PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Yosemite Star Kathryn Erbe

By Matthew Blank
February 7, 2012

Tony Award nominee Kathryn Erbe, curently back onstage in Daniel Talbott's Yosemite at the Rattlestick Theater, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.



Erbe has appeared on Broadway in The Grapes of Wrath, A Month in the Country and The Speed of Darkness, earning a 1991 Tony nomination for the latter performance.

She may be best known as Det. Alexandra Eames on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." Other screen work includes "Rich in Love," "Kiss of Death," "Chicken Soup," "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "Oz."



Full given name: Kathryn Elsbeth Erbe

Where you were born/where you were raised: Born in Boston, MA. Grew up in Newton, MA.

Zodiac Sign:Cancer
What your parents did/do for a living:Dad: Research Geneticist
Mom: Actuary and Landscape Preservationist
Special skills: Making the best of "challenging situations"
Something you're REALLY bad at: Promoting myself!
First Broadway show you ever saw: The Rink with Chita Rivera. Growing up in the Boston area we saw many tours of shows: Annie, A Chorus Line.

But the first true Broadway show I remember seeing was The Rink on a high school trip to see theatre in New York.

If you could go back in time and catch any performance, what would it be? A Streetcar Named Desire with Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy and Kim Hunter
Current show—other than your own—that you have been recommending to friends: War Horse
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "And I Am Telling You” from Dreamgirls
Some favorite modern musicals: The Book of Mormon, A Chorus Line
Some favorite contemporary playwrights: Sam Shepard, Daniel Talbott, Moira Buffini, Theresa Rebeck
Stage or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: There are so many, but the one who just came to mind is Lynn Redgrave. I would love to have a chance to work with her again on stage or on any screen.

She was one of my heroes, as an artist but especially as a person and a MOM.

The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Balm in Gilead, Steppenwolf at Circle Repertory (1984)
Music that makes you cry, any genre: At the moment, Patti Griffin's "Flaming Red" and "Living With Ghosts." I am using both albums to prepare for Yosemite before every performance.
Your personal acting idols: Jessica Lange, Laurie Metcalf, Sissy Spacek
MAC or PC? MAC!!!!
Most played song on your iPod: At the moment, "N**gas In Paris" by Jay-Z and Kanye West. It makes me feel ballsy and like I could run another 5 miles...
Most-visited websites: barneys.com (I am a late night shopping addict)
cartoonnetwork.com (my son plays the games)
Last book you read: “The Corrections” (after reading "Freedom" and loving it)
Must-see TV show(s): "American Horror Story"
"Dexter"
"The Wire"
"Friday Night Lights"
"Modern Family"
"Arrested Development"
Last good movie you saw: "Tree of Life"
Some films you consider classics: "To Kill a Mockingbird"
"On the Waterfront"
"Tree of Life"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Jessica Lange
Pop culture guilty pleasure: The Sunday Styles section of The New York Times
Favorite cities: NYC, Paris, London
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Honestly, probably a Sesame Street album or Mister Rogers, but I wore out my copy of the Annie soundtrack.
First stage kiss: Playing Stella and kissing Stanley at Steppenwolf
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: In kindergarten, playing the Little Red Hen
How you got your Equity card: The first play I was ever paid to do was The Grapes Of Wrath, with Steppenwolf, on Broadway.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: (note where) French Fries at Cafe Un Deux Trois
Favorite liquid refreshment: Water
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Yoga, reading the script, listening to music
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: In The Grapes of Wrath I played "the woman who gets shot in Hooverville," and one night the gun didn't go off.

Thankfully, I chose to stay "in the moment" and not pretend I got shot anyway. I actually considered pretending the gun went off! SO embarrassing !!!!!

Worst costume ever: Curlers in Breathing Lessons
What drew you back to the stage and this role? Yosemite blew me away after reading it for the first time. I knew in my gut I wanted to be a part of it. I fell in love with the characters and their story.

I was terrified of the emotional journey but knew I needed to do it anyway, or actually because it was so scary. I crave acting onstage and have missed it terribly.

A few of your favorite screen roles: Maggie in "Stirs Of Echoes," Lucille in "Rich In Love," Liz in "Dream with the Fishes"
Something about you that surprises people: That I was a high school drop-out at 16 who ended up going to an alternative HS, graduating and going on to NYU.
Career you would want if not a performer: Teacher
Three things you can't live without: My kids (that's two) and books
"I'll never understand why…" ... life isn't FAIR!
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Do everything you can to feel good about yourself and don't let rejection discourage you!