BARBARA BAIN'S MEN
Meet the Actors Who Work with Bain in LOVE STRUCK at Beverly Hills Playhouse
By Adryan Russ
There is a terrific cast of 17 in rehearsal for LOVE STRUCK, which opens at The Beverly Hills Playhouse tonight, May 11th and runs for only three weeks. Several men are working with the iconic Barbara Bain, and we were curious to know how they're enjoying the process. Their passion for this work is clear.
Nick Ullett, who plays an old flame of Barbara's character in "Matchmade," the one-act in which he stars with her, says, "I have always been a fan of Barbara's, since (TV's original) 'Mission Impossible.' Therefore, working with her is simply a gift. I wander around telling people: "I'm gonna work with Barbara Bain!
"In 'Matchmade' there is one moment where I say to her: 'Let's just meet each other where we are, and not who we were.' I think that's a pretty good rule for life as well as being a particularly well-written line. Working with Barbara is working with an actor with a long history and the way in which she prepares has allowed me to slow down and find the character in a way that is new for me. Working, at her pace, allows me the time to fine-tune and clarify moments that I usually rush past in my hurry to 'get up on my feet.' She really has shown me a new way of approaching a character. She's my greatest pleasure, second only to my wife, Jenny O'Hara."
Peter Van Norden
Says Peter Van Norden, "I met Barbara about two years ago. We did a reading together of a play called "Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood" (by Mark Saltzman). I played John Barrymore. I've also known her through the Blank Theatre Company where we both have supported young playwrights, but we'd never actually worked together. When you work with someone like Barbara, who's been in the business for as long as she has, the first thing you notice is the commitment to professionalism – everything she does is geared toward making the piece a better piece, the show a better show, the rehearsal a better rehearsal. Everything is pointed toward a professional result. You can sense the years of commitment and hard work and how it pays off.
"After that, you realize that there is also an emotional commitment to the whole art form. It's not just about one theme, one character – the way you approach it technically. It's really about making the art form important. If you approach your work with an emotional intensity and involvement, as she does, people see the fact that these plays matter – they say something. That's what's truly inspiring -- working with a person who has dedicated her entire life to an art form – to the idea that there is such a thing as a performing art – the idea that there are people who can make choices and play characters. In other words, if you need someone to play a truck driver, and you go out and hire a real truck driver, you are doing the antithesis of a performing art. What you need to do is hire an actor who can make choices about what it means to be a truck driver – and you will get something more meaningful as a result. That's how Barbara works – and she is still totally not only committed to this performing art, but also passionate and excited by it. She makes you feel that you are doing something worthwhile.