In this Quick Selfie, Nadia Verrucci gives us lightning-speed tidbits about the work, meeting John Cleese, and a teenage obsession with the Vietnam War. Hair runs from August 30 – September 9 at MainLine Theatre. For more information and to get tickets, click here.
Nadia is a META award winning actor, singer, director and choreographer. Nadia made her professional theatre debut at Centaur Theatre in the world premiere of Carmela’s Table. She has since appeared with Talisman Theatre (Billy [The Days of Howling]), The Segal Centre (The Jazz Singer; Belles Soeurs: The Musical), Composite Theatre Co. (I’m Not Here), MaryBeth Productions (In Search of Mrs. Pirandello) and Kaleidoscope Theatre (Captain Aurora: A Superhero Musical), among others. As a choreographer and director, she has worked with various companies, including Lakeshore Light Opera, McGill Savoy Society, VSP, Dames in Disdress Burlesque and The Dukes of Drag. Nadia’s own theatre company, In Your Face entertainment, has produced both children’s and musical theatre, most recently Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins at Gananoque’s Royal Theatre.
Nadia Verrucci takes notes while the cast of HAIR rehearses at MainLine Theatre
What is your favourite play and why?
Since the question is about my favourite play, I’ll skip over musicals and go for a straight play. As far as comedy goes I generally love Christopher Durang and Neil Simon; but where drama is concerned, by far my all time favourite drama is The Crucible, not only because the writing is compelling and the characters are so multi-faceted and challenging, but also because of the historical connections. I’d always been fascinated by the Salem witch trials, even before I’d ever heard of the play, and I was lucky enough to have the chance to visit Salem when I was in high school. I’ve directed that show twice, and during the first production’s rehearsal period we had a teacher from Dawson come in to talk to us about the McCarthy era and all of the significant aspects of the trials that tied into The Crucible. It was so amazing! I’m still hoping that one day I get cast in a production of that show. Coincidentally enough, I was also a little obsessed with the Vietnam War when I was a teenager – though I honestly can’t remember what got me started on that – so when the opportunity popped up to direct and choreograph Hair, I was really excited.
When it comes to your work, what comes easy/hard for you?
As an actor, I find the process of a show follows the same pattern of really hard to really easy. What I mean is that the beginning of the process, the dreaded audition, is definitely the hardest thing for me. I’m a terrible auditioner. Everything I work on goes out the window because I get nervous and over analytical. How I feel about rehearsal periods varies, depending on the director and the nature of the show, but ultimately the performances are where I feel most relaxed. I’ve had lots of discussions with actors who love rehearsing so much, they’re almost disappointed when that ends and the run actually begins. Not me! I just want to get on the stage and go. My goal is life is to get to the point where people just ask me to play roles, no more auditions… am I delusional?!?
If you were not in this career, what do you think you would do for a living?
Well, I was a high school teacher for 12 years before I resigned to pursue acting full-time, so I guess the answer to that one is pretty obvious! I taught drama and dance, and I had so much fun with my students. I was kind of sad to leave but teaching was always really my second choice career, so I needed to stop. Sometimes being at rehearsal with the cast of Hair brings me back to those days a little bit, because there are quite a few cast members who are in theatre school or just recently graduated, so there’s that same kind of young and eager spirit in the room.
Person you would most like to have a cuppa with?
John Cleese, no question. I’ve actually already met him and had a chat with him, but it was only maybe for about 10 minutes, so I didn’t get my fill. I need a whole afternoon at least to mine that man’s brilliantly funny brain. But he did sign my copy of Monty Python Flying Circus – Just the Words, so sometimes I’ll stare at that and remember that we were in the same room, talking together. I know, I sound like a geek, but I’m ok with that.
What’s your favourite show that you’ve worked on?
I actually just finished a run in Gananoque of the show Souvenir, which is a play based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, the worst opera singer in the world. It’s a two-hander and it’s absolutely brilliant, so incredibly funny but also very poignant. I’ve done that show three times now, and I have the pleasure of performing with the wonderful Chris Barillaro, who plays Florence’s accompanist, Cosme McMoon. That woman is a total inspiration, and portraying her is the most fun and rewarding thing I’ve ever done on stage. I honestly would never get tired of playing that role.