CUE & A: Country House Star Kate Jennings Grant on Barbara Cook, Playing a Tomato and Her Lifelong Devotion to Barry Manilow

News   CUE & A: Country House Star Kate Jennings Grant on Barbara Cook, Playing a Tomato and Her Lifelong Devotion to Barry Manilow Kate Jennings Grant, who stars as Nell McNally in the Broadway production of Donald Margulies' The Country House, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Kate Jennings Grant
Kate Jennings Grant

Grant has previously appeared on Broadway in The Lyons (Lisa Lyons), Guys and Dolls (Sarah Brown), Proof (Claire) and An American Daughter (Quincy Quince).

Off-Broadway and regional credits include The Marriage of Bette & Boo, The Beard of Avon, Between Us, Radiant Baby, Summer of ’42, Blithe Spirit, Talley’s Folley, The Misanthrope, The Heidi Chronicles, Finian’s Rainbow and Applause.

Screen work includes “The Good Wife,” “The Carrie Diaries,” “Pan Am,” “Royal Pains,” “Body of Proof,” “Parenthood,” “White Collar,” “Rescue Me,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Damages,” “Alpha House,” "Love & Other Drugs," "Frost/Nixon," "The Rebound," "United 93," "When a Stranger Calls," "Forgiven" and "Kinsey."

Name: Kate Jennings Grant
Where you were born/where you were raised: Born in New Jersey. Raised in Guilford, CT.
Zodiac Sign: Aries
What your parents did/do for a living: Mom is an artist who runs her own art school. Dad is the founder of MedPricer, a medical e-sourcing company.
Siblings: My brother Les Grant, a true renaissance man, co-founder of MedPricer and also a wonderful jazz singer.
First Broadway show you ever saw: Peter Pan, with my grandparents.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? I'd like to re-live seeing Peter Pan with my grandparents, but this time in house seats.
Current/recent show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: Bootycandy and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "Some Enchanted Evening," "Being Alive," "Fable"
Favorite musicals: All the Falsettos musicals, Guys and Dolls
Some favorite modern plays: Everything written by Chris Durang
Stage or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: Helen Stenborg and Barney Hughes
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: I got to be in the recording studio this year when my brother Les Grant recorded his first album "Way Forward/Way Back." I felt like I got to watch his dream come true.
Music that makes you cry, any genre: 1980's power ballads make me spontaneously burst into tears.
You personal acting idols: My idols in the acting business are the teachers who devote their lives to encouraging, challenging and training young actors to be courageous, professional and true to themselves.
MAC or PC? MAC
Last book you read: Neil Patrick Harris' "Choose Your Own Autobiography." Hilarious and moving.
Must-see TV show(s): I have to watch NY1 every morning or I feel lost.
Last good movie you saw: "A Most Wanted Man" with an incredible performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Barry Manilow
Pop culture guilty pleasure: See above
Three favorite cities: New York, Paris, and I always have fun in Vegas
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Helen Reddy's Greatest Hits. I just listened to it again yesterday -- it holds up!
First stage kiss: I got to kiss a very handsome boy named Scott in Guys and Dolls at Guilford High School.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: The night I saw Shirley MacLaine do that incredible one-take scene running around the nurse's station in "Terms of Endearment." I remember thinking, "I want to be an actress!"
Favorite pre-/post-show meal:

Pre-show: Chicken Noodle Soup at Cafe Edison. Post-show: Orso (kale salad and then I make someone else order the pizza so I can have a piece) or Toloache (Brussels sprouts and a watermelon margarita)

Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I share a dressing room with Sarah Steele, who forces us to do a pre-recorded vocal warmup every day. Then we gossip, then other cast members come in and visit us, and then we discuss what candy we're going to eat at intermission.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Well, this wasn't exactly on stage but during Proof, in the middle of a very quiet scene, someone in the mezzanine stood up, threw up, fainted and then fell down the stairs.

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Apparently she was fine a few minutes later, but from where we were standing at the time, I thought she was a goner. (And no, they didn't stop the show!)

Worst costume ever: Giant tomato in Chris Durang's A History of the American Film at Juilliard. Couldn't sit down or I'd roll off the chair.
Best costume ever: See above. It was pretty hilarious.
What drew you to this project? Daniel Sullivan magically appears in my life every 5-10 years with a fabulous role when I least expect it.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect of this show? I love playing flawed women (like Nell) who get to make surprising decisions.
Most challenging role you have played onstage: It was a challenge bringing depth and nuance to that giant tomato.
Any upcoming or side projects you can talk about? I get to be a very naughty wedding planner on "Alpha House" this season.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: I'd love to play a woman who completely unravels in some hilarious way. A basket case who lands on her feet.
Something about you that surprises people: My lifelong devotion to Barry Manilow. And maybe that I was a rehearsal pianist and accompanist for years (which is related to my Manilow obsession).
Career you would want if not a performer: Surgeon. Novelist.
Three things you can't live without: Love, coffee, and a sense of humor
Words of advice for aspiring performers:

I'll pass along what Barbara Cook said to us when she taught an incredible master class at Juilliard my last week there: "There will always be someone prettier, there will always be someone skinnier, there will always be a better actor, there will always be a better singer... there will only be one YOU. Your only job is to walk into an audition and reveal who you are."

I think about that before every scary audition.

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