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Q&A with The Cast of The Last Wife

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Q&A with The Cast of The Last Wife

This contemporary re-imagining of the compelling relationship between Henry VIII and his last wife, Katherine Parr, is a witty and powerful examination of sexual politics and women’s rights.

We asked The Last Wife cast about this wonderful play. Here is what they said:


Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

It’s a play that has many layers. Not just about the struggles that women have dealt with for centuries, but how people use power to control and manipulate.

What drew you to this script?

Katherine Parr was an unknown hero. She changed the course of history for all women. I wanted to play that woman. I wanted to live in her daily life filled with danger, struggles, and successes. What better way to do that, than peel Parr open with The Last Wife!


Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

In today’s sexual/political climate it is extremely relevant, maybe more so than it was just a couple of years ago when it was written. It’s an example of the seemingly endless struggle women have had in gaining what should be their natural rights of equality and respect.

What drew you to this script?

I was drawn by the strong writing and the chance to dive into this complex character. During his reign, Henry seemed to be both feared and beloved. A man who was a reluctant King and yet not afraid to exercise his authority.


Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

This play is relevant because there is a dire need for discussion about gender equality and patriarchal privilege.

What drew you to this script?

I was drawn to the script because I love exploring history in an accessible, contemporary, and dramatic manner. History usually never interests me unless it is told in a way that doesn’t feel static or irrelevant. This play is not only relevant but deeply necessary in this current political climate.


Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

I like this show because it is about strong women. I think men try to control what place women have where they work and in politics and pretty much everywhere and it has happened throughout history. I also think this play shows how families can change and look different. It is not about just a mom and dad and their kids, there are other people who come into their lives and change how the family works.

What drew you to this script?

I didn’t read the script before I auditioned. The part of Eddie is a bit sad because his mom died and he now has a new mom, a dad who doesn’t spend a lot of time with him, and he is just a kid who doesn’t have any control of the things that are happening in his life even though he is stuck in the middle.


Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

The personal and social issues still resonate, and the danger and intrigue is exciting.

What drew you to this script?

Who wouldn’t want to be a prince?!


Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

It seems as though every day we learn of a new person-in-power stepping down from allegations of sexual misconduct, misogyny, inappropriate behavior, to name a few. With the head of our country also steeped in such charges, now more than ever, a story about women living surrounded by such men is more poignant than ever. But even more important, a story about strong women who fought through the noise and risked death for what they believed in, in order to advance women even if it wasn’t in their lifetime, is such an important part of history to know and hopefully inspire all people in our current climate to fight for what they believe is right.

What drew you to this script?

The point of view of the story. I’ve known the story of Henry VIII through various studies of the classics and history, but never have I learned much about the women who endured him. Especially never about his last wife and all the incredible things she accomplished as a woman in those times, not just as the kings wife, but as a person in general. Plus, it’s expressed beautifully with great dialogue and complex characters. Really humanized these people, which is attractive to an artist like me when considering a project.

Get your tickets today! The Last Wife closes on February 11th.

The Last Wife: Designs and Inspirations

We are taking you behind the scenes of The Last Wife with the design team to get a glimpse into the process of creating this exciting production. Read on to find out, in their own words, where their inspirations and designs for this powerful play came about.

Veronica Murphy – Costume Designer

“This is a contemporary play about historical figures. The playwright calls for contemporary clothing so you might think that would make it easy. Not necessarily so. These are royals and we need to believe they are royals. The play spans four years with many changes in the characters’ positions – and in the case of Bess, she goes from a child of 11 to a young adult of 15. The scenes flow like Shakespeare, often seamlessly from bedroom to dining room to hallway, to conference room and so on.

