THE ACTORS WORKSHOP OF HOUSTON
Michael Sullivan, Artistic Director
COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA
Directed by Eileen T. Colleton
Suzanne King...........Mrs. Kauffman
John Outtrim..........Mailman, Ed
Jennifer Lynn Rogers..........Marie
William M. Shepherd..........Milkman, Elmo
Michael L. Sullivan..........Doc Delaney
Bob Thornton..........W. Union boy, Bruce
September 12 - October 4, 1997
The Actors Workshop announces the opening of the first production of their 1997 - 1998 season, COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA by William Inge.
A Broadway hit of the 1950s, this touching drama concerns a couple coming to terms with the ghost of their past and the alcoholism that plagues their present. Shirley Booth created the role of Lola on Broadway and won an academy award for her performance in the film version.
The founder and the former Artistic Director for The Actors Workshop was Karen Douglas, who retired after 13 years. Michael Sullivan took over about 2 years ago, for the 14th and the 15th season. This is the start of the 16th season. They have shows on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Every run is about 14 shows and they are dark for about 1 to 2 weeks.
Michael Sullivan has been a native Houstonian for 20 years. He has attended schools all over the country, and graduated from UH with a degree in Theater. He calls Come Back Little Sheba, An American Classic. The Actors Workshop is located at 1009 Chartres at Lamar, behind the George R. Brown Convention Center. Phone 713-236-1844 for reservations.
INTERVIEW WITH EILEEN T. COLLETON
Director of Come Back Little Sheba at the Actors Workshop
by Theresa Hyde
Come Back Little Sheba is Eileen T. Colletons directorial debut. She has been an Assistant Director for quite a few plays. Her theatrical experience comes from working with Michael Sullivan, the current Artistic Director and with Karen Douglas, previously. Having been in several plays at The Actors Workshop, she has also done a few benefits at the Majestic Metro downtown, and at the West Gray Center.
THYDE: Can you tell us a little bit about this play youre directing?
ECOLLETON: Its a drama. Its a family that is struggling with a recovering alcoholic, the husband, and how he copes with life everyday, and what sets him off to go back to a binge. Its a story of a husband and wife.
THYDE : Any kids in the family?
ECOLLETON: She was pregnant, and she lost the baby. So because of losing the baby, she hasnt been able to have any more. And theyve taken on a boarder, a young girl, who would probably be the age of their daughter, if she would have lived.
THYDE: Is it a very deep, emotional drama?
ECOLLETON: Yeah, theres very little light points in it. Its basically a major drama.
THYDE: Are you excited about your directorial debut?
ECOLLETON: Oh, yes, its been an eye opener. I thought, being an Assistant Director, I would pretty much know what the director had to go through and everything, but its real different. Theres a lot more stress, a lot more things you have to worry about, such as finding the actors.
THYDE: Did you go to school for directing?
ECOLLETON: Kinda On-The-Job Training
THYDE: What kind of qualities do you admire most in other directors?
THYDE: Do you like directing dramas more?
ECOLLETON: Not necessarilly. Comedies, actually are a little bit more difficult to do. But I like it when people are able to bring out the best in a character, or in the actor. And to let them feel comfortable. Like this crew, I brought them in and said, You know what youre supposed to do. Act for me. I dont want to have to give them a whole lot of direction, unless theres a particular way that I want a scene to go.
THYDE: What is your opinion of the content of the play? And why did you choose to direct this play?
ECOLLETON: Well, Michael (Sullivan) asked me to direct it. And I was kinda flattered that he asked me to do that. But when I read the script, its just so real, so down to earth. Its a pain that people are going through today, its not a dated material at all. People struggle with alcoholism all the time.
THYDE: I heard it was written in the 1950s and was made into a movie?
ECOLLETON: Shirley Booth played the lead in the movie. And Burt Lancaster played the alcoholic husband. Those are the two main characters.
THYDE: After the play has made its full run, what do you plan to do next?
