Five Questions with Amanda Dorman

They say that misery loves company but Curtain Call Theatre has also been proving that audiences and critics love “Misery,” their production of William Goldman’s stage adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling thriller. The title is famous for it’s lead character, an unhinged, repressed nurse Annie Wilkes who has the world famous author Paul Sheldon in her care at here remote snowbound Colorado cabin after he crashes his car in a snowstorm. The role won Kathy Bates an Oscar and isn’t treating Amanda Dorman too shabbily either as The Daily Gazette has said she is “superb” and our colleague at Nippertown, Bill Kellert has said she “ rules the stage.”

Amanda Dorman/David Quinones

I threw our Five Questions at Amanda and learned a great deal even though we’ve known each other at least 20 years. She is fantastic in this part and I encourage everyone to try and get a ticket to the final four performances this weekend Thursday thru Saturday night and Sunday matinee, 1/26-1/29. Tickets can be purchased at 518-877-7529.

PW: What’s your history in Capital Region theater?  

AD: I moved to the Capital Region in January of 2000.  I had my theatre degree, was in a new city, and had no idea how to get involved in the local theatre scene. One day I went for a very long walk and discovered the Steamer No.10 Theater. They had a sign out about the play that night, starting in about an hour and a half. Outside the theater were people smoking and stretching. I recognized them as performers immediately and introduced myself. That day I met the incredibly talented Kris Anderson and the now, sadly, late (and also incredibly talented) Mark Salocks. I saw the show that night (The Complete Works of Shakespeare: Abridged), and Mark called me that week asking me to stage-manage his next project, Hamlet. That was my first Capital Region project and my entrance to the local theatre scene. Despite working too much to pay bills, I still found time to get involved in many productions over the last 23 years, most often as a stage-manager or director.   

PW: You work by day as a real estate agent, how does your experience on stage reflect your day job and vice-versa?  

AD: I love fixing problems in productions. I do the same for homeowners and soon to be homeowners!   Some of my best work in theatre comes from having to circumvent limitations. Things like size or shape of a stage vs. what the script may call for, or the production budget (or very much lack there of), all affect what kind of show you can do and how it can be presented.  In real estate, I have to work within a budget and off of a wishlist to find the right home for buyers.  You put yourself out there and form relationships with people in both situations to continue working. 

PW: This is a stage adaptation of an iconic movie which itself was based on a bestselling book, what do you think the primary difference between the stage, film or, for that matter, reading experience is?  

AD: In my opinion, there is an evolution of a story here.  The book is entirely from Paul’s perspective.  He is the *writer* of the book retelling his experiences.  The movie couldn’t be all Paul’s internal monologue and gave some character depth to Annie (his captor) and Buster (the Sheriff).  In the movie, we even meet Paul’s agent and Buster’s wife. Movies allow for different locations to help fill-on and move the story along. There are scenes that take place in NYC, in Paul’s room at the Lodge, in Buster’s office in town all of which was possible with a movie, but could not easily be done on stage. For the play, Annie has to have more depth. I re-read the book a made notes of every life event she mentioned to Paul, or that he found in her scrapbook of newspaper clippings.  This helped me prepare for the role and make choices for the character based on what would be considered canon for her. The fullest version of the Annie character is from the play. It is where we see her the most. The whole experience takes place in her home. It is the only place where we can follow (as well as could be possible) her thought patterns and choices. I hope that audiences are able to see her as fully human. Yes, she is a monster, and does monstrous things, but I don’t believe she wants to be. It might be interesting to have a version of this that is entirely Annie POV, with some of her history showing how she got to the point that she sincerely felt holding Paul hostage is the right thing to do.   

PW: What’s the play that changed your life?  

AD: Wow. There are so many that have created pivot points in my life. I couldn’t possibly pick one.  The first I ever saw was my older cousin playing Kenickie in Grease. I wanted to do the same (sing and dance, preferably as Rizzo)!   The first role I ever had was playing Banquo’s ghost in Macbeth in a nerdy summer camp I attended.  I needed more! (I would love to play Macbeth sometime). The first professional production I ever saw was Jesus Christ Superstar, with Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson. The audience was packed and I was in the proverbial “nose-bleed” section of the house. Still, the emotional response I had with those tiny-looking people down there on the stage cemented my love for theatre.  he first show I ever produced was The Vagina Monologues. I had to negotiate with the venue (where I was working at the time), adjust the staging to fit into the venue space, and pull together a team. Mark Rennell, the manager of the venue, was incredibly supportive. Jeremy Anderson-Ward saw the audition notice and contacted me to be the stage-manager, and is now one of my closest friends (my brother from another mother).  We three produced the show for another few years, then when Mark moved out of the area, we added in another producer, Mary Rizzo, to continue the annual show until COVID shut us down, raising over $27,000 over the years for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood!

PW: I know this part of Annie Wilkes was coveted by many women and I believe you have described it as a dream role, do you have another dream role?  

AD: Annie was a dream role. I read the book in the late 80’s when there was a discussion for making a movie. I wanted to play her then. I was far too young.  (Kathy Bates was incredible of course and well deserved her Oscar win for it!)  I’m annoyed with myself that I did not realize there was a play version until well after it closed. (I would have LOVED to see Laurie Metcalf as Annie!!) I began my campaign to play her on stage at that moment.  When Curtain Call announced it was in their upcoming season, I was able to focus my campaign. I had ordered the script and the book and started doing my actor homework.  I previously had the honor of playing another dream role, Jessie in ‘Night Mother (ironically, the Broadway  role that won Kathy Bates her Tony) at Albany Civic Theater in 2013.  There are a few musical characters I would love to play, though I probably don’t have the pipes to pull them off, and have definitely aged out of a few.  Finding good, meaty, interesting roles for a woman of my stature is not an easy task. I’m still looking for my next dream role and am willing to take suggestions. Right now I need a comedy.

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