WESTMINSTER, CA - With Mary Poppins marking her fourth appearance on the Rose Center Theater stage, Meredith Woodson returns to the Rose in the role of Miss Andrew, George Banks's overbearing and scary nanny. Previously seen at The Rose as Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street and Miss Jones in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Meredith holds a Bachelor's degree in Theatre and Education from Cal State Fullerton, a graduate certificate in Arts Development and Program Management, and a Master's Degree in Philanthropic Leadership from the University of Denver.
Outside of the Rose, Meredith has also performed as a backup singer for Tony Award winner, Nell Carter, has been a featured entertainer for Toho-Geno Productions (Japan) and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, a studio vocalist for Warner Bros, and in multiple regional theaters around Southern California.
Excerpts from our interview:
What was one of the first things that attracted you to being a performer?
The old movie musicals from the 40's and 50's were my inspiration. I wanted to be a mix of Danny Kaye and Doris Day in those lavish musical numbers.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as an actor? I have had great opportunities to perform in many places around the world, and work for many levels of talented performers. I may not have become famous (which wasn't ever really my interest), but I sure haven't missed out on the excitement!
When preparing for auditions, how do you get yourself ready? Any tips to other performers? I make sure I'm very warmed-up and that my piece(s) are memorized. When a performer gets nervous, those are of the things that are affected the most, so being super prepared helps. I would highly recommend David Craig's "On Singing Onstage" to any budding performer.
What do you think is the most frustrating part of being a performer? When the collaborative team environment isn't present. It's rare, but I have had experiences where everyone was out for themselves, and the production really suffered for it.
How do you handle rejection? It takes a lot of years to get to the this place, but really, I just tell myself to move on. You really do get used to it after you've been auditioning for many years.
What motivates you as a performer? A good story, good music, good cast and GREAT director!
What is your process like in preparing for a role like Miss Andrew?
Memorizing the lines and blocking are first, then that allows me to not focus so much on them, and instead work on my subtext: what is going on in the mind of the character when she is delivering that specific line. Doing so helps explain and motivate how I deliver a line or perform certain movements. You can't just walk across the stage because your director tells you he needs you out of the way for something else happening on stage. You have to come up with a reason why your character would move for it to be believable.
How important do you think training is as a performer? Training is the backbone of a performer's set of skills. Some things might come naturally to a performer, and they may have been born with a certain high level, but in order to compete with all the other "born-with-it" performers, even high levels of skill must be enriched, and not so high levels cultivated over time. Then, the experiences of performing are what round out your whole package. A good theater school is always recommended for anyone who intends to make it a serious endeavor. Get that degree, then many more doors will open for you in and out of the performing arts industry.
Do you have a favorite role you've played? Oh, geez, so many! Lady Jacquie in Me and My Girl was fun because she's a vamp who rolls around on a sofa in vintage lingerie (ah, those were the days). I also loved Noleta Nethercott in Sordid Lives because she was such a character so far removed from my own personality....plus I performed as her in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which was already really special.
On the other hands, has there been a role that you found particularly difficult to play? Probably Diana in Lend Me a Tenor. Not because she was a difficult character, but because of what I mentioned earlier. The director was totally unsuccessful at his job, and the cast did not come together like a team or community. Lots of belittling and patronizing going on that really affected the experience.
Do you have a dream role you have yet to play? Donna in Mamma Mia. I'm the right age to play it now, which I wasn't when it first came out. I grew up on the music of ABBA, and even sang a ton of their songs when I was working in a cover band. The material is always uplifting and tells a good story. My ultimate dream would be realized if my daughter, Chloe, got to play Sofie in the same production!
Do you have a favorite actor or performer? Nowadays, I would have a tough time choosing between Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates. They're all so amazing, and you never know who's going to show up on that stage or screen when they're involved. They completely morph into someone totally different!
What is a fun fact about you that people wouldn’t be aware of? I am a third generation musical theater performer. Any advice to other actors or aspiring performers? Get your education completed, then take every opportunity to perform and see the world!