A monochromatic set – we chose monochromatic costumes with touches of color, crimson for the Tudors (also the real Katherine Parr’s favorite color) and blue for the Seymour’s. Thom is, after all, a man of the sea. And the young prince follows in blue, as we are continually reminded that his mother was the beloved Jane Seymour. As Kate gains her place in the palace, her lines are less fluid and more structured and powerful, while maintaining femininity, so important in keeping Henry on her side. And once she marries Thomas Seymour, she is also in blue. Everyone is trying to please the King, save Mary, the Catholic rebellious daughter. Note the clerical lines that tie her to the church. Ironically, she is in black, like her father, but without any crimson, so as not to suggest her later nickname “Bloody Mary.” As Bess is mothered by Kate and grows into her womanhood, her dress is similar to Kate in line and color. There is also all that getting dressed and undressed, especially for Kate, making the underwear just as important as the outerwear.

A challenging project like this has to have some whimsy so – Henry has a lapel pin in the style of U.S. politicians but it is a Tudor Rose, Prince Eddie’s blue pajamas are covered in castles and dragons and the various ruffled necklines are a consistent nod to the true period.”

Sean Fanning – Set Designer

“The world is a contemporary re-imagining of Henry’s space. It is raw and modernist, and inherently masculine. At the same time, we are using simplicity and open space to make a world that is less about scenic detail and more about the emotional worlds and power play between the characters. The main inspiration for the setting is the Japanese architect Tadao Ando – who created spaces that lived between the world of a dwelling and a public arena. I was inspired by how he used containment and enclosure, and then created ways for light to stream into the container. In a theatrical context, this helps us to change the space in evocative ways. There is a trinity of antlers that always lives on the wall – these stag horns represent Henry’s savagery and love of hunting and are one of the few nods to the period. They cast foreboding shadows across the wall when lit from above.

The container acts a little as a puzzle box, and has several key compartments or openings that then support the action or change the context of the scenes. There is a center door that can be opened to reveal a glowing upstage hallway. This opening can also be raised to be a tall opening for Henry’s Commission. There’s an upstage left opening that can be slid open to reveal an oversized brutal fireplace – this is used for several locations with different furniture arrangements. Upstage right is a similar door that is slid open to reveal a concrete bed that pulls out from the wall,  and a little compartment in the wall that holds the basin and pitcher with which Henry’s wound is washed.  Stage right has a drop-down opening for liquor in the Act 1 courtship scene and elsewhere.

We are also using some grand gestures as a part of the storytelling as well as the tall velvet banners with the Tudor Rose motif for the commission scene. Two rolling tables that are used throughout the play become joined together to create a 12-foot long dining table with a chandelier that flies in for the family dinner scene. For the top of the second act, “Training Day”, a flurry of books will drop from the sky and tumble to the stage. At the end of the show, the space gets transformed to a more feminine soft environment when we bring on a set of sheer draperies that cover and obscure the container.

By envisioning this environment as a cold, masculine and harsh shell representing Henry’s space – with a sense of charged and compressed spatial volume – we have created an opportunity or invitation for Katherine to come forth into that space and rise above it, and claim power.”

Kevin Anthenill – Composer & Sound Designer

Kate Confronts Henry Scene 4

Wedding Scene 5

“When approaching the sound design and score for The Last Wife there are a few key elements which are important to director Rob Lutfy and myself. The play is a modern telling of historical figures, so I wanted to create a soundscape which had both modern, synthesized elements, as well as classical instruments such as brass and strings.  The intention when the brass is playing is to give the score a noble feel – to create a regal sense – a royal sense.

The strings are intended to center around Kathrine’s delicate touch, while still maintaining an air of class.  The synthesized elements are deployed to create pace and drive.  In a fast moving play, Rob Lutfy and I wanted to ensure the music was equally as driving.  I intend to use the Synth-Pulse as a driving undercurrent that gives the sense of the “psychological thriller” genre.”

 Catch The Last Wife through February 11th!

A Holiday Q&A with the cast of A Christmas Carol

This holiday season, Cygnet Theatre welcomes the return of the holiday classic adapted from Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of hope and redemption. The cast of A Christmas Carol will inspire the audiences with this unique storytelling experience. Check out their holiday Q&A.

Melissa Fernandes Melissa Fernandes

What is your favorite holiday movie?

