By Adam Hetrick
04 Dec 2012
|Photo by Simon Luethi|
Theatre couple John Dossett and Michele Pawk have been making music together for nearly two decades. The couple first met at Lincoln Center Theater in the 1993 production of Michael John LaChiusa's Hello Again and are reunited on stage this season in the composer-lyricist's latest musical Giant, which opened Off-Broadway at The Public Theater Nov. 15, for a run to Dec. 16.
Playbill.com caught up with Dossett and Pawk prior to a recent evening performance of the sweeping, Texas-set musical that has music and lyrics by LaChiusa and a book by Sybille Pearson. It's based on Edna Ferber's 1952 novel about the changing social and physical landscape of Texas in the first 50 years of the 20th century. Dossett appears as rancher Bick Benedict's Uncle Bawley, with Pawk as Bick's rough-hewn sister Luz in Giant — but they first encountered each other on a bed, as the Senator and the Actress in Hello Again.
Michele Pawk: Yes, and here we are doing another Michael John LaChiusa piece in the basement of another theatre. We tend to gravitate toward the basement! [Laughs].
John Dossett: Yes we did. It's funny, when we met the first day of rehearsal, she just looked like someone I grew up with, someone from my high school; someone I knew and felt very comfortable with. I had worked with Graciela Daniele, who directed it, prior to this on another show. They were casting and she called me out of the blue — the first and only time she's ever called me in her entire life — and said, "John I found the woman to play the Actress, you're going to love her." We call her our fairy godmother.
MP: We do. We have a boy who's almost 13, so we sort of credit Graciela and Michael John for putting us together in the first place.
|Photo by Joan Marcus|
Did you both know there was a spark early on? You share a pretty steamy scene together in Hello Again.
MP: Our lives were very complicated at that time, there was a lot of other stuff going on. I don't know that I knew when you knew.
JD: I knew! I couldn't sit next to her. In the big rehearsal room in the basement of Lincoln Center there were big bleachers we would sit on, and I was never in the same row with her. I couldn't do it.
The cast album of Hello Again was the first time I encountered the two of you. It also introduced me to a lot of big talent, like Donna Murphy, John Cameron Mitchell, Carolee Carmello and Malcolm Gets. That's a really impressive group.
MP: I knew of everyone kind of peripherally at the time. I hadn't been in New York all that long. I had only done Crazy For You, really. And I remember when I jumped through the various hoops and then getting cast, thinking, "I'm in the room that I really want to be in!" I was so honored to be in that cast with those actors. And then Michael John, who is just a genius, I think. The idea to take La Ronde, and to not only tell that story with 10 people, [but] to jump time periods, and to do so musically —
JD: It was really exciting.
MP: Like we feel now. That's how Giant feels. We all feel like we are part of something incredibly special.