Read Shockya's exclusive interview with stage and independent film actress Tanna Frederick, who’s set to reprise her role of Pandora Isaacs in the upcoming film ‘Just 45 Minutes from Broadway.’ She originally portrayed Pandora in the stage version in 2009 at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Los Angeles. The film follows Pandora as she has to move back in with her parents, who are both successful stage actors, after her latest relationship ends. However, her sister Betsy has no interest in the family business, and moves to start her own life. Frederick discusses with us, among other things, why she wanted to reprise her role in the film, and what she finds so appealing about theater.
Shockya (SY): In the upcoming drama ‘Just 45 Minutes from Broadway,’ you’re set to reprise the role of Pandora Isaacs. What initially attracted you to Pandora before you appeared in the play, and why did you want to reprise the role in the film?
Tanna Frederick (TF): I think Henry Jaglom is a prolific playwright. The Actors Studio Harold Clurman had told Henry that he had the new voice of the modern American playwright, and I love the way his work feels. The cadences of his dialogue, the absurd reality of the characters and of course the subject matter. Of show people, show folk- whose lifespans have consisted of generations of theatre in this case, vaudeville, that subject matter is lovely, deep and moving for me personally. I had gone away to the Iowa Independent Film Festival. Upon my return, Henry told me he had penned a play in a four day time period that had echoes of his film ‘Last Summer in the Hamptons.’ He read it to me and Ron Vignone and by the end, our jaws had dropped and I was blown away. Henry finished the play in the two weeks that followed and we began casting. I liked my character of Panda, a woman who has decided to stop apologizing for her idiosyncrasies and flaws and move back in with her family in ramshackeled family home, “just 45 minutes from Broadway.” I also loved the conflict between “show folk” and “civilians.” I thought Henry had written it in a delightful, yet truthfully eerie, manner, symbolized by the conflict between the character of my sister, played by Julie David, and I. We ran the play for close to a year at The Edgemar Center for the Arts. The cast became like family and the audience kept coming to see us after the shows to tell Henry he had to make this into his next movie. I had always wanted to do a play that was adapted to a film where I played the character in both, and so it worked out wonderfully.
SY: Did you prepare for the role any differently before you began filming the movie, as opposed to when you portrayed Pandora on-stage?
TF: No, to stay true to the character I did the same preparation. The only difference was we had cast Judd Nelson as the lead man opposite myself so the chemistry was a little different. Other than that, it was pretty remarkable how the performances transferred themselves from stage to screen.
SY: Pandora moves back in with her parents, who are both successful stage actors, after her latest long-term romance fails. Can you relate to any of her personal dilemmas?
TF: Yes. Her parents were “successful” in the sense that they had no qualms about going after what they loved and reveling in the life of theatre. I think that’s an important message that it’s difficult for artists to keep close to their hearts; that success come from the “doing” of versus the acquiring of… It comes from the history of ones relationship to their art, not what fortune or fame may have been gained from acknowledgment their art by the commercial world.
SY: Pandora’s sister Betsy, who’s played by Julie Davis, has no interest in show business, and moves away from the family to start a life on her own. Why do you think some people don’t connect with the lifestyles their family members have come to love and embrace?
TF: Probably rebellion or the need to expand their own horizons. For example, my grand parents on my mother’s side were farmers; my mother became a nursing professor. Both of my parents were in the medical field (my father is a pharmacist), but my brother and I took a different route. He graduated from a Buddhist college; he studied English and is a writer, and I became an actress. I was lucky because my parents encouraged us to explore different areas than the ones they had conquered. Or perhaps the kids hated what their parents did. But I’d prefer to look on the flip side that they would like to journey into unknown territory.
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