My favorite Holiday movie is Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. Does that count?… I love It’s a Wonderful Life and Love Actually. But I adore Scrooged, which is the modern take on A Christmas Carol.

Eggnog – gross or delicious?

Totally delicious! But also, should never be served or sold before Thanksgiving. It marks the start of the holiday season for me.

What is on your wish list this year?

Peace on earth, good will to all. I also would totally appreciate a bike. I don’t know how to ride, so it is time to learn!

What is the most important part of the holiday season for you?

Being with my family. We are always so busy throughout the year so the holidays mean sharing at least some time together.

David McBeanDavid McBean

What is your favorite holiday movie?

My favorite holiday movie is While You Were Sleeping.

Eggnog – gross or delicious?

Eggnog is gross!

What is on your wish list this year?

I don’t have anything on my wish list except a desire for good health.

What is the most important part of the holiday season for you?

The most important part of the holiday season for me is remembering to be grateful.

Katie SapperKatie Sapper

What is your favorite holiday movie?

My favorite is The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Eggnog – gross or delicious?

No, thank you.

What is on your wish list this year?

A Polaroid camera.

What is the most important part of the holiday season for you?

Spending time with family and loved ones.

Tom StephensonTom Stephenson

What is your favorite holiday movie?

It’s a Wonderful Life.

Eggnog – gross or delicious?

Eggnog is kind of gross.

What is on your wish list this year?

To accomplish something unimaginable.

What is the most important part of the holiday season for you?


Melinda GilbMelinda Gilb

What is your favorite holiday movie?

My favorite holiday movies are A Christmas Story, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, White Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Home Alone, and A Christmas Carol.

Eggnog – gross or delicious?

I used to love it, now not so much.

What is on your wish list this year?

Peace, solitude, and new furniture.

What is the most important part of the holiday season for you?


Charles Evans Jr.Charles Evans Jr.

What is your favorite holiday movie?

It’s a toss up. My favorite classic holiday film is White Christmas. Also, my favorite movie set at Christmas time is Die Hard.

Eggnog – gross or delicious?

Oh, definitely gross.

What is on your wish list this year?

My list is pretty short this year. I have been very very fortunate. Does Santa help cover wedding expenses?

What is the most important part of the holiday season for you?

We talk about it in the show, but the holiday season does feel like the only time when people “seem by one consent to open up their shut-up hearts freely.” The holiday season serves as a reminder to slow down a little, and show compassion to the people around us.

Patrick McBridePatrick McBride

Eggnog – gross or delicious?


What is on your wish list this year?

Peace and harmony.

What is the most important part of the holiday season for you?

Spending time with family.

Catch this favorite holiday musical through December 24th!

The Drag Glossary

In case you didn’t know, Drag culture has it is own vocabulary. Here is the beginner’s guide to drag-speak. We’ve selected 20 words to get you started. What are you waiting for? Get to werk!


1. Bar Queen

n. a drag queen who only performs in small bars. Typically used as an insult.

2. Beating Face

v. to apply the perfect amount of makeup on the face, resulting in a flawless look. The term references the motion of constantly dabbing a makeup sponge or brush against one’s face.

DSC075583. Boobie Bib

n. a false breast piece worn by drag queens to give the impression of female breasts. They are often made of flesh-tone silicon of rubber.

4. Busted

adj. a dilapidated drag queen who can’t make up or style properly, looking unkempt, unrefined, unpolished, generally poor presentation.

DSC072095. Boy Name

n. a drag queen’s given name as opposed to her stage name.

6. Butch Queen

n. a masculine-looking drag queen.

DSC071027. Cakes

n. a slang term used to describe butt cheeks.

8. Camp Queen

n. a type of traditional, over-the-top drag act, with little effort at female impersonation.


9. Chicken Cutlets

n. a slang term used to describe padding worn by drag queens to give the illusion of having female hips and thighs.

10. Corset

n. an undergarment worn, that tightly fits around the abdomen of the queens to help create a proportioned, hour-glass figure.

