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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Spotlight on Mary Frances Dini

By • Mar 20th, 2009 • Category: Interviews
Rehearsal for Murder
Providence Players
James Lee Community Center, Falls Church, VA
$15/$12 Seniors and Students
Playing through April 4th

Listen to the interview with Mary Frances Dini. [MP3 6:49 6.2MB]

Mike: This is Mike Clark with Show Biz Radio and I am backstage at a Rehearsal for Rehearsal For Murder with Providence Players. I am talking with Mary Frances Dini who is playing two roles. she is both Loretta the stage manager and a female detective. Thank you for talking with me today.

Mary Frances: Thank you very much.

Mike: So, what does Loretta the stage manager do with this show?

Mary Frances Dini as the Female DetectiveMary Frances: In this show Loretta the stage manager does what any general stage manger would do: She calls the lights of the show, calls the time for curtain, makes sure everything is running on time, and she knows everybody in the show. The actors, the playwrite, the director so she is keeping track of things and making sure everything is moving.

Mike: What do you do as the female detective?

Mary Frances: As the female detective I do what any detective would do. I interrogate witnesses to crimes.

Mike: So how are the two characters alike? Have you had to struggle to keep the personas different?

Mary Frances: Yes, I’ve had a lot of struggles to keep them different, but that makes for a challenge in a show which actually makes doing a show exciting. I think doing two roles is even more exciting because you have to differentiate between the two. When you come on even though they may look the same, you have to do something which appears to be two totally different people.

Mike: What types of things have you tried that keeps them separate?

Mary Frances: My two big things between Loretta and the detective are going back and forth between Loretta being very anxious, wanting to keep things moving, very fast paced. Always in motion. As opposed to the female detective who spends more time contemplating what’s being said and what she’s viewing. So she’s much more relaxed taking in everything around her as opposed to pushing things forward and keeping things moving.

Mike: Are the two characters like or unlike you?

Mary Frances Dini as LorettaMary Frances: I would say, depending on the time of day, They are like me. Loretta is more like me in that I tend to be fidgety and need to keep moving to keep myself busy. However, the female detective, the calm side sitting back and listening to my surroundings is sometimes what I do as a teacher when I’m watching my students. I am an elementary school teacher so there are a lot of times I spend time just sitting back trying to figure out what’s going on with my students by what they do in class and what’s happening. So I have to sit back, watch and take things in. Because I teach elementary school I am like Loretta in that I am always on the go running around keeping things moving.

Mike: What grades do you teach?

Mary Frances: I teach kindergarten through sixth grade. So I see everyone in our school. I teach music.

Mike: And you had mentioned that your kids new you were auditioning. Have they been begging you to know what’s going on in the show or how has that been working?

Mary Frances: They asked me at the beginning what the show was about and I gave them a little bit of a background because I didn’t want to give too much away. They were excited to know, my sixth graders in particular, that I was performing in a show because I am directing them and choreographing a show at our school right now. We are doing School House Rock. So I am able to share my experiences in this show with them as they prepare for their show. And I am not only able to share with them what I have learned and what they can use in their performance, but they are able to see not only am I a school teacher, but I share a similarity with them, we share similar interests and our excitement for the theater.

Mike: Do sixth graders get theater or do they just think it’s a fun thing?

Mary Frances: Some of the sixth graders really get theater because they have performed in local community shows themselves. Some of them started back as early as kindergarten. Others just think of it as either a fun time on stage and a fun time to do other things with their friends. And of course there are the few who would rather not sing in front of their friends, but because it is a big community effort everyone has been having a great time putting it together.

Mike: Does that translate into adults playing theater on community theater, we are getting together and having fun.

Mary Frances: Oh yes, definitely. Doing community theater is a big social outlet. It’s where I’ve met the majority of the people I know here in the DC area since I’ve lived here. The old saying about teachers being the worst students is probably true because at our rehearsals at least I get in trouble for talking all the time just like my students do.

Mike: What other groups have you worked with?

Mary Frances: I’ve worked with The Arlington Players, Little Theatre of Alexandria, Rockville Musical Theatre, and British Embassy Players. I’ve done mostly musicals. This is only the second straight play I’ve done and my previous straight play was with Providence Players as well. We did Saturday, Sunday, Monday last season.

Mike: So do you prefer musicals?

Mary Frances: Not right now. I’m actually really enjoying doing straight plays because you focus more on your individual character. In many of the musicals I’ve done there were a few musicals I had small roles in. The most I was in the chorus or assisted as the dance captain. So we sang and danced which I loved, but we did not focus so much on developing our own individual character. Whereas in a show such as this, where there are only approximately ten of us in a show, whatever character you are you really need to create and portray to the audience as opposed to being a choruster.

Mike: So if someone wanted to get started, how should they get started with doing theater?

Mary Frances: With doing local theater?

Mike: Yeah.

Mary Frances: If you are interested in being on stage just look in the paper, check on the internet for local theater auditions and go out and start auditioning. Sometimes that is the first thing. I don’t know if that is called ‘jumping on the horse’ or whatever that statement is , but you just have to get out there and get over your fears if you’re nervous about auditioning and just keep auditioning for places. Sometimes the best thing to do if you have any interest in theater, contact any local theater such as the Providence Players and let them know where your interest lies. If you would like to help out with ushering, box office, makeup, costumes, anything. They would love to have new people come on. For the last show here or a couple shows back, when we did Steel Magnolias, I assisted in makeup for the show. So you get not only a lot of experience, but as I said before, you meet tons of people.

Mike: Okay, well thank you very much I appreciate you taking the time.

Mary Frances: Thank you for having me.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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