Melissa Errico starred as 'Candida' in the Irish Repertory Theatre's Off-Broadway production of 'Candida' which played from 24 Feb - 25 Apr 2010 at the Irish Repertory Theatre.
Place of birth?
I was born in NY Hospital, NYC. My father is a doctor and delivered me, in the 70s.
You now live in?
A loft in Little Italy, NYC in a building that used to be a chocolate factory.
Did you go to training school, if so which one?
I started training very young and was a child actor. I studied with Rose Allen when I was 11 years old, who was one of Bernadette Peter's early teachers and went on to continue voice training with Joyce Hall and then Joan Lader by the time I was 22 and starring in MY FAIR LADY on Broadway. I went to Yale University, studied drama there and at Oxford at the BADA Certificate Program, and dropped out of the famed Yale Drama Graduate School when I was cast as Eliza. For ten years, I have had one acting coach in NYC named Harold Guskin.
As an actor, do you have a preference for stage, TV or film?
I have been through many phases of my career, and loved all my work in all three, but the times of greatest bliss and satisfaction so far have been with the theater. And the times of the lowest lows have been theater. It seems the theater is where my soul lives. I do have a feeling that when I am older, I will find one role on television that really moves me. (Perhaps playing a doctor.)
Your first stage performance was?
It was in the Girl Scouts musical on International Day on Long Island. My best friend was due to star in our presentation (all the Long Island girl scout troupes were given a country and our troupe was assigned Mexico). Our show was called LA CUCHARACHA. And she was the cockroach. I was a dancer. The choreography was basically us chasing her around and trying to step on her. She got nervous and I was asked to step in. I wore the wings and the antennae and brown tights, and I was hooked!
Career highlight to date?
Two things: The Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration and starring in SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE and working with Sondheim; as well as meeting Michel Legrand and working on the Broadway show AMOUR with him.
What roles would you most like to play?
Mother and wife forever.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
When I was a kid, my mom saw Marian Seldes at a restaurant and urged me to go up to her. I was about 11, and I went up to her and said "I want to be an actress, what do I DO?" and she turned to me and said (in her deep melodious and kind voice) "LIVE."
What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
Dropping all the glasses when I walked into my father's death scene in LES MISERABLES. I was Cosette, and Jean Valjean was dying and I walk in with his water to comfort him in Act 2. I dropped it all, and there was glass everywhere and all these crew members had to rush out on stage (they were dressed like French peasants but they looked weird) and they all had dust busters and were vacuuming all around me while I sang.
What is the most annoying part about your job?
Having critics come to only one performance. I think they should come like restaurant critics and see a few performances. It is impossible to not feel some pressure on the nights that lead up to opening night, and sometimes its hard to handle and just keep yourself focused and loving and free in your work, and not get distracted. But by and large, being an actress is not something I would ever call ANNOYING. I am so thankful to theater for defining my life. I would not know what to make of life without it. It has given me everything. And now with children, I am so extremely excited to share it with them.
Briefly tell us how you become involved with CANDIDA?
Tony Walton has known me since I was in my early 20s and designed BUSKER ALLEY, which I was originally the star of with Tommy Tune. Tony became a great supporter and mentor of mine, and eventually cast me in his wildly successful directorial debuts: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST and then MAJOR BARBARA. In those days, he kept saying to Charlotte Moore, the artistic director of the Irish Repertory, that I would be a perfect Candida someday. So, he's been brewing this for over a decade. Last summer, he asked me to read "a Strange and Eventful History" about Ellen Terry, and consider doing CANDIDA in the autumn as my return to theater post-babies. But then, I was cast in WHITE CHRISTMAS so they postponed and it all worked out. I am so grateful.
Briefly tell us about the character you play in CANDIDA?
She is a mostly-very-happy mother and a wife, and her husband is a great unconventional thinker and preacher. She sees in the young poet a chance to have a sort of "project" and teach him about ideals of love and passion and sensuality. She doesn't see him as an affair, or something where she is deceiving her husband or planning to leave her marriage. She is excited to do something progressive in her life and she does think her husband will come along with her. (Think themes of Havelock Ellis a little, the early Fabian.) But Marchbanks is winding Morell up in scenes Candida is not in, and so Morell gets more jealous and paranoid than was necessary. In the end, the project runs away a bit and reveals more about her than she at first realized, and turns the marriage upside down. Ultimately, the marriage is deepened (in understanding) but it's not going to be the very same anymore. Hopefully it will be better. I think Candida needs more from her husband and finishes the play in a frame of mind of total yearning for him physically and emotionally, as well as deepened self-awareness.
If you had not become a performer, what might you have done instead?
I might have joined the circus. Literally. I thought I would enjoy that.
Who are your favorite actors/actresses?
Jessica Lang, Susan Sarandon, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would you say to them?
I would like to meet Isadora Duncan and tell her she opened my mind when I was a young dancer and college student.
Favorite after-show haunts?
My bathtub. Oh yes I also like Sala on 19th Street. I'm a major tapas fan.
What was the last book you read, and name some of your favorite authors?
"Buddhism and Motherhood" is my current book. And "The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness" was my most recent.
What was the last film you saw, and name some of your favorite movies?
"Dead Man Walking." "The Notebook." The last movie I saw was "Julie & Julia," and I loved it because while we were watching it (at home), my husband literally got inspired and quickly poached an egg and put in on toast and brought it to me with a little salt on it. He did just what they said was so hard to do! On his first attempt!!
Favorite TV programs?
I watched every episode of "24" when I was pregnant with Victoria. I ADORED IT. Since children, I have not had time for television other than "Curious George"...
Favorite holiday destinations?
San Juan is a nice place to go and easy to get to with three kids. We don't travel yet -- everyone is too small! Three kids under 3!
Do you have any hobbies?
I used to be a real crafty girl and did make wreaths of dried flowers and leaves and berries. Now I only do that for Christmastime. My hobbies now are tangled up with my toddler: making necklaces and painting cardboard boxes to make a house, for example...
Do you have any superstitions?
I just learned that you mustn't cross someone on the stairs. This is very strictly enforced at the Irish Rep. Did you know that one!?
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
Diana, Juliette and Victoria. (I'd sneak my husband into a little treasure chest, too!)
What are your future plans?
To worry even less about everything. It seems like every year, I learn more and more that you can't control anything. Embrace it!