DSC0743511. Diva

n. a slang term for any woman or drag queen who is self-important, demanding, temperamental, or hard to please.

12. Drag King

n. a woman who dresses as or impersonates a man for entertainment/show purposes.

DSC0760813. Drag Mother

n. an experienced drag queen who acts as a mentor and guide to a younger, up and coming, less experienced, or apprentice drag queen.

14. Fierce

adj. a term used by drag queens meaning to possess a good, intense, satisfying, powerful, or beautiful quality.

DSC0707315. Polished

adj. a term used to refer to a drag queen whose look is considered to be flawless, well executed, seasoned, and perfected.

16. Sashay

v. to strut with an elaborate roll of the shoulders and hips, from the ballet term chassé.

DSC0730417. Shade, or Throwing Shade

n. the casting of aspersions, bluntly pointing out a person’s flaws in an insulting manner.

18. Showboat

v. to impress in a self-aggrandizing manner, as a big well-lit, noisy theatrical riverboat.

DSC0757719. Tuck

v. to place the penis back between the legs.

20. Werk, or Work

v. a slang term to put in the effort necessary to impress or stun


Catch The Legend of Georgia McBride through November 12th!

Q&A with the cast of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-moon Marigolds

This Pulitzer Prize-winning lyrical drama tells the story of a wounded family unraveling at the age of innocence and at the age of no return. Life in the 1960s with Beatrice, an embittered single mother, resembles a hell more than a home for her two daughters. But Tillie, the youngest, finds her own way to connect the world with resilience and hope. Tillie – keeper of rabbits, dreamer of atoms, true believer in life, hope, and the effect of gamma rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.

To get to know this talented cast better, we asked them a few questions about the show and their experience.

Abby DePuyAbby DePuy (Tillie)

Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

I think Gamma Rays is relevant today because it reveals the heartbreak which results from broken families and loss. These are things that many people, unfortunately, can relate to. Tillie offers hope to the victim of loss and brokenness that a person can rise above her circumstances.

This is often described as a play with “roles for actors”. What are you most looking forward to about either your role, or working on the play as a whole?

I am super excited to work with such an incredibly talented cast who put so much heart and effort into their art. Our director Robby is brilliant, and I know he is going to propel me as an actress and create an unforgettable, unique show. Tillie is an inspiration to me because she does not allow her circumstances to define who she is or what she will become.

I am looking forward to the challenge of playing Tillie because of her complexity. She is hopeful and optimistic while looking for ways to bring her family into some kind of harmony. But she also hides or tries to be invisible to avoid conflict.

Do you have history working with any of the other actors or creative team? Have you worked on any other American Classics in the past?

I have spent the majority of my years in the musical theater world. Gamma Rays will be my first professional play and first time performing an American Classic. I am looking forward to working with the cast and creative team, who are all new friends since meeting at callbacks.

DeAnna DriscollDeAnna Driscoll (Beatrice)

Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

Anytime a play is as well written as this one, you can always find connections to our time. The characters are so rich and their dilemmas are so present and deep that I think audiences will allow themselves to have empathy for these females. There are so many issues right now that make us fearful of what is coming next. This is the exact world that these characters live in – the fear of what is coming next. It’s relatable for everyone.

This is often described as a play with “roles for actors”. What are you most looking forward to about either your role, or working on the play as a whole?

It is true that these types of roles don’t come along very often. When they do, I like to stay open and learn as I go. I have ideas, questions and feel confidant that we are going to go on a journey together as we work through this play. I believe that often times roles come to actors when they are supposed to and I am not certain yet why an alcoholic, abusive, insecure, frightened mother role just came to me. I am not going to judge it but rather run with it!

Just like all of us, the flaws in my character are deep and painful. She is a stunted woman trying desperately to raise her daughters the best she knows how. That’s a great character to have the honor to play. I feel very fortunate to share the stage with these ladies and work on this phenomenal play with Robby.

Do you have history working with any of the other actors or creative team? Have you worked on any other American Classics in the past?

