Q & A with Mark Shanhan, who co-starred with Andrea Maulella in Karoline Leach's Tryst, which played at Irish Repertory Theatre from 1 Jul - 21 Aug 2011.
Place of birth?
New York City, New York.
You now live in?
Did you go to training school, if so which one?
I studied theatre at Brown and then spent some time in class at Ensemble Studio Theatre. Along the way, I got a Master's at Fordham.
As an actor, do you have a preference for stage, tv or film?
I've been lucky to do a little of each, but I really love both making plays and seeing them. There's nothing like it. Growing up in New York, my folks always took us to the theatre and it has always seemed a noble calling to me.
Your first stage performance was?
I was Townsperson Number 3 in "Robin Hood" in fifth grade.
Career highlight to date?
I briefly got to step into "The 39 Steps" at The Cort Theatre on Broadway. I teach a class on Hitchcock at Fordham University and for a lifelong Hitchcock fanatic to actually step into the shoes of Richard Hannay and yell "What ARE the 39 Steps?" was kind of the perfect storm of all of my interests.
What roles would you most like to play?
I'd like to do "Love's Labor's Lost." I'd love to do a Kaufman and Hart, or maybe take a crack at Elwood P. Dowd. I love to work on new plays, too, so I am always hoping to team with a director and writer to originate a great new role.
What's the best advice you have ever received?
"Just take the note."- Noble Shropshire. It always saves everyone a lot of time.
What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
I've fallen offstage, had my dresser put me in the wrong outfit, had guns fail to go off at crucial moments. But it all goes with the territory. Once I played a crippled veteran who uses two crutches and as I stood up at the end of the play, my crutches collapsed until they were about two feet long. I just stood there with my mini crutches, staring at the booth until the lights went down
What is the most annoying part about your job?
Only Mondays off? You can't see anyone else's show!
Briefly tell us how you become involved with Tryst?
In 2006, I was asked to do several plays at The Alley Theatre, in Houston. Gregory Boyd, the Artistic Director, recommended me for the role of George Love in "Tryst" to director Joe Brancato. Our Alley production was a great experience and my co-star Andrea Maulella and I immediately hit it off. In the years since, we have all been invited to present the play at The Westport Country Playhouse, Merrimack Rep and now, at last, at The Irish Repertory Theatre. Each time we have done it, Joe and Andrea and I have tried to improve upon our previous efforts. We're really excited about the changes we have made for the Irish Rep production.
Briefly tell us about the character you play in Tryst?
George Love is a con man who preys on unmarried women, stealing what little they have after romancing them. One day, he meets Adelaide, a lonely soul who works in a hat shop, and life gets very complicated. Although the play is set in London in 1910, it touches upon a lot of contemporary issues.
If you had not become a performer, what might you have done instead?
I always though I'd be a good tour guide at Universal Studios.
Who are your favorite actors/actresses?
Too many to mention: Orson Welles, Paul Newman, Jimmy Stewart, Bogart, Christopher Plummer, Eve Marie Saint, Grace Kelly, Judy Dench, Jack Lemmon, John Cazale, the list goes on and on...
Favorite after-show haunts?
I go home, mostly!
What was the last Broadway show you saw?
"Good People." It was excellent. Fantastic performances all around. I also really enjoyed "Brief Encounter" at The Roundabout and St. Anne's Warehouse. "War Horse" is beautiful.
What was the last book you read, and name some of your favorite authors?
I just read Pauline Kael's "I Lost It at the Movies." Pretty great. For fiction authors, I love Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, George Pelicanos, and recently, Steve Hamilton and Jason Starr. I am a sucker for good crime novels.
What was the last film you saw, and name some of your favorite movies?
I recently saw and liked "The King's Speech" very much. I teach film studies classes to college students, so some of my favorite movies are a bit older and my list of favorites is always changing. I teach classes on Hitchcock, Shakespeare in Film, and New York in Film. My personal favorites, movies that mean something to me personally, generally include "Rear Window," "Psycho," "Vertigo," "Next Stop Greenwich Village," "The Godfather," "Jaws," "The Haunting," "The Third Man," "Silence of the Lambs," "2001," "On The Waterfront," "Gosford Park," "The Informer," and "Taxi Driver." I'd love to tell you my favorite film is something foreign and high minded, but the fact is I could watch "Raiders of the Lost Ark" at any given moment and be perfectly happy.
Favorite TV programs?
"Taxi," "Cheers," "The Honeymooners," "24," "The Sopranos," "Boardwalk Empire," "The Daily Show." I get sucked into anything on Discovery. "A Deadliest Catch" Marathon has been known to eat up an entire day. I'm looking for a good new show to follow.
Do you have any hobbies?
I'm a Yankee fan. And not a bandwagon fan. I grew up when they didn't make the playoffs every year.
Do you have any superstitions?
A ton. I always have a green towel at my station in my dressing room. I always say my first and last lines when "places" is called. I always like to touch everything I touch in a play before I go onstage
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
A motorboat, a helicopter, and a working cell phone… whatever the hell can get me back to New York.
What are your future plans?
I'm going to get to the end of this run and take a long awaited vacation with my family! Then, I direct "Gaslight" at The Fulton Opera House this fall.