Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. is presently presenting Ken Ludwig’s heartfelt drama about his own parents who meet through the mail and fell in love during World War II, “Dear Jack, Dear Louise.” Ludwig is better known for his madcap comedies like “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery.” The play will be in performance at Arena Stage until Dec. 29, 2019 and offers audiences a tender story for this Holiday Season.
The Associated Press has called this playwright “intelligent and savvy.”
Jake Epstein and Amelia Pedlow are making their Arena Stage debuts as Ludwig’s parents in this two-character play. The play is directed by Jackie Maxwell who directed “Junk,” “Watch on the Rhine,” and “Good People” for Arena Stage. Beowulf Boritt is the Set Designer, Linda Cho is the Costume Designer, Jason Lyons is the Lighting Designer and Lindsay Jones did the Original Music and Sound Design.
I had a chance to interview Amelia Pedlow who plays Louise in “Dear Jack, Dear Louise.”
Bio: D.C. credits include: “Doubt” at Studio Theatre; “Love’s
Labor’s Lost” at The Folger; and “The Metromaniacs,” “A
Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Merchant of Venice” with Shakespeare
Theatre Company. Off-Broadway credits include: “Intelligence” (world
premiere) at NYTW Next Door; “Pride & Prejudice” with Primary
Stages (world premiere by Kate Hamill); “Tis Pity She’s a Whore” with Red
Bull Theatre Company; “The Liar” and “The Heir Apparent” with Classic
Stage Company; and “You Never Can Tell” with The Pearl Theatre
Company. Other regional credits include: “Playing with Fire” at The
Guthrie; “Fortune” at The Hanger; “Pride & Prejudice” and “The
General from America” with Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival; “Red
at The Old Globe; “Ether Dome” with La Jolla Playhouse, Hartford Stage and The Huntington; “The Glass Menagerie” and “Hamlet” with The Denver Center; and “Legacy of Light” with Cleveland Playhouse. Her TV credits include: “The Good Wife,” “Blue Bloods,” “Shades of Blue” and “The Blacklist.” She received her B.F.A. from The Juilliard School.
- Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Yes! I was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. My parents were both high school teachers- my mother taught AP Calculus and my father taught English Literature and Writing, and I have an older brother and sister as well. No one in my family is in the arts, but they are all extremely supportive of me. (My brother and sister had to suffer through a lot of “Annie Get Your Gun” in the car while growing up.) I went straight from my Catholic all-girls high school, Nazareth Academy, to college in New York City at The Juilliard School, and that was quite the overwhelming experience as you can imagine. But one I am forever grateful for.
- How do you think attending the Juilliard School helped prepare you for your career?
The Juilliard School is a phenomenal training program for artists. It really really is. I was also lucky to have 17 classmates who were each just beautiful humans- kind, playful, and generous of heart. I arrived having had no professional training whatsoever. So, Juilliard taught me everything from how to breathe deeply to how to affect a Bronx dialect and everything in between. I learned how to listen and stay in the moment with a scene partner and not plan. I learned how to be in touch with my body. I learned how to analyze a piece of text for understanding, comprehension, and how best to make thoughts alive for and understood by an audience. The Juilliard School taught me how to act, and the lessons continue to drop in even years later.
- Do you prefer working on stage or television and why?
I would love to do more television!! I have so many friends who do television who say the same thing about theatre! A combination of the two would be ideal, it is just difficult when you can book theatre jobs months in advance, and they can last three months or more. With television work, you are generally cast and then begin shooting the following week. I think when I want to properly pursue television in New York. it will require getting a day-job again and then being ready at a moment’s notice. Right now, I’m very happy to be working so consistently in theatre. I love acting. That’s the bottom line, and I am genuinely thrilled to do it in any way those opportunities come.
- Can you tell us a little bit about your character, Louise Rabiner, in “Dear Jack, Dear Louise” and why you like or don’t like her?
Yes!! What’s extra fun is that Louise describes herself in the play to Jack when they are introduced and are getting to know each other off the bat. So, I’m tempted to just share her words, because how we describe ourselves and how others on the outside may describe us can be so telling, no? Louise is wonderful. She is a brash, enormously positive, actor, singer and dancer who lives life with her heart on her sleeve. She speaks her mind, and she is phenomenally kind and generous to a fault. She can occasionally put her foot in her mouth, as those who always speak their mind occasionally do, and she does have a habit of very long-form storytelling. However, her love of life and wonder at theatre makes for a refreshing character to step into every night. I, too, am a big lover of musical theatre, and I have found that digging up some of my old favorites from childhood has helped me bring her genuine enthusiasm onstage with me every night. Lately, I have even been silently rocking out to “I’m the Greatest Star” from “Funny Girl” and “Roses’ Turn” from “Gypsy” in the dressing room right before heading onstage as a Louise- warmup. Yup.
- Other than Louise, what has been your favorite role and briefly why?
Right now, today, I would say my favorite role to date would be Lucille in “The Metromaniacs” by David Ives. It was a loose translation and adaptation by that brilliant playwright that had its world premiere at The Shakespeare Theatre a few years ago, directed by Michael Kahn. If you met me, I think most would assume that I’m a somewhat bookish, subdued young lady, and I think many would not have even let me audition for the role of ‘Lucille’. She is a loud, over-the-top, sexy creampuff of a clown, and I was able to be freer and more playful onstage with that role in that play than I ever have been in my life. The blonde wig and bright pink dress with full cleavage was so freeing for me, and just a joy to share with audiences every night.
“Dear Jack, Dear Louise” runs until December 29, 219 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth Street S.W., Washington, D.C. 20002. There will be an open-captioned performance on December 26at 8 p.m. and an audio-described performance on December 21 at 2 p.m. For information and tickets contact their website. For complete 2019/2020 Season details go to this link.