Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog


Cast Interview – Elizabeth Aspenlieder


Cast Interview – Elizabeth Aspenlieder

Elizabeth Aspenlieder. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Elizabeth Aspenlieder. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

Bad Dates star Elizabeth Aspenlieder, originally from Toronto, Canada, has spent the last 13 years working at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA. She has acted in numerous productions over that period of time, including Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, and Richard III. In addition to her acting work at Shakespeare and Company, Elizabeth is also the Director of Public Relations and Playbill Sales. 

Bad Dates ran for two months at Shakespeare and Company, starting in January of this year. During her time off from the show, Elizabeth answered a few questions about Bad Dates and her character, Haley Walker.

 

How has Bad Dates been going for you out at Shakespeare and Company?

 

It has been a wonderful experience stepping into Haley’s shoes every night – literally and figuratively! We’ve had great houses and so much fun. I was surprised how quickly I became comfortable with the audiences every night and them with me — so much so they talk back to me…give me advice, you know, sigh and gasp at some of my not so ‘hip’ clothing choices, like “wear the blue dress darling – that skirt is awful…don’t go out with him…” stuff like that. It sure keeps me on my toes because I am after all doing a play 🙂 . But it’s been great fun to interact with them and form a bond, a level of camaraderie and trust. They are after all coming into my bedroom every show, so it’s a pretty intimate setting and thankfully, we both seem to feel like we are just talking to a best friend, sharing our ups and downs and trying to figure it all out together — at least that’s how it feels at my end, and it’s really inspiring.


How were you able to balance performing with your day job at Shakespeare and Co.?

 

It sure has been a balancing act. Kind of like that silly human trick of rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time…it’s not always easy :)! I’ve always felt that women, or at least most of the ones in my life are great at multi-tasking – and luckily it’s something I have been doing here for years so it’s second nature. I just look at the whole picture, plan out my day and be sure give myself plenty of time to prepare before each show – I usually leave the office by 4pm if I have a 7pm show so I can clear out the days clutter in my head, let work go and move into Haley’s world and psyche. And power naps are so under-rated! 

 

How, if it all will you adjust your performance when the show moves to MRT?

 

I think I will most likely have to adjust my intentions and up my desire to reach a 300 seat house as opposed to the intimate 100-seat house I have been playing in. I just have to sense if the audience is with me, I can feel it in my bones and in the air if they are ‘getting it’ – the story, so I may have to adjust my volume, my intentions – like tuning a guitar so it’s all in sync and harmony. My first experiences with S&Co. were performances on the 600-seat outdoor Mainstage, and for the past 8 years I have been playing in their 428-seat theatre so I am very familiar and comfortable with playing to larger houses.

 

Do you have any bad date stories in your past that helped you understand or indentify with you character, Haley?

 

Oh, boy! Do I. Let’s see, I have code names for all of them of course…there was the ‘chicken man’ – you don’t want to know…the ‘tattoo man’, I couldn’t tell if he actually was wearing a shirt or if he truly had a tattoo that covered his entire body – that just ‘looked like a shirt’…hmmm….oh then there was the ‘kid’ (he said he was 35…turns out he was 23 and I’m like…well, to quote Haley “It doesn’t matter how old I am.” Yes, you can say I have drawn from my personal experiences with bad dates. But not only that,  Haley really has this incredible journey where she goes through a gamut of emotions from elation, to despair, to hopeful, ecstatic happiness, to humiliation and heartbreak – all experiences most of us have had in our lives, which makes this play accessible to so many of us. It holds a mirror up to our lives, our human desires, needs and faith that it will all work out in the end. And if it doesn’t? Well, it’s not the end. 🙂

 

Finally, is it ever possible to have too many shoes?

 

In a word, NO.

 

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