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INTERVIEW: Tovah Feldshuh And Wade Dooley Talk "The Prompter" At Bay Street

T.J. Clemente

Tovah Feldshuh and Wade Dooley. (Photo: Lenny Stucker)

Respected acting legend Tovah Feldshuh along with playwright Wade Dooley took some time out from their rehearsals for the Bay Street Theater's first 2019 Main Stage Production, The Prompter, for a wonderful interview. This World Premiere production is being directed by Bay Street's Artistic Director, Scott Schwartz. Ms. Feldshuh will be playing a ninety-year old actor who returns to the stage after a forty year hiatus, with Mr. Dooley playing the very younger man hired to be her prompter to help her along.

I asked Ms. Feldshuh, who summers in Quogue, for a Scott Schwartz story expecting it might come from their long successful collaboration with Golda's Balcony, where Mr. Schwartz directed Ms. Feldshuh in her Tony Award winning portrayal as Golda Meir. However, instead she revealed, "Actually, in 1974 Scott's dad, Stephen Schwartz, wrote the song Child of the Seventies for me and at that time I first met Stephen's wife Carole, who was pregnant with Scott!"

Then I asked Mr. Dooley to describe how it is working with Tovah Feldshuh. He responded, "She's a workhorse constantly bringing in new ideas. She is amazing at remembering lines too." He then proceeded to say how honored he is to have an actor of her caliber for the World Premiere of his play. Mr. Dooley explained that Tovah's role (Irene Young) is "a fictional character based on many actual characters" he has encountered while actually being a prompter.

Ms. Feldshuh chimed in about learning a "West Virginia accent", where fictional 90-year-old Irene Young is from. She explained playing Irene was a "different kettle of fish" than playing Golda Meir in Golda's Balcony. Golda Meir died when she was 80-years-old, while Irene is 90 and just starting her stage comeback.

When Ms. Feldshuh was asked about Wade Dooley as a playwright, she said with zeal, "I love the writing, it comes from his truth." She believes the quality of the writing makes it easier to learn the lines.

Mr. Dooley believes the audience will enjoy the "Irene-isms," and they both agreed the relationship of Irene Young and Wade, the character Mr. Dooley plays, is a bit of "a roller coaster ride." Ms. Feldshuh added that Irene Young is also about "how to be 90 in this day and age."

During the interview it was obvious a special chemistry was already forming between the universally respected legend, that being Tovah Feldshuh, and the up-and-coming playwright and actor Wade Dooley. They finished each other's sentences and had a wonderful energy that I look forward to seeing on the Bay Street Stage.

In an interview earlier this month with Scott Schwartz, Bay Street Theater's Artistic Director and The Prompter director, he was very positive about this project. "It's going to be a very good one," he said trying to hide his obvious enthusiasm.

In closing, Tovah Feldshuh made a bold prediction. She feels Mr. Dooley's play will someday be a hit on Broadway and it will launch his career as a noted American Playwright. I certainly look forward to seeing The Prompter.

The Prompter can be seen at Bay Street Tuesday, May 28 through Sunday, June 16. Tickets range from $40 to $125.

Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.

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