Gloria Rossi-Menedes has developed a unique new musical theater venue: BROADWAY AT THE BLUE. The show features Laurelia Derocher, David Gabriel, Gloria Rossi, and often, a Surprise Guest. The show takes place twice a week at the Menedes family’s attractive Greek restaurant, BLUE – Greek on Granite.
One afternoon Gloria and I visited over a scrumptious lunch at her charming home. Her conversation is peppered with random imitations, various foreign accents, sporadic bursts of song, tales of Broadway celebrities, and an occasional Greek word of wisdom.
GRM: People are really responding to Broadway at the Blue. Iconic Broadway tunes are just so American. They describe the American spirit. We tell stories of Broadway, the way it used to be. It’s very different now. When Disney came in, they put in billions of dollars, and cleaned up 42nd Street. Now it’s about operatic voices, that kind of sound.
EH: What compels us to do theater?
GRM: The prefix theo- is from God. It’s the ultimate healer. It’s one of the ultimate healing mechanisms. You’re uplifted. It gives you that feeling. It raises one above one’s local self. It brings you into a field of higher phenomenon, that makes you feel good, that makes you feel better, and puts your whole life and the mystery of life into some sort of perspective. It’s a peak experience. You’ve gone away to somewhere else. Theater brings us to that state.
EH: It’s catharsis.
GRM: Catharsis means to clean. You get cleaned, purified.
It’s a very basic need of the psyche, of the soul, of the brain, for people to get together in a group and become one, become a unit. Between the performers and the audience is a closed circuit.
EH: What makes a great director?
GRM: First of all, the director has to truly listen. He has to understand who you are, and not judge anything you do, too quickly. Then he has to wait for some moment (some bone that you have thrown him) that then he can say, “What you are doing now, is moving into something that is really authentic.” Then, of course, there is honesty.
EH: What makes a great actor?
GRM: It’s the ability to be extremely vulnerable. An actor has to move away from his local individual self. There’s a need for selflessness.
But also an actor needs a strong ego in terms of self image – however an ego that is free, so that whatever comes in, can be expressed. As an actor, you need a strong self-image, because that’s what you’re using, you’re using your self-image. You’re using your body, your package.
Actors, that are not good actors, are the ones that decide on the line-readings before they get to the rehearsal. The actors who don’t make it, become so self-involved, that they’re egos are too strong to allow creativity to come out.
Another thing, I think if actors are afraid, they’ll do it anyway. If they’re vulnerable, they’ll do it anyway. If they’re angry, they’ll do it anyway. They’ll rise above their own problems and do it anyway.
A good actor has to love humanity. There has to be an open-heartedness. It’s a freedom that allows things to flow in, be re-worked, and then put back out, in a way that is allowed out, without judgment. You find this during the rehearsals.
You’ve got to flow with it; it’s a moment-to-moment flow.
BROADWAY AT THE BLUE Performances begin Mondays at 7:00 p.m., Cover charges are 5$ and $7. For information and reservations, call BLUE: 541-708-5150.
Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director living in Ashland. She trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theatre and is a founding member of San Francisco’s Magic Theatre. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org