ECOLLETON: Ive been asked to be in another play, to play a character in Dearly Departed. I played this character several years ago, and I was asked to play that character again. It was such a good time, were trying to get the original cast back together. Well be doing it hopefully, in Columbus, Texas maybe, were not real sure yet.
THYDE: What do you want the audience to gain from watching this play?
ECOLLETON: An appreciation for their family and what you go through, and that you can still be together even though theres troubles, if you hang in there and love one another.
THYDE: Yes, with everything thats happening, with the death of Princess Diana, and Mother Theresa. We realize that family is very important.
ECOLLETON: Well, just the divorce rate. I mean, today, not too many women would stay with an alcoholic man like that, you know thats constantly falling off the wagon. Thats what I hope they get. But there is something special about standing by someone whos going through some troubles. Alcoholics Anonymous goes by this statement:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
INTERVIEW WITH STEVE TERRANCE
AND JENNIFER LYNN ROGERS
Come Back Little Sheba at the Actors Workshop
by Theresa Hyde
Come Back Little Sheba is Steve Terrances second play at The Actors Workshop. His first part was as Melvin McMullen in the play, Cliffhanger, during February, 1997 under the direction of C. Jean Montgomery. He studied acting at The Chris Wilson Studios when he was 25, and was coached under Brandon Smith of The Actors Theater of Houston.
He has been acting for 2 years, and was a production assistant in Tin Cup with Kevin Costner. He was featured in A Woman of Independent Means with Sally Fields and Ron Silver during the wedding scene. He is in the Houston Film Commission as a production assistant. He has done production work, as an ASM, Assistant Stage Manager in the play, Educating Rita, under the direction of Brandon Smith.
THYDE: Tell us about your acting background.
STERRANCE: I started out with my stage acting debut on Cliffhanger as Melvin McMullen. Got my first critique, which was well-acted and well worth experiencing, so it was good. I played the lead bad guy, a 19 year-old manic depressive college student in the Midwest, Colorado. And he was a little off, to say the least.
THYDE: How did you get that part?
STERRANCE: It was my first read. I came up here, and sat down with C. Jean Montgomery, and I was kind of a Christian Slater-y she says.
THYDE: You are!!!(laughing). I recognized it but, I was trying to remember the name of the actor.
STERRANCE: Greetings and Salutations (Christian Slater impression). She saw something in my eyes, and said that I was kind of a manic depressive. Actually a lot of people who saw it, said that my acting style was very much like Christian Slaters.
Theres a little neat story about Cliffhanger - my first time on stage, live audience, its opening night, and I make my first entrance. Well, the wrong actor comes up to the door. It was Beverly Hutchison instead of Professor Lowenthal, so anyway, I had to go up on my first line, of my stage acting debut.....well he got hurt and was kinda slow getting up to there. Beverly had to run up and open the door, so I had to change my whole line.
I said, Mrs. Lowenthal, Im sorry to bust in. Is Professor Lowenthal in?. The line was supposed to be Professor Lowenthal, Im sorry to bust in.... (Laughing). C. Jean Montgomery tells that story all the time. Heres this young actor making a stage debut, and has to go up on his first line.....she said that after I covered that, she knew that I had what it would take.
THYDE: And you were in A Woman of Independent Means with Sally Fields?
STERRANCE: Yes. It was done in Galveston, in La Port, Texas. I didnt have a speaking role. It was an extra part. I went to Shanes night club, and they picked me out of all of Houston cattle call. And I came in there in my suit.....
THYDE: And you were also an Assistant Stage Manager in the play, Educating Rita?
STERRANCE: Yeah, Brandon Smith directed, and his wife, Kate Smith played in it, and had I think 13 dress changes. It was a 2-man play. That was my first time as a crew assistant, stage manager. Brandon Smith was my theater acting coach.
Right now, I am currently with Actors Etcetera of Texas and have gone on 3 movie auditions. I auditioned as Gordon for a movie called Rocket Man, which was first offered to Howie Long, the football player. I also had an audition for Stages, I was gonna be the narrator for The Velveteen Rabbit. Steve was the name of the character. But, it didnt work out with my time schedule.
