As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to some of our favorite artists to see how they are coping with the self-isolation on a daily basis, both physically and creatively.
The series continues with Tony winner Linda Lavin, who is probably best known around the country as the Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning star of the 1976–1985 CBS comedy Alice, the funny, often touching sitcom about a working single mom/occasional singer and her young son that was based on the Oscar-winning film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.
Theatre fans, however, know that Lavin is the consummate stage actor, equally thrilling in musicals, dramas, and comedies; in fact, she has a particular knack for making the comedic seem dramatic and the dramatic seem comedic. Her expansive theatrical résumé boasts a Tony Award for her work in Broadway Bound, Tony nominations for Last of the Red Hot Lovers, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, Collected Stories, and The Lyons, and three Drama Desk Awards for her performances in The New Century, Broadway Bound, and Little Murders. During the quarantine, Lavin, whose new album Love Notes is available on Club44 Records, is offering Wednesday afternoon Facebook Live concerts with Billy Stritch as well as humorous sketches with Aaron Weinstein, playing the fictitious agent Yvette Slosch.
What is your typical day like now?
I wake up at 6:30 AM when my little dog Mickey jumps off the bed and sits to stare at me like a five-year-old child. I get the gist, and it’s time to go. We suit up in my mask that was handmade by my dear friend Craig Ames, the costume designer. In the park there are about three or four other people at that hour. We come back and make breakfast for him and coffee and something toasted for me. I turn on the news to get last night’s updates, then I sometimes go to the grocery store. I spray everything when it comes home with Lysol. I am living alone with my dog, since my husband is in a country where the borders are closed, so he can’t get here and I can’t get there. Sometimes during the day I cook for friends. I walk Mickey again in the afternoon and sometimes have supper early. In the evening, I play the piano, I sing. I think of songs I want to hear out loud. I read books, I meet people on Zoom. I talk to friends in spiritual programs—those connections have become extremely satisfying and important to me. The days are pretty much the same, but it’s about my attitude, about how I can be real and in the moment.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
I’ve been binging Medium, which stars Patricia Arquette and Jake Weber. The series had seven seasons, and it’s a mystery where she plays a psychic. I watched it during its early days but not as much as I watch it now, when I watch two episodes a day. I’ve also been watching Touched by an Angel. I was actually on the show once, so I keep looking for the episode I was on, but I haven’t found it yet! I am very taken with the talent, the writing, the direction, and look of both of those programs. The quality is just great.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation?
Instead of actually giving advice, I can at least share my experience. Connect with people. Reach out and know that you’re not alone. Somebody else is also having those moments, and they will be so glad to hear from you. And in just connecting you will find that you lighten up. In the midst of the conversation, you will find the humor in yourself, the love you have for each other. You will feel better in the moment. That’s what's happening for me. Don’t go into your head alone, it can be a dangerous place. Get it out. Talk about what’s going on.
How are you keeping your creative juices flowing?
With Billy Stritch, who produced my new album, I do a series of weekly online concerts on my official Facebook page, which we’re able to do since we live in the same building. We play songs from the album and requests from fans and friends. I’ve started doing a wonderful series of scenes with Aaron Weinstein, who is not only a virtuoso violinist and mandolinist in the jazz world, but also a comedy writer and a performer. He wrote this character for me named Yvette Slosch, and I play his agent. Aaron writes these scenes, and I tape my sections to send to him, then he edits them as little vignettes. We’re hoping to get a series out of it!
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I came back to New York in March to start work on The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman, Joshua Harmon, and the late Adam Schlesinger, who wrote the music, with Anne Kauffman directing for The Atlantic Theater Company. When the city closed down, the play was postponed. Adam died from the virus shockingly and tragically. We don’t know what’s going on since all events through June have been canceled. So I am happy to have the Facebook concerts and my sketch with Aaron to keep me busy.