Tami Marston and Mark Turnbull share the musical direction of Truman Capote’s “Holiday Memories,” now playing at Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Tami and Mark perform in the show, as well. Mark is cast as Guitarist. He strolls through the stage action playing and singing his original music. Tami plays Woman, a series of memorable characters who enter and exit bringing color and humor to the various vignettes throughout the play. We got together over tea on one snowy afternoon.
EH: How many characters do you play?
TM: I play eight roles from age 1to 104 (in eight wigs), including Mrs. Ha-Ha, the saloon singer, with the Christmas bar song.
In “Holiday Memories,” Truman Capote portrays Sook, his aunt and childhood “friend,” as a warm-hearted, eccentric woman who taught him life lessons in a delightful way and found joy in the simplicity of life.
Now at Oregon Cabaret Theatre, Sook is played by Brandy Carson, warm-hearted and perhaps slightly eccentric herself. After studying speech and drama in college, she landed in Los Angeles with a vacuum cleaner, a cast iron skillet and a Siamese cat named Marco Polo. “I thought I had packed,” Carson said.
After 20 years of doing theater and television, Carson came to Ashland. She has appeared at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and numerous other venues in the Rogue Valley.
Brandy and I chatted with Cabaret Artistic Director Jim Giancarlo after viewing the spectacular vaulted attic set for “Holiday Memories.” We discussed the qualities that make the play so appealing.
“I’m a local and proud of it,” Orion Bradshaw said as he sipped his powerhouse smoothie on the porch of Rogue Valley Roasting Company. A graduate of Ashland High School and a graduate of Southern Oregon University, class of 20O7, Bradshaw, with his bachelor’s of fine arts degree in theatre arts, “did an internship right out of school” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Since then he has been continuously employed.
EH: What does an OSF intern do?
OB: An internship is essentially an unpaid position. It’s a learning experience; you get academic credits through the school. You experience the rehearsal process and then you are in a show or two. It opens your eyes to the repertory theater experience.
The interns take on one or two understudy roles, attend performances,and take notes (so that they learn how to effectively shadow someone else). It’s really important to be keyed-in and keep up with your work, because there is such a great domino effect. When one person goes out, there is a potential for five actors to be switched around.
Brad Whitmore has been with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for 11 seasons. I had seen his performances as Schnabel and May in “Paradise Lost.” Neither character resembled the youthful man that I met over coffee at Bloomsbury Books. Brad will be back next season.
EH: What roles are you going to play?
BW: I will be playing several supporting roles in “Hamlet” and Reverend Tooker in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” I’ve played many supporting roles over the last 11 seasons, and perhaps carved out a niche in terms of my ability to play multiple roles very distinctly and unrecognizably in shows.