The Daily Gazette 04-27-2009

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Daily Gazette article
Monday, April 27, 2009

By Bill Buell

Q&A: Improv actress Brenny Rabine back to rehearsing for Cap Rep play

Brenny Rabine of Saratoga Springs, right, plays Catherine the maid in the Capital Rep production “Boston Marriage.” Also in the three-woman cast are Jessica Wortham, reclining, and Lisa Bostnar, seen in mirror.

Improv is just as challenging and at times a bit scarier than “regular” theater, according to Brenny Rabine. It’s also, and this is the important part, less time-consuming.

As the mother of a young child, rehearsal wasn’t a word Rabine wanted to hear. As a result, since the birth of her son, Nolan, 10 years ago, she found herself drifting more toward improvisational theater. She has performed with the Mop & Bucket Company, an improvisational troupe whose home venue is 440 Upstairs at Proctors, and has also worked with Koppett & Company, a group that teaches corporate employees how improvisational theatre techniques can enhance creativity, teamwork and leadership in the workplace.

She is, however, back on stage doing “regular” theater, making her Capital Repertory Theatre debut in that company’s production of David Mamet’s “Boston Marriage.” The play is in previews, opens Wednesday night and runs through May 17.

‘Boston Marriage’

WHERE: Capital Repertory

Theatre, 111 N. Pearl St., Albany

WHEN: Previews 2:30 p.m. today and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; opens Wednesday and runs through May 17

HOW MUCH: Previews $32-$15, regular performances, $44-$34


Rabine grew up in the town of Saratoga and went to South Glens Falls High School, performing for the first time in her sixth-grade class production of “Rumplestiltskin.” She continued to do theater and study the discipline in school, but her degree from Hamilton College in 1988 was in English literature. She then got her teaching certificate at Siena College and a master’s degree in composition studies from the University at Albany.

Her appearance at Capital Rep is her first traditional theater since she was in “Wait Until Dark” at Home Made Theater in Saratoga Springs 10 years ago. She has more recently done staged readings with Theater Voices, and her resume also includes earlier performances at Albany Civic Theater, the Leatherstocking Theatre Company and Stage Three at Siena College.

When she’s not performing or taking care of her son, she enjoys fly fishing with her husband, Dale. When her gig with Capital Rep is up, Rabine will resume her improv duties, and this summer she is scheduled to perform in “Old Love” at the Lake George Dinner Theater.

Q: What was it about improvisational theater that appealed to you?

A: I actually got into it for practical reasons, and honestly, it was the no-rehearsing part I liked. I’m a mom, my son is now 10, and I’ve wanted to be home with him. But I have to say that improv really helped grow my acting skills and really challenged me, without doing the 48 hours a week of rehearsal. Then, I discovered that improv is its own amazing world. Yeah, it can be scary. Some people bungee jump, and other people get up on stage without a script, without rehearsal, without a plan.

Q: Why were you interested in “Boston Marriage?”

A: I felt like it was a good time to send a head shot and my resume over there, and I had the great fortune of getting called in. I auditioned and I got another call offering me the part. It’s a dream come true. I love Cap Rep and I think [producing artistic director] Maggie [Mancinelli-Cahill) does a great job. It was just the right time for me, but also after reading the play, I found it so funny and witty. The relationships among the women are so complicated and human. I was really happy that I got the part.

Q: What has the experience been like so far, particularly working with actors like Lisa Bostnar and Jessica Wortham, two women with vast New York City experience on their resumes?

A: Jessica and Lisa are both brilliant. They are also funny and inspired, endlessly creative, and they’re as kind as they are talented. The director [Terence LaMude] also has a wonderful eye for comedic opportunities, and he lets me know when I’m a little too much over the top. Terry is a great story teller.

Q: What is your favorite play?

A: Right now, I’m in love with [the winner of five 2008 Tonys] “August: Osage County.” I’m only in love with it on paper because I’ve read it, but I haven’t seen it yet. But I think it’s brilliant, and it’s going to be canonized, and we’ll remember it the way we remember [Eugene] O’Neill. It’s about the tragedy of an American family. Locally, I was blown away by Capital Rep’s production of “Taming of the Shrew.” I just thought all the elements worked perfectly. Maggie directed it and she’s the real deal.

Q: You’ve also written two plays; “Catching Babies” and “Santa’s List,” and you’ve also directed. In a perfect world, would you be an actor, director or a playwright?

A: I’d be all three. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to choose and I’d find the time for all three. Right now I’m a little more connected to my acting, and while I love working with Capital Rep and I’m excited about Lake George this summer, Mop & Bucket is my home. I’m not going to stop because I feel like I have family there. I feel like it’s really helped my scripted acting, my awareness of the other actors on stage and my spontaneity. My acting muscles are well-tuned because of improv.

Q: What is working for Koppett & Company like?

A: We help companies and organizations that are looking to make their people perform more spontaneously and creatively. It’s kept me quite busy the past four years or so and I really enjoy the challenge of teaching. We work with people doing training games, helping them to improve and exercise their improv muscles. It’s very rewarding.

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