Countdown to Curtain:
Talking with NANCY OPEL (Corine)
Appearing in one show and rehearsing another would sound like a job beyond the scope of mere mortals, yet actors do it all the time -- and often triumph. Nancy Opel is just such an actress, having recently appeared in the still-running Off-Broadway hit, Mere Mortals, and now Corine, the maidservant, in Triumph Of Love, opening Oct. 23.
Laughs Opel, "I've had people waiting backstage [at Triumph] saying `I just saw you in a play two weeks ago!'" The double-duty is no sudden coincidence, however. Opel had tried out for Triumph back in the spring, but comedienne Elayne Boosler got the part. "They asked me to stand by for the role, and also for the Betty Buckley part. I accepted that job, because I had a lot of faith in the show. I've not in recent memory seen a script as solid and funny. So I signed on having no idea what would happen [with Boosler]. Needless to say, those decisions are made behind closed doors, so I don't really know what occurred. When it did, I'd already been with the show, plus Elayne had a standing gig on the West Coast the first week of rehearsal, so I was filling in already."
And, of course, she was also doing the farcical Mere Mortals at the same time. Continues Opel, "In terms of the exhaustion factor, it was pretty intense. Now that I'm just doing one show, I feel pretty good. I've got my chops up. We really haven't had any technical problems. The show has been shortened since the first preview, but it's not as if we needed a big number for the second act. We're just tweaking right now."
Asked why she thought Corine was a better fit for her than it seems to have been for Boosler, Opel replied, "I don't really know, but I do have a musical comedy background, as well as a comedic play background. So that helped. I am familiar with the milieu." The Kansas City-born Opel worked professionally when she was 16, as Polly Brown in The Boy Friend. Her first Broadway show was Evita as second cover for Eva. "I was 22 and did the matinees for about three years." Unlike co-star F. Murray Abraham, Boosler doesn't consider herself superstitious, but she shares one opening night (and every night) ritual with the actor: getting to the theatre very early. "I'm a mother and wife," said Opel, "and I run a house in Hackensack NJ, so I don't have too many rituals. I never know what any given day will bring for me, so I have to be prepared for anything out here. I make sure I leave very early for the theatre. My life revolves around not getting into a traffic jam."
"Plus I'm not particularly sentimental," Opel continued, "so I don't stack things in my dressing room. People would come see me backstage and say, `Did you just move in or are you planning on moving out?' So I'm gonna change that I think."
What does she actually have in her dressing room at Triumph?"I have a bunch of books, mostly on jewelry making, glass bead making, that kind of thing. I'm sort of a craft-y person. So I have a lot of how-to books and a jewelry making kit. Often I'll bring my sewing machine. I don't have a lot of time off-stage in the show, so I don't know how many projects I can finish off-stage. Oh, and I have a few pictures. Of my daughter, my dog -- Don't tell my husband -- I still need to bring one in of him!"