That love affair began years ago (I won’t tell you how many) when I was a junior at DeSales University and got to tackle Felicia Dantine, the loud-mouthed, real-estate psychic, for the first time. The opportunity was a coveted one. The play itself only offered six roles, mighty small for such a competitive program. More than that, it was the last student production beloved professor Patrick Mulcahy was going to direct before going to take over as Artistic Director of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Patrick was (and is) revered by the students. His acting resume boasts the sort of credits an actor dreams of, including the New York Shakespeare Festival (known more commonly as “Shakespeare in the Park”), and yet he was (and is) easily approachable and nurturing as a teacher. I still remember the day the cast list went up, I remember seeing my name and my good friend and roommate’s name, Kim Carson, and I remember the squeals of delight and happy dances that followed. More clearly than that, I remember the first day of blocking rehearsal when Patrick looked at me and said, “You’ve got one goal: keep him in the room” and then looked at the actor playing Andrew and said, “You’ve got one goal: get out of the room” and set us loose, giving us total freedom to follow our impulses and go after the stakes. Almost all of what we found – a lazzi over one box being passed back and forth -made its way into the final production to great success.  It was so empowering, as a young actor, to be so trusted, to have one’s instincts validated and respected. Our breaks during rehearsal were filled with stories of Patrick’s experience at Shakespeare in the Park and other theatrical exploits. By now you’ve got the point: this experience was special. But it wouldn’t have been so if the material itself – the play – was no good. The joy of performing a play that so exuberantly embraced its theatricality, which was unafraid of grabbing a laugh, which poked fun at Shakespeare while celebrating his genius was sheer bliss. Add to that the fact that performing this play was the first time I heard an audience absolutely roar with laughter.  I mean, couldn’t-hear-my-scene-partner kind of laughter. Moving an audience like that is what an actor lives for.  I’m so excited to share this play with our audience at MT. I hope it’s the start of a love affair of your own. 

-Jessica Bedford

A Conversation with THE PHILLY FAN'S Tom McCarthy

Montgomery Theater is currently playing host to Tom McCarthy’s The Philly Fan. The one-man show is a comical love...

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