Monday, February 11, 2013

Actor Drawn to Theatre’s Magic

Emily Eiden and Jennifer Parsons in Anastasia Krupnik.
Jennifer Parsons
The magic of make-believe drew Jennifer Parsons into acting. She is featured as the Grandmother and Mrs. Westvessel, a teacher, in South Coast Repertory’s production of Anastasia Krupnik.

“The thing that got me into acting in the first place was pretending to be these larger than life characters,” she says. “And the Theatre for Young Audiences roles really ask all of us to use our entire skill arsenal: singing, dancing, tumbling and dialects. They require lots of energy and stamina. You have to give your all and I like that!”

The character of the Grandmother in Anastasia has an additional poignancy because she suffers from Alzheimer’s. For Parsons, real life provides some insights. “For a role like this, you probably know people who have gone through it, and then the key is bringing that in and pretending it’s happening to you.”

She likes how Meryl Friedman has adapted the story of Anastasia from Lois Lowry’s beloved book series. Parsons says that the three generations in the family—Anastasia, her parents and her grandmother—have something that everyone can relate to.

“Once my mom sent me an old fashioned black and white photo of a little kid who looked very serious and a little bit consternated at the proceedings at the time of the photo,” she recalls. “The kid looked like me, but I couldn’t recall the time or place. It turned out it was actually a photograph of my mom when she was little. I saw myself in her It made me realize how all older people were younger people once. And that’s why my mom and dad and grandparents were so good at making me feel better about stuff.”

Parsons hopes that audiences will enjoy Anastasia Krupnik.

“They’re the real reason I do plays! I hope that the kids hear the story and are somehow moved to think in a new way.  At least that's what I hope: to open their minds.”

Parsons’ acting ranges from television to movies to stage. Her television credits include “Bones,” “Without a Trace,” “JAG,” “The X Files” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” Her film credits include Never Been Kissed and Dragonfly.

At SCR, she’s been Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol and has been in several Theatre for Young Audiences productions, including The Borrowers, Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Bunnicula, James and the Giant Peach, The Only Child, Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business, Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!, The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) and The Brand New Kid.

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