Thursday, January 21, 2016

PHX Stages Q/A: Barbara McBain

by Gil Benbrook

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
Best stage experience you’ve had so far acting?  this is really hard.  I have had so many. I have never had a bad time in a show. Each show has new experiences on and off stage and is full of relationships old and new. I love playing Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret, (I have played her 4 times), but I guess the one that has touched me most is playing Daisy in Driving Miss Daisy at DST. Al Lowe, Jeff Carpenter and I worked so well with our director Mark-Alan C. Clemente and the reaction from the audience was so warm and touching—people crying and hugging us after the show. Latest: I had a blast playing the Quiltmaker in The Quiltmaker’s Gift. Also, for 10 years I wrote and directed a fundraiser called STAAR NIGHT for The Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors. We performed it at The Scottsdale Center for the Arts—and 1 year at The Orpheum!.  We raised about $500,000.00 for our colleagues who have financial problems.

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
Best costume ever:   My Mrs. Potts’ costume in Beauty and the Beast!  

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
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:  How about a 45??!!! It was “Catch a Falling Star” by Perry Como

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
And, the “Inside the Actors Studio” 10 questions:
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.

1 comment:

  1. I will never forget the thrill and honor to have worked with you in my brief fling at acting! Thank you and all the best, Barb!

    With Love and Respect,
    Al Lowe