By Bessy Reyna
SPAMALOT AT CONNECTICUT REPERTORY THEATRE
The play Spamalot, to be produced by the Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) is the reason why actress and singer Mariand Torres is sharing her artistic and musical talents with theater lovers in Connecticut. The play Spamalot, based on the 1975 film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, won the prestigious Tony Award as best musical comedy with book and lyrics by Eric Idle, music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle. Spamalot, has been selected as the final show of CRT’s 2015-2016 season. Also leading the cast is Richard Kline, well-known actor from the TV series Three’s Company. Kline was also in the tour of Wicked in the role of the Wizard, in the touring company in which Torres had the lead role as the Wicked Green Witch Elphaba.
Like all of the Monty Phyton’s plays, this one if funny, very silly and irreverent. This British group became a sensation when their programs produced by the BBC, were shown in USA television. Spamalot is the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as they search for the Holy Grail. On the way they encounter many real and imagined monsters including a murderous rabbit.
The show is directed by Richard Ruiz, a graduate of the MFA Acting program at the University of Connecticut. Performances will be held in the Harriet S. Jorgenson Theatre, located behind Jorgensen Auditorium, from April 21 – May 1, 2016. For tickets and information please visit crt.uconn.edu or call (860) 486-2113. Children under 4 years of age will not be admitted.
IN CONVERSATION WITH ACTRESS MARIAND TORRES
Even though Torres has returned recently from Japan, where she took part in the National Tour of Prince of Broadway, directed by legendary director Harold Prince and co-directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, and she is now rehearsing for her role as Lady of the Lake in “Spamalot” she was generous enough with her time to grant us this interview and to share some information about her life and career with the readers of www.CTLatinoNews.com. I would like to thank Matthew J. Pugliese, Managing Director, of the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at the University of Connecticut in Storrs for facilitating this interview.
BR: Where are your parents from?
MT: De la Republica Dominicana. I was also born there. My grandparents lived with us pretty much most of life, and I grew up in Miami, so Spanish was, of course, the language spoken at home. (And everywhere in Miami)
BR: When did you become interested in acting and singing?
MT: Not until high school! I used to sing a lot around the house when I was little and my family would always tell me I had a pretty voice but I didn’t start to really take it seriously until I joined my high school choir.
BR: Your first play or concert? What memories you have about that experience?
MT: When I was in the 2nd grade, a local Opera company came to our school to perform a
children show for us-It was Hansel And Gretel. I remember being completely entranced. After the show, a man with a camera asked me for my name and age. I gave it to him and thought nothing of it. The following morning, my mom opened the local paper, the Miami Paper, to find a huge picture of my awestruck face while watching the show on the front face of the Neighbors section. The other kids in the background were all yawning or sleeping, and I was in awe-eyes wide open-completely still. It must have caught the camera man’s eye. I can’t believe it took me so long after that experience to realize that theatre and performing were a true passion for me.
BR: Do you have a favorite composer, musicals?
MT: Stephen Sondheim, John LaChiusa, Lin-Manuel Miranda
Favorite musicals: Into the Woods, Giant, West Side Story, and I know this is an obvious answer because of how popular it is right now, but Hamilton. It really, truly is a masterpiece created by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
BR: If you have participated in different stages, do you have a favorite one?
MT: In 2013 I was a part of the original cast of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, off-broadway. The show is set in an immersive space- meaning it doesn’t happen on an actual stage, but around the audience. The producers built a pop-up theatre in a huge tent which modeled after a Russian SupperClub. Getting to be a part of something so innovative was thrilling, and just witnessing the audience’s reaction to our show and our gorgeous theatre/set was so amazing.
BR: Aside from theatrical productions or concerts have you also worked on movies and TV?
MT: I had a small part on an episode of Madam Secretary. I’ve focused a lot on theatre, and one of my goals is definitely to start pursuing TV/Film more.
BR: Do you have a preference as to the type of work you do?
MT: Music is where my heart is- so I always prefer musical theatre.
BR: You were part of Wicked, one of the most popular musicals. How was touring with that play?
MT: A dream come true! I saw the original cast a few months after the show opened on Broadway and never imagined I’d actually get to do that show. Audiences love it and are so moved by Elphaba’s story. It was amazing to get to sing Defying Gravity on that actual set and not just in my shower!
BR: What is your next project
MT: As of now, I have some concert work lined up. I’m auditioning a lot so we will see what comes after that. I’m also a certified yoga instructor and plan on continuing my yoga education and hoping to teach more frequently.
BR: What do you do for fun?
MT: I love to cook! And try new restaurants! My boyfriend and I are both very passionate about food and trying new types of cuisine, and New York is a perfect place for that. We also just got a puppy, so lately our free time revolves around playing and taking naps with her!
BR: Thanks so much for spending this time with us. Wishing you great success in Spamalot and in your work in the future. Can’t wait to see the show.
Bessy Reyna is a member of the CT Theatre Critics’ Circle. (www.bessyreyna.com)