No. That is actually one of the most exciting elements for me! I love the idea of working with a director and fellow artists that I have never worked with before. Every show I do, I learn something from each and every person involved and so I can’t wait to see what my new lessons are during this process.

I played Maggie in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ years ago in NYC, and I played Grace in “Bus Stop” at The Old Globe. I love the experience of doing “steeped in realism” American Classics. This opportunity is giving me another chance to experience that, which is one of the many things I am excited about.

Rachel Esther TateRachel Esther Tate (Ruth)

Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

Fear and love are universal. They lead us to almost every decision we make. This play zooms in on a family of women who are struggling to find the ways to cope, to escape fear and live thoughtfully in their love. It shines a light on the little inner struggles that consume us as we try to move along through life as siblings, parents, and humans in general. Throughout the story, Tillie discovers what it means to be special and realizes her role as a tiny, but important part of the universe. It is beautiful and captivating, structurally simple and poetic, raw and real.

This is often described as a play with “roles for actors”. What are you most looking forward to about either your role, or working on the play as a whole?

I have to say, I’m pretty psyched to be onstage with only women. This play is a goldmine for actresses as individual artists, but especially as an ensemble. It is a story of four strong and beautifully complex women that explores the strength and trials of sister/motherhood. I have never been in a cast of all female actors and I can’t wait to see what each of these talented women bring to their roles.

Do you have history working with any of the other actors or creative team? Have you worked on any other American Classics in the past?

This is my first time with this group of actors and also my first full production of an American Classic. However, this is my second time working with Robby at Cygnet. He is not only one of my favorite directors to collaborate with, but he also happens to be my life partner. I am so excited to be diving into the beauty of Paul Zindel’s words with such fantastic artists.

Carm GrecoCarm Greco (Nanny)

Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

Gamma Rays beautifully explores issues that are relevant today; poverty, alcoholism, child abuse, bullying, forgotten or throw-away seniors, educators who recognize the courage, curiosity of a child…the list goes on. Yet it really is about hope and the indomitable spirit of a young girl who rises above her miserable circumstances.

This is often described as a play with “roles for actors”. What are you most looking forward to about either your role, or working on the play as a whole?

Nanny is an enigmatic character. What does she know? What does she really see and hear?

Do you have history working with any of the other actors or creative team? Have you worked on any other American Classics in the past?

No, which is why it is so personally exciting and rewarding.

Michelle Marie Trester Michelle Trester (Janice Vickery)

This is often described as a play with “roles for actors”. What are you most looking forward to about either your role, or working on the play as a whole?

I love making people laugh and am so looking forward to providing some comic relief in the show. Janice Vickery has a special place in my heart because of her quirky humor and offbeat personality. With any script, I love diving in and investigating the text to find clues the playwright has left to help build the backstory of my character. Paul Zindel left such yummy little details about Janice throughout Gamma Rays. I am really looking forward to exploring her in the rehearsal room with Robby. I can’t wait to breath life into her!

Do you have history working with any of the other actors or creative team? Have you worked on any other American Classics in the past?

I am very excited to be making my Cygnet debut with this production! I have not had the chance to work with Rob Lutfy or other members of the cast or the creative team before so I am just over the moon. Since moving to San Diego, I have admired Robby’s directorial vision with each of his productions and Cygnet’s stellar reputation for creating powerful art. I am thrilled to be joining them on this adventure. Much of my time in NYC was spent creating and working on new work. I am thrilled to be revisiting the American Classics once again. Many years ago, I had the chance to play Laura Wingfield in one of my favorite American Classics, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. I am honored to tap into a very different character with Janice and can’t wait to share this production with San Diego!

Catch these talented actors through September 24th!

Talk to Cloudy for informations.

Interview with the Master Puppeteer

From The Lion King to Avenue Q to Hand to God, puppets have long been a part of the theatre scene. At Cygnet Theatre, this year’s holiday favorite A Christmas Carol features updated puppets designed by master San Diego Puppeteer Lynne Jennings. Jennings, a local institution, is Board President of the San Diego Guild of Puppetry, which has been creating lasting memories for nearly 60 years here in beautiful San Diego. They teach, perform, build and share the magic of puppet theatre with the community. 

