Susan Rome is currently performing the role of Empty in The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures (IHO for short) at Theater J. Susan’s past Theater J credits include The Moscows of Nantucket, The Argument, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, Spring Forward, Fall Back and After the Revolution which gave Susan a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Resident Production. Other select area credits include Mud Blue Sky, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (also at Kansas City Repertory Theatre) and An Enemy of the People at Center Stage, A Shayna Maidel at Rep Stage and The Tragedy of Macbeth and All’s Well That Ends Well at Baltimore Shakespeare Festival. IHO is an epic piece of theatre in size and length. The play runs close to three and a half hours and as you will read, it covers a lot of ground in that time. Susan’s performance, along with the rest of this incredible cast, is one reason why the show does not feel long at all. You are totally engaged from beginning to end. Plus you have Tony Kushner’s extraordinary dialogue.
Susan is an actress of great range, Everything I see her in I always enjoy. From the grandmother in The Moscows of Nantucket to the quirky movie star Masha in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Susan performances are always very enjoyable. Please check out IHO at Theater J for a theatrical experience you won’t soon forget. Susan Rome, one of the area’s best actresses doing what she does best. Giving great performances for all to enjoy.
How did you get interested in performing?
The first play I ever auditioned for was a high school production of Once in a Lifetime. I was a freshman and had never acted. My older sister was auditioning, and I think I may have signed up out of spite! I got the lead. Then the Baltimore School for the Arts opened, and I crashed those auditions as well…and was one of about a dozen kids accepted into the acting program that first year. That was 35 years ago! I was a pretty degenerate kid, and acting channeled all my destructive energy into something more creative.
Can you please tell us a little bit about The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures (mouthful) and something about the character you play in the show?
The play is about a family dealing with the announced intended suicide of the Communist longshoreman patriarch. We are three adult kids, severely emotionally handicapped by having grown up under his ideology. He is charming and lovely and smart and terrifying. My character, the only daughter, Empty (short for Maria Teresa, or MT), is the most “in his image” and I spend the play’s 3.5 hours trying to save my dad’s life. I am described by other characters in the play as: Smart, beautiful, cruel, elegant, certain, hard-headed, and doomed.
Was there one thing in particular about IHO that drew you to it?
That it is a Kushner play, for sure. I still remember indelibly seeing Angels in America at the Mark Taper Forum in LA in 1993. WOW! Also, Empty’s strength and passion drew me to her. I am so lucky to be wrestling with this character, in this cast, at this point in my life!
You have worked at Theater J on several productions including The Moscows of Nantucket and The Argument. What do you enjoy the most about working at Theater J?
I have done a lot of shows there! Everyone has always treated me with loving kindness. It has been a creative home for me, where I get to play everything from the “other (younger) woman” (The Ride Down Mt Morgan) to the grandmother (Moscows of Nantucket). The Argument was particularly impactful for me. Ari Roth programs with courage, and I am proud to be associated with this theater and its mission.
What is next for you after IHO finishes?
I go into rehearsal in a couple of weeks for The Whale at Rep Stage. The day after we close that, I start After the Revolution at Center Stage (playing the same role I played in Theater J’s production last season), then I finish my season back at Theater J in The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife with Paul Morella and Lise Bruneau, directed by Eleanor Holdridge.