PLAYBILL ON-LINE'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Christine Ebersole

PLAYBILL ON-LINE'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Christine Ebersole After being an intermittent presence in New York theatre for the past decade, actress Christine Ebersole has forcefully reasserted herself during 2000-01, with a show in every season of the season, as it were. With fall, came the revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man; and the winter brought the concert version of A Connecticut Yankee at Encores!. Her most high profile gig, however, is the current splashy revival of 42nd Street. Her performance has been singled out among the large cast, winning an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination. Her ubiquity is not a coincidence: after 14 years of living in L.A., she and her family recently moved back to New York City.

After being an intermittent presence in New York theatre for the past decade, actress Christine Ebersole has forcefully reasserted herself during 2000-01, with a show in every season of the season, as it were. With fall, came the revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man; and the winter brought the concert version of A Connecticut Yankee at Encores!. Her most high profile gig, however, is the current splashy revival of 42nd Street. Her performance has been singled out among the large cast, winning an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination. Her ubiquity is not a coincidence: after 14 years of living in L.A., she and her family recently moved back to New York City.

Playbill On-Line: You've been working a lot this season, The Best Man, then Encores!' A Connecticut Yankee, now 42nd Street.
Christine Ebersole: I know. It's exciting. I feel I've hit the ground running here. We left L.A., we sold our house. We lived there for 14 years. It's hard to believe. Actually it's really funny; the whole time I was living out in Los Angeles, people said to me, where are you staying while you're out here. My house! (Laughs) They all thought I was from New York and just visiting. But I actually lived there for 14 years, with my husband and three children, four dogs and three cats. But now, we've moved back to New York.

PBOL: That explains why we've been seeing more of you.
CE: I did come back here a couple of times. I came back to do Paper Moon at Paper Mill—that never got to Broadway. And then I did Getting Away with Murder on Broadway. And then Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 at Encores! And that was really the one, the deciding moment. My husband came out to see me on stage. We sat in the hotel room and realized at the moment we'd like to come back here. We've got to come back here. That was always my dream. To be on the Broadway stage and do a musical—the whole time I was in L.A. and doing movies and doing TV series. I really longed for that. Coming back, though, it's harder with the weather.

PBOL: We got a lot of snow this winter.
CE: I'm really up for spring. But that's the great thing about it. When you have the seasons, you really appreciate and notice things that you don't when it's 70 degrees and sunny everyday. I think it's maddening ultimately. The complacency and the sameness of it. The change of season is harder. It is harder. But it's deeper, it's a fuller life in a way.

PBOL: You get to sing a lot in 42nd Street.
CE: I think I have four songs. I loved doing The Best Man; it was such a great company of actors. But there's nothing like a musical. The overture, all these kids out there tap-dancing. PBOL: Is it the form of theatre you enjoy best?
CE: Yeah. Yeah. Musical theatre is really "Its-ville." (Laughs) It really is. I feel like my dreams are coming true. When I was out in L.A., there was always this dreaming about being in a Broadway musical. And it's been sixteen years. That was Harrigan and Hart. It was 1985 when that show opened. Six months later I moved to L.A.

PBOL: So, it's definitely time for a musical?
CE: Yeah!

—By Robert Simonson