THYDE: Tell us more about your character in this play Come Back Little Sheba.
STERRANCE: Turk, well hes in college, and he did a little time with the Navy. Hes kinda stuck on himself, very arrogant, very self assured. He does male modeling for Maries Art Class. We have this one scene where Turk is an athlete modeling for the students so they can draw up the muscles. So thats what that scene is.
THYDE: Marie is played by your half-sister, Jennifer Lynn Rogers.
STERRANCE: Jennifer is my half-sister who I just met April 19th of this year.
THYDE: Do you want to talk about how you met her?
STERRANCE: Yeah, sure. On April 9th or 10th I received a letter from my Aunt. It was a letter from the Catholic Social Services, the adoption agency saying that um, basically, your mothers looking for you. I knew I was adopted, I was adopted at 4 months in Michigan. I was born in Michigan, and when I was 4 years old, we moved to Houston, after my mom and my adoptive father, Paul Shubnell divorced.
THYDE: Do you want their names published on here?
STERRANCE: Oh, its fine. I give you permission (laughing). If they have a problem, they can come and see me. (more laughs) And, then, she moved with my stepfather, Terrance Harvey Collis, hes been deceased for about a year, and never got to see me perform. So, I took on the stage name Steve Terrance as a dedication to him because he never got to see me perform.
THYDE: So, your biological mom, got a hold of you?
STERRANCE: Well, 2 years prior, I wanted to know my medical background, if theres any chance of cancer or anything like that. Well, to make a long story short, they came and said, no, we dont have those documents. However, your mothers looking for you. So, I was totally blown away.
THYDE: How did you feel?
STERRANCE: I was shocked, that was not the thing I was looking for. I was just looking for some medical records, its what they call Non-Identifying Information, is what you get, when you get the paperwork from your adoptive Catholic agency.
So anyway, we got the letter, we were communicating back and forth on the phone through the Catholic services. She says, well I gave you permission to give him all my information. You give him my number and if he wants to call me, hell call me. So, we call, and needless to say, Jennifer and my biological mother, Linda, were in absolute tears. Jennifers been waiting for this moment since she was twelve. Because they never understood why on April 20th, since 1970 my mother would cry every year. This is my biological mother, Linda Rogers.
THYDE: Are there any other......?
STERRANCE: Siblings? Yes, Jason. And we all three look alike, my mother has a very dominant gene....because the eyes, the jawline, the small forehead, the little noses.....
THYDE: So you met on April 19th of this year.....?
STERRANCE: And on April 20th, I celebrated my 27th birthday.
THYDE: How was it?
STERRANCE: It was like a dream. It was like, um, I got a glimpse, and I saw this curly hair, and I didnt think anything of it, and then she went in and came up and, I saw her husband, which is Jennifer and Jasons father. JJs what I call him, thats my nickname for him. Jasons very conservative, unlike us, hes gonna be a pharmacist. And so, I get up there, walk up the stairs....and I was breaking up a sweat......
THYDE: What was the first thing you said?
STERRANCE: Hello. And we were crying, and we gave each other a hug for about five minutes. And then, at the corner of my eye, I see this......just.....it was me, in the female form. It was Jennifer Lynn Rogers. I just looked at her, and we just stared for like, 30 seconds, just kinda looking at each other, going....you look like me, I look like you.....we kinda just stared into each others eyes..... and then, on April 20th, we celebrated my 27th birthday, here in Houston, which has been her dream.
THYDE: Shes known about you since she was twelve?
STERRANCE: Yeah - Jennifer did, and has dreamt about meeting me. Jennifers 20 years old, were 7 years apart. She has been an actress in Detroit, shes been in a couple of musicals, and in high school. And then she did a spiritual tour, it was kind of a Christian Acting Group.
THYDE: Does she sing?
THYDE: Do you sing?
STERRANCE: No, I do not (laughing). I can not carry a tune, ......that part was not hereditary. She must get that from the Rogers side (laughing).....we plan to go to L.A. together after this performance, after we perform together.
