Actress Barbara McBain is well known across the Valley, having appeared in a multiple of roles at numerous theatres in the Phoenix area since moving to town over 25 years ago. Most recently on stage as the Quiltmaker in The Quiltmaker's Gift at Theater works, she also appeared in the past two seasons in Driving Miss Daisy and Shrek at Desert Stages Theatre; The Full Monty and Oliver! at Mesa Encore Theatre; as well as performing in the musical Ruthless, which opened the new Hormel Theatre at Phoenix Theatre in September 2013.
McBain has also appeared in commercials and independent films and this week she is featured in Durant's Never Closes, which focuses on famous Phoenix restaurateur Jack Durant, who may or may not have been involved with the mafia. The film stars Tom Sizemore and Peter Bogdanovich and was written and directed by Phoenix filmmaker Travis Mills. The world premiere is tonight with screenings starting tomorrow in Phoenix as well as showings of the film rolling out in various cinemas in cities across the U.S. over the coming weeks.
Born in New York, raised in California, but now calling Phoenix home, McBain is also a realtor and avid theatre lover and she took a break in her busy schedule to sit down to answer the PHX Stages Q/A:
Name: Barbara McBain
Where you were born and or raised: Born in Schenectady, New York. (Fun one to spell!) Raised in Palos Verdes Estates, California. Went to Denison University in Granville, ohio
What brought you to Arizona? Moved from New York with my (ex) husband and kids in 1987 for a job
What your parents did/do for a living: Dad was an Insurance man and Mom was a stay-at-home Mom (She didn’t mind the term housewife at all- she was proud of it). After Dad retired they owned Walker’s Gifts in Carefree.
Siblings: I have one brother named Jim Walker, married to Romina.
Family/Children: I have two wonderful boys, Walker and Graham, and now a beautiful daughter-in-law Alissa. Walker lives in Brooklyn with his girlfriend Liz and Graham and Alissa live in Denver.
Day job/part time job: I have been a Realtor for 21 years. Want to buy a house?
First show you ever saw: My first show I saw was The Music Man—I think in Long Beach.
The one performance you attended that you will never forget: I got to see Joel Gray in Cabaret and Jerry Orbach in 42nd Street on Broadway. Oh—and Helen Hayes in Right You Are if You Think You Are.
First stage kiss: as Ella Peterson in Bells are Ringing in High School
|with Al Lowe in Driving Miss Daisy|
Desert Stages Theatre - 2013
Photo: Heather Butcher
Most challenging role you have played onstage? I think it has to have been Rashomon at Phoenix Little Theatre many years ago.
Leading role you've been dying to play: Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd
Leading role of the opposite sex you wish you could play: Hmmm—Sancho Panza or Fagin
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Brush my teeth! Superstitions: I don’t whistle backstage and if someone says “Good Luck” I make them say “Break a leg”
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: The first time I did Barefoot in the Park ,
(I have played the daughter and the mother), I was supposed to take my sweater off to try to get my husband’s attention. My bra came undone and I had to pretend to do something outside the apartment, hook my bra and then return to the stage. My stage husband was so confused!
Worst costume ever: It wasn’t bad costuming—it fit the character, but in The
Spitifre Grill at Phoenix Theatre I wore pull-on pants made out of polyester .But I also got to wear my Dad’s old sweater.
|Beauty and the Beast|
Desert Stages Theatre - 2006
Your go to audition monologue/song: I try to fit the song to the audition, but I love “As if We Never Said Goodbye”from Sunset Boulevard and “Jeanette’s Show Business Number” from The Full Monty. I like “Rest in Peace” as a monologue.
Worst audition experience: I was sent out for a Legg’s Pantyhose Commercial in LA. Everyone else in the room was at least 5’9”. (I am 5’3”) I walked into the room and said, ”Am I the before?”---Didn’t get the job.
Famous past stage or screen star(s) you would have loved to have performed with: They don’t have to be dead, right? Michael Caine, Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones,Maggie Smith
Your personal acting idols: Maggie Smith, Dustin Hoffman, Audra McDonald Brian Dennehy
Current/recent show other than one of your own you have been recommending
to friends: We have seen so many—we really enjoyed Man of La Mancha at Theaterworks . We are also loving the shows from the All Puppet Players.
Most listened song/music on your iPod/Phone?: Classic Rock
|McBain as "B.J." in Durant's Never Closes - 2016|
Last good book you read: I like Elizabeth George and Phillipa Gregory
Must-see TV show: Love NCIS
Guilty pleasure binge watching tv show: Project Runway
Last good movie you saw: Duh, Star Wars
Favorite restaurant in the Valley: Z Tejas, Roaring Fork
Favorite cities: New York, New York, New York,oh, and New York
Something about you that might surprise people: I once sold a town!
Worst non-theatre job you've had: Making little electronic thingies on an assembly line. I was saving money to go to TWA training.
Best non-theatre job you've had: motherhood, then real estate
Three things you can't live without: Family, friends, water, Pinot Grigio—oops the is four.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Enjoy the ride
What you love most about theatre in Phoenix: Very close-knit and friendly group
What you think needs to be changed/improved/different about theatre in Phoenix: More money— more variety, but that needs more money
Phoenix Theatre - 2013
1. What is your favorite word? love
2. What is your least favorite word? closure or hubby
3. What turns you on? Mornings
4. What turns you off? Rude people
5. What sound do you love? Either a cat’s purr or the beep when the coffee is ready—depends on the time of the day
6. What sound do you hate? shut up
7. What is your favorite curse word? who, moi?
8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Grandmother!
9. What profession would you not like to do? I couldn’t be a bill collector.
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “I’ve heard a lot about you!!!”
CLICK HERE for information on Durant's Never Closes.