to attend Northwestern University to get my MFA and stayed in Chicago. My parents have been supportive of my acting but like that I have master's degree to teach. I am lucky to be supporting myself as an actor without another job. For this job, Bill Brown (director of Christmas Carol) was working with APT and asked me to be in the Goodman show.
T4W: You're both part of the American Player's Theatre? How do you make being a
Chicago actor work three hours away?
TIFFANY: We auditioned and signed a five month contract to be in an ensemble of thirty actors performing in eight shows in repertory. APT housed us in apartments for the season.
ERIC: Typically, an APT actor will be cast in 3 of the 8 shows and understudy on a 4th show.
T4W: Highlight of your acting career?
ERIC: Stringing together opportunities. The consistency. Seeing further into my career then the current show.
TIFFANY: Working at APT this past season. Working with such articulate and intelligent people, it was wonderful learning by osmosis.
T4W: During a performance, what's the best moment for you?
TIFFANY: I like to hear the audience react. In this show, it's the ghost of Marley appearing and kids screaming. Hearing the audience react to being on the ride with you is very gratifying.
ERIC: Definitely, it's the audience on the ride with you. They become part of the show and complete it in a way. They definitely can influence the tone of the show.
T4W: You play a couple that don't work out, what advice would you give your characters about making it?
ERIC: He (Ebenezer) should speak his mind. He has things to say.
TIFFANY: Belle makes the right choice. I'd tell her to keep following her heart.
T4W: How hard is it to in a relationship on stage while in one off stage?
TIFFANY: It helps that Eric and I worked together at APT in playing lovers on stage. We knew each other before so we were more comfortable initially.
ERIC: You definitely get 'show crushes' but they are just that.
T4W: Are you in an offstage relationship with an actor.
ERIC: Six years with an actress I met in Urbana.
TIFFANY: A year with an actor formerly my onstage husband.
T4W: Everyone knows the story of A CHRISTMAS CAROL what makes this production special?
TIFFANY: Everyone has seen it in some shape or form. Bill Brown (director) finds the humanity and the hope in all the characters. They are all very human characters.
ERIC: Real people dealing with real things. It's a heartfelt warm story about wants and desires
T4W: Three words to describe A CHRISTMAS CAROL...
ERIC: Joyful, beautiful, fun
TIFFANY: Hope, redemption, reclamation
T4W: What's next theatre-wise after A CHRISTMAS CAROL?
ERIC: I'm in Short Shakespeare in MACBETH at Chicago Shakes
TIFFANY: I'm in Shaw's HEARTBREAK HOUSE at Writers Theatre
T4W: What's your fantasy role to play as an actor?
ERIC: A part in a Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller play
TIFFANY: Leading lady roles in Shakespeare plays. Strong, powerful women like Cleopatra or Lady M.
T4W: What Chicago director would you want to help you nail the part?
ERIC & TIFFANY: Bill Brown
T4W: What Chicago theatre company, that you've never worked with, would you like to?
T4W: Best Christmas gift ever?
ERIC: 1st Nintendo with 'Duck Hunt' in the 80s
TIFFANY: Homemade cards or something where the person invested time.
T4W: What three words describe you...
TIFFANY: Hardworking, loyal
ERIC: (via e-mail later that day) In thinking about your final question I was unable to think of words for myself, but if you want here are here are three words I think describe my friend Tiffany. I think she was dead on with loyal and I would add extremely generous and lovely
(both inside and out).
Ah, the Scrooges that never were... in a word 'adorable.' Check them out this holiday season at the Goodman Theatre.