James Joyce’s The Dead: Marni Nixon interview part 2 | Quotidian Theatre Company

Janice Hall

Quotidian Theatre Company opens its 15th Anniversary Season with its first musical, James Joyce’s The Dead. Richard Nelson and Shawn Davey adapt Joyce’s story about a family Christmas party and marry the story with music that draws from Irish tradition. To prepare for this production, Quotidian co-founders Jack Sbarbori and Stephanie Mumford, accompanied by QTC board member/actor David Dubov, traveled up to New York City in September to record a three-part interview between renowned opera and cabaret singer Janice Hall and singing legend Marni Nixon. Hall plays Gretta Conroy, the leading lady in Quotidian’s upcoming production, and Nixon originated the role of Aunt Kate in the Broadway production. Although Nixon has had a long and distinguished singing career, she will be forever remembered as the voice behind Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Deborah Kerr in The King and I. Her fascinating autobiography, I Could Have Sung All Night, is available at Amazon.

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Marni Nixon

Here is Part Two of our three-part interview with Marni Nixon. It was a great advantage for me, as a fledgling interviewer, to have in Marni a subject with such a great deal to offer in terms of insight and information. Honestly, I think we could have gone on for another hour and still not have covered all there is to say about her experiences with James Joyce’s The Dead.

In Part Two of our interview, Marni and I talk about her preparation for the role of Aunt Kate, and the challenges and joys of rehearsing a show with such a large, yet very integrated, ensemble of characters. We also discuss, as two classically-trained singers, the challenges of trying to portray characters who are supposed to sing in a natural, untrained style.

Most people who know about Marni probably aren’t aware that, in addition to her film and stage work, she has recorded quite a bit of classical music, including some insanely difficult twentieth century pieces. You might want to check this out: composer Heitor Villa-Lobos’s haunting Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, which she recorded in 1959.

I hope you enjoy the “Aria,” and the interview!

~Janice Hall

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Quotidian Theatre Company’s production of James Joyce’s The Dead runs Nov 16 – Dec 16. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm, with one added 2pm performance on Saturday, Dec 15. All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815. There is ample parking across the street (free on weekends), and the theatre is just five blocks from the Bethesda Metro Station on the red line. Tickets are $30, or $25 for students or seniors, paid for at the door by cash or check, please. Call 301.816.1023 or email quotidiantheatre@comcast.net to reserve.

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