We reached Lynne in her home studio to ask a few questions about her creative process.

How did you get started designing puppets for the theatre?

Lynne Jennings
Lynne Jennings

I got my start designing puppets and scripts for my own shows, and for the shows of other puppeteers. The advent of Julie Taymor’s “Lion King” and other similar productions brought the form more visibility, and with that, more opportunities to collaborate with the “regular” theatre world. Several examples of Guild collaborations with SD theatres include San Diego Symphony’s “Carnival of the Animals”, USD’s “Anonymous”, Point Loma Nazarene’s “Magic Flute”, and La Jolla Playhouse’s Pop Tour production of “Recipe for Disaster”.

Is this your first time working with Cygnet? First holiday show?

Yes, although Sean (director) mentioned wanting to eventually do an all puppet version of “A Christmas Carol” close to 20 years ago. Needless to say, I was delighted to finally be asked to work with this company.

It is not my first holiday show. We did a number for what was initially called “Christmas on the Prado” in Balboa Park, back in the days when we were in the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater. Most notably, “Joanie and the Toy Thief”, our initial production for the event and the familiar classic, “The Shoemaker and the Elves”. Adult theatre holiday collaborations have included Diversionary Theatre’s “Long Christmas Ride Home” and most recently, Stephen Metcalf’s “The Gift Teller” for Scripps Ranch Theatre in 2013, directed by Lisa Berger.

What was your assignment for A Christmas Carol? What were you looking to achieve?

I was asked to build a new, larger (3 feet high), lighter, more lifelike “Tiny Tim” that was easier to manipulate for the guys over at This led to Sean’s feeling they needed a new Young Scrooge who was similar in design to “Tim”, re-rigging last year’s “Turkey Boy”, to be closer to the style of Tim and Young Scrooge, and lastly, the two puppets of “Want” and “Ignorance”.

Foam block and patterns
Foam block and patterns

Are these a particular style?

Tim and Young Scrooge are full body, Americanized “Bunraku” style puppets, also referred to as “Tabletop”, although in this production they are not operated on a table. Turkey Boy is a soft body marionette, and Want and Ignorance are hand puppets. They were originally flat figures I made several years ago for another theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol that attached to the inside of the Ghost of Christmas Present’s cloak. When Sean decided that the figures he had been using didn’t work as he had wanted, I reworked these so they became 3D hand puppets that could appear and play from underneath the hem of the Ghost.

Young Scrooge in Process
Young Scrooge in Process

Give us some facts and figures for the show.

I ended up making two from scratch and revamping three existing puppets. There are seven total “traditional” puppets in the show. Tim, Young Scrooge, Urchin, Past, Ignorance, Want, and Future.  However from a puppeteer’s perspective, I’d say there are over a dozen in the show including Marley’s ghost chains (they are manipulated by actors from behind); the coal scuttle; the small flying versions of Christmas Present and Scrooge and more.

Ignorance and Want
Ignorance and Want

What was your biggest challenge?

Squeezing in the time to create the additional puppets. It would have been great to have had double or triple the time, but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Do you work with the actors to help them “perform” with their puppet partners? 

Normally, yes! In the majority of our collaborative work with theatres we work hand in hand with the productions’ director, teaching the actors how to bring their puppets to life. In this show, my input was minimal as Sean is highly capable and has a great eye for puppetry.

Tiny Tim and Scrooge
Tiny Tim and Scrooge

What is one thing you think audiences would be surprised to find out about these puppets?

Perhaps that they are created of upholstery foam; their general shapes cut on a band saw, and the fine detail work carved with razor blades, and curve bladed manicure scissors.

Catch this classic holiday musical (and its puppets!) directed by Sean Murray, Nov. 27 – Dec. 27 at Cygnet Theatre.