PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Tribes Star Mare Winningham

By Matthew Blank
March 6, 2012

Emmy Award winner Mare Winningham, currently starring in Nina Raine's Tribes at the Barrow Street Theatre, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.



Winningham won Emmy Awards for her performances in "George Wallace" and "Amber Waves" and was Emmy-nominated for her work in "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "The Boys Next Door" and "Love Is Never Silent."

She also received an Academy Award nomination in 1996 for her role in "Georgia." Winningham made her New York stage debut in 10 Million Miles.

She has recorded three albums: "What Might Be," "Lonesomers" and "Refuge Rock Sublime."





Full given name: Mary Megan Winningham

Where you were born/where you were raised: Born in Arizona, moved to California, King Tut! Sorry, grew up in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles.
Zodiac Sign:Taurus... but, jeez, zodiac?
What your parents did/do for a living:Mom raised 5 kids, taught English in junior high and high schools, then had a career as a high school college counselor.

Dad taught us all how to play ball, was the football coach at what was then San Fernando Valley State College, and then Chair of the Department of Physical Education when it became Cal State Northridge.

Special skills: I can play the guitar and the dulcimer and sing old country folk songs. I make challah, and I'm getting better at reading Hebrew.
Something you're REALLY bad at: Public speaking, math, blood tests
First Broadway show you ever saw: Our high school drama class came to New York to see plays. I don't remember in what order but: A Chorus Line, Chicago, The Glass Menagerie, Equus, Travesties and Pippin.
If you could go back in time and catch any performance, what would it be? Laurette Taylor in The Glass Menagerie
Steppenwolf Theater Company's Grapes of Wrath
Current show you have been recommending to friends: 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog at Lincoln Center. It was Off-Broadway last June and will be back this month. You gotta go!
Favorite showtunes of all time: "Tonight" and "Somewhere" from West Side Story
"Rose's Turn" from Gypsy
"A Wonderful Guy" from South Pacific
"Old Man River" and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man of Mine" from Show Boat
"Maybe This Time" from Cabaret
All of Porgy and Bess
Some favorite musicals: West Side Story, Porgy and Bess, My Fair Lady, Into the Woods
Some favorite contemporary playwrights: Amy Herzog, David Rabe, Sam Shepard
Stage or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: Geraldine Page, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Ethel Waters
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Peggy Lee, at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Old country folk songs
Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" album
Calla Louise and Gallop songs
Your personal acting idols: I admire the work of the actors in Steppenwolf Theater Company. And I love and learn from the people I work with, so, presently: Jeff Perry, Russell Harvard, Will Brill, Susan Pourfar and Gayle Rankin.
MAC or PC? MAC
Most played song on your iPod: "Making Pies" by Patty Griffin
Most-visited websites: YouTube
Last book you read: "Dinosaurs on the Roof" by David Rabe. Just beginning to re-read "East of Eden."
Must-see TV shows: "The Hatfields and the McCoys" on the History Channel. It's great. Oh, you haven't seen it? It's not out yet. May 2012. Oh, I'm in it?
Last good movie you saw: The Bill Cunningham documentary, and "Holiday." Saw it on a flight.
Some films you consider classics: "Sunset Boulevard"
"La Dolce Vita"
"Casablanca"
"City Lights"
"Bicycle Thieves"
"Sullivan's Travels"
"Persona"
"The Passion of Joan of Arc"
"Coal Miner's Daughter"
"The Godfather" I and II
"The General"
"Sense and Sensibility"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: John Prine
Pop culture guilty pleasure: YouTube viral videos, magazines
Favorite cities: Rome, New York, Jerusalem
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Mom and Dad bought me the "Cabaret" soundtrack album. I bought Joni Mitchell's "For the Roses."
First stage kiss: High school, The Sound of Music. I played Maria and Kevin Spacey played Captain Von Trapp.

But maybe first, also high school, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, with Val Kilmer. I swear, both those shows happened.

Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: When I saw the little girl who played Gretel in "The Sound of Music" movie. We were the same age, and I was jealous. "The sun, has gone, to bed and so must I..."
How you got your union card: I think it was 2 summers of L.A. Free Shakespeare, 35 or so years ago.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Soup and bread and wine at A.O.C. around the corner from the Barrow Street Theatre.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Late-morning double lattes from Amy's Bread or Joe's
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: In the past, when I was staying somewhere that had a television, I would crawl under the covers and watch "Cash Cab" for an hour, including a nap.

Presently, no television, I crawl under the covers and daydream/nap, maybe read the New York Times on my iPad.

Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: There have certainly been many worse, but in a recent performance of Tribes, when I was supposed to say the words "star of the crown prosecution service," I said something that bore no resemblance to those words.
Worst costume ever: Polyester pants and turtleneck over fat suit in Side Man. But I asked for it, so...
What drew you to this role? Nina Raine's writing, David Cromer's Our Town
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Mary in Long Day's Journey Into Night, Joan of Arc, Racine's Athalie, Emily Dickenson in Belle of Amherst, Winnie in Beckett's Happy Days
Leading man role you wish you could play: Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof
Something about you that surprises people: I have 5 children.
Career you would want if not a performer: Student of Judaic studies, world traveler. Can those be careers? Please?
Three things you can't live without: Trees, flowers, love letters
"I'll never understand why…" ... plastic surgery is so popular.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Use your tricks for good.