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Merrily We Roll Along  Curtain Calls

Jennifer EllisName: Jennifer Ellis

Role: Beth Spencer

What is your hometown? Whitman, MA

How has your definition of success changed as you’ve progressed through your career? I think success is something nebulous and very personal. Feeling happy and fulfilled and doing work I consider valuable, for me – that’s success! 

How are you like your character? Beth and I are both trusting and friendly, but also resilient and strong.

What advice would you give to artists at the beginning of their career? Never stop learning, be kind and hardworking – and travel whenever and wherever you can!

What is your favorite Stephen Sondheim song or musical? “Not a Day Goes By” is an absolutely perfect song. I also love “Send in the Clowns.” My grandmother gave me a "Reader’s Digest: Hit Parade” music book for piano when I was about nine. I found “Send in the Clowns” in there and fell in love. 

What is your most memorable experience from early in your acting career? I brought the turnip for Stone Soup in the 2nd grade play. We had to provide our own props. I didn’t know what a turnip was, so I surreptitiously emptied a Tupperware container into the soup. People said it was a glorious performance.

Who is your best friend and what makes your relationship special? That would be my husband, Ben. He’s a brilliant scientist. Our careers are very different, but we have a genuine interest in and respect for what the other is passionate about.

 

Eden EspinosaName: Eden Espinosa

Role: Mary Flynn

Hometown: Anaheim, California

How has your definition of success changed as you’ve progressed through your career? When I first started out there was one goal! TO BE ON BROADWAY! That was my definition of success. Now that I'm older and have actually made a living in this industry for over 20 years, I think differently. My definition of success is to just be a working actor. There are so many different ways to express yourself, so many amazing projects to be a part of, and there are so many things that I want to do. I just want to keep working, keep growing and challenging myself, and keep creating. That is success to me.

How are you like your character? I'm still getting to know Mary, so I don't know the full answer to this question. But I know she is a fierce friend, a loyal protector, and loves deeply. She feels a lot. She has a lot of emotions. She doesn't wear them on her sleeve, but they are there. The older I get the more transparent I try to be, so I try to wear my emotions on my sleeve more. I think in these ways Mary and I are very similar.

What advice would you give to artists at the beginning of their career? The advice I give to young artists, and the advice I wish I heard when I was younger is be yourself. Foster and nurture what makes you unique. There is only one of you. Don't be afraid to fail, it's how you grow and get better."

What is your favorite Stephen Sondheim song or musical? My favorite Sondheim musical is Sunday in the Park With George and my favorite song is “Move On.” There are so many songs and lyrics of his that really resonate so deep for me. But this song, as an artist, as a human, really hits the spot.  

What is your most memorable experience from early in your acting career? Every moment in my life has a meaning to me. I literally treasure every moment and memory because I know how fleeting these moments can be. It's impossible to choose just one. But I will say I look forward to and mourn every beginning and every ending. I love coming together with a group of strangers and bonding and creating that instant family. Just as much as I love that, I hate it coming to an end. I know that chapter must end, but it hurts every time. It never gets easier.

Who is your best friend and what makes your relationship special? I'm lucky enough in my life to have a solid group of besties. They are few, but they are the truest of bluest. Each one has their own spark that makes them special to me. The ability to see me where I am, to speak truth in my life, to listen when I need an ear, to keep my accountable, and to be that mirror for me when I can't see myself.

 

Mark UmbersName: Mark Umbers

Role: Franklin Shepard

What is your hometown? Harrogate in North Yorkshire, England. 

How has your definition of success changed as you’ve progressed through your career? My definition of success has definitely changed over the last 20 years. Nowadays I tend to appraise my success in terms of what I'm giving to the world rather than what I'm taking from it. 

How are you like your character? Like Frank, I can sometimes try to please everyone and lose my own way in the process. 

What advice would you give to artists at the beginning of their career? Concentrate on the work, not on the money. In the case of acting, chase big roles, not big paychecks.

What is your favorite Stephen Sondheim song or musical? My favorite Sondheim musical is Merrily, but then I know it far better than his other plays. The song that most resonates with me is “Like it was.” There's a real sadness and wisdom in those lyrics. Very simple and very heartbreaking.

What is your most memorable experience from early in your acting career? My most memorable experience from early in my career was running the candlelight scene from The Glass Menagerie for the first time. I was playing the Gentleman Caller and arrived two weeks late, but off-book. We turned all the lights off and just had the candelabra. It is still one of the most magical and moving memories I have from my career.

Who is your best friend and what makes your relationship special? I have a select handful of best friends, but the number one slot would have to go to my old college roommate. Despite us both having changed a great deal since university, we still share the same dynamic and the same sense of humor that we did all those years ago. We've also been very diligent about remaining in regular contact throughout the years.

 

Damian HumbleyName: Damian Humbley

Role: Charley Kringas

What is your hometown? Hometown is a hard one. I have my family in Queensland (where I was born), with friends in Melbourne (all in Australia), but have lived and worked in London for the last 12 years... so, I'll have to get back to you on that one.

How has your definition of success changed as you’ve progressed through your career? I used to think other people defined my success, but as I've grown older (and those other people haven't defined it to my satisfaction), I've come to the realization that the only person who can honestly comment on any idea of my success is me.

How are you like your character? I connect with Charley’s ideology of “put the quality of work ahead of the quantity.” He's constantly reminding Frank that writing something that means something has more value than selling out to simply be famous and make money.

What advice would you give to artists at the beginning of their career? Never stop being a student. Even when you're sure you “know better,” look for the opportunity to learn.

What is your favorite Stephen Sondheim song or musical? Merrily We Roll Along OF COURSE!! As for a song, it changes from day to day/year to year, but right now I think “Good Thing Going” is pretty much the perfect song.

What is your most memorable experience from early in your acting career? Having a bladder infection in a 90-minute, one act, two handed show, and needing to pee... those kinds of things have a way of burning into memory.

Who is your best friend and what makes your relationship special? My partner, Clare. And I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.


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