Friday, February 13, 2009

'Talented Mr. Ripley' Comes to Suisun City's Harbor Theater

Starting on March 5, 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' will begin a nearly month long run at the Harbor Theater in Suisun City's Waterfront District. It's a great play, so plan on joining us.

The Vallejo Times-Herald ran a short interview this morning with Lee Ann D'Amato, one of the leads in the Solano College Theatre production.

Actress plays evil Dottie in 'Ripley,' believe it or not

By RICH FREEDMAN/Times-Herald staff writer
Posted: 02/13/2009 01:01:22 AM PST

There just may be a little Aunt Dottie in Lee Ann D'Amato. And for those familiar with "The Talented Mr. Ripley," that can't be a good thing.
"She's not the nicest person in the world," D'Amato said of her character. "She's really evil. I think she's the reason Tom Ripley became a serial killer."

Though the Vallejo actress has never provoked anyone to murder, "I'm sure I have a dark side," she said.

Not that she needed to look inside herself to bring Dottie to life in the Solano College Theater's production that opens March 5 at the Harbor Theater in Suisun.

"I have a relative who is similar to Aunt Dottie," D'Amato said.

The actress is excited about the role and working again with director George Maguire.

"George is an actor himself, so he totally can relate to what you go through to do a part," D'Amato said.

The director gives direction, "but doesn't direct you to the point where you think it's his vision of the part," D'Amato said. "You feel you're able to explore what you want to do and that the part is truly your own."

Besides, she added, "I think he's hysterically funny. That helps a lot. I giggle all the time during rehearsals. I enjoy a director who's a hoot. He has great stories. I'm having a blast."

The admiration is mutual.

"I've known her for almost 18 years, and she is a kick to be in a room with," Maguire said. "A lot of humor and simultaneous depth, and above all friendship and familiarity."

Whatever the role, the reasons D'Amato takes to the community theater stage hasn't changed in 20-plus years.
D'Amato's fresh off her performance as pirate in "Pirates of Penzance" for the Vallejo Music Theatre last October. She laughed that, as a 48-year-old, "I was a little long in the tooth to play a maiden. So I said I'd do it only if I played a pirate."

"I do it because I love to act," she said. "It's my thing. Everyone has their love. I'd act in my living room if I could get people over. And my friends know this. That's why they say, 'Meet us in a public place.'"

Despite her experience, there's always the jitters no matter what the play, D'Amato said.

"I'm always nervous with every part," she said. "Every single show. I believe that's what gives me energy and hopefully makes me portray roles well. I always feel nervous. I don't care how smoothly it's gone in rehearsals. Until I walk on stage. Then it vanishes."

It's just fine if loved ones are in the audience, D'Amato said, as long as it's not the front row.

"I actually like knowing people come to see me. I like to know friends, family and loved ones care enough to come," D'Amato said. "But I almost prefer not knowing, of course. But that's impossible. They usually call and tell me they're coming. I just want to go ut and do the part and not be thinking about that kind of stuff. As long as they're not in the front row. I try to ask, 'Please don't sit too close.'"

A 26-year Vallejoan, the actress said she might take a shot at directing some day. All the better if it's Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile."

"I if can get a venue and put together the money and cast to do that particular play," D'Amato. "I would kill to direct that."

She thought for a minute. Aunt Dottie, perhaps, would kill to direct.

"I would maim to direct that play," D'Amato said.

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