This has changed both of our lives. Were getting together to go to L.A., we have some contacts out there. And hopefully, were not going out there like everyone else, hop on that bus, and we got stars in our eyes, considering a lot of actors. Im the older brother, and I do feel like I have a responsibility. Ive been told not to worry about her, and that shes been wanting to do this since she was a little kid. At 20, I would never have been ready, like she is.
I had a lot of anger that I was dealing with, I just lost my father, and I think thats made me......as Brandon Smith would say, Lifes experiences make you a better actor. Hes a neat person. Hes not into the Hollywood scene, and thats what I like about him. He knows a lot, and he sees it from all different angles. Hes been there, done that, hes been with the Alley.....and I do speak highly of him. He taught me a lot, and has worked with me. Hes a neat guy.
Hes helped me not to take acting so seriously. Its not so serious, its not like youve got your life on the line. And he taught me a lot about life, how to let go of all those inhibitions. If you have inhibitions, you dont need to be up there.
THYDE: Jennifer Lynn Rogers who plays Marie in Come Back Little Sheba walks in. She is a beautiful young blonde 20-year old, whos sort of shy and quiet. (To Jennifer) You play the character of this girl who lives with the family?
JLROGERS: I play a college student.
THYDE: What is your acting background?
JLROGERS: I started when I was in elementary school, doing Childrens musicals. From there I started into a passion play, we toured into Canada, and did a play in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In High School, I did some Community Theater for the small town of La Pier, where I come from, and when I moved to my new high school, I did some work with them.
THYDE: Youre 20 years old, very beautiful, blonde, and youre a singer?
JLROGERS: Not really, this was when I was younger.....I try.
THYDE: Would you like to do more musicals in the future?
JLROGERS: Its possible, if I got a voice coach.
THYDE: How do you like acting?
JLROGERS: I love acting, my dream started when I was about 13. But, I kinda went off on different avenues, because I thought it was just an unstable path to choose. As a matter of fact, in February, I have just broken up with this guy, because he didnt share my dream. I just had this burning inside of me, I wanted to be an actress. And then, it turns out 2 months later, I found out that Steve was an actor, so it all kind of.....it all worked out really well.
THYDE: Youve known about your half-brother before?
JLROGERS: I found out about him when I was twelve, so for eight years, I knew I had a half brother, but I didnt know anything except for his birthday, and how old he was, obviously.
THYDE: How was the anticipation of meeting him?
JLROGERS: Oh my gosh. It was.....unbelievable. It felt like a dream, standing from the balcony of the hotel, waiting for him to pull up. I had no clue what he was like, and his car pulled up, and I took a quick glance, and felt him go up to the hotel, and its like.....Oh my God, hes awesome, I cant believe this is happening. And I was so excited for my mom, too, cause this was a moment she had waited for.
THYDE: Was she nervous as well?
JLROGERS: Oh, she was......(long pause).......Hysterical. It was very strange, he has my mothers eyes, completely, the color, everything about him, and I just couldnt believe it, because I didnt really think we would look alike, and then when I saw him, it was just.....it was unbelievable. We look more alike than my other brother and I, my full brother (Jason) in Michigan. So, it was very very strange, and then to have the same dream......
THYDE: That is so wild!!! Did you have a lot to talk about?
JLROGERS: We hit it off right away, we talked about everything, and we discovered that we shared a lot of ....through our life, weve had a lot of the same experiences, and relationships, and just everything in life, even though, he was brought up with a separate family, and I was brought up differently, we just had similarities.
THYDE: What are your plans for the future? Are you going back to school?
JLROGERS: Probably.....If I do, its just gonna be for my own knowledge, maybe take some French Classes.....
THYDE: So, your dream is to be an actress, and you want to pursue acting with your brother. I think you guys are gonna be so great.
JLROGERS: I hope so, Im really excited, I think itll go well. Weve been together since April, and I moved to Houston in August.
THYDE: The theme of Come Back Little Sheba is the importance of family and togetherness. Dont miss this moving drama from September 12th thru October 4th at The Actors Workshop, and discover the young new talent of Houston Theater.