If you know me at all, you know I am a self-professed musical theatre junkie. I even occasionally flirt with the idea of ditching grad school and running away to join Broadway. An impractical life plan if there ever was one, but one that has appealed to me in some way or another for as long as I can remember. As a result, I think about the practicalities of life in musical theatre more than most, and I am particularly interested in the role of age in stage productions. How old is too old to play a role? Could I, creeping up to 30, convincingly play the teenage Natalie in Next to Normal? At what age is an actress, for this does seem to be, as it is in Hollywood, a larger concern for women than for men, relegated to “mother” roles?
Since I think about this so much, I was thrilled to come across Melissa Errico’s article in the New York Times Theater section, “I’m 46. Is That Too Old to Play the Ingénue?” The piece is witty, well-written, and thought-provoking. I so wish I could go and see Errico’s new take on Sharon. As always, the first bit follows and the “keep reading” link will take you to the rest on the original site.
The ingénue police are at my door.
Is this Melissa Errico? The actress? Do you understand that Sharon in “Finian’s Rainbow” should be around 27 years old? Would you please come with us?
Then I wake up.
Sleeping actors are known to forget their lines, or what play they are in, or where their pants have gone. When I was offered the chance to perk up my curly curls and scrub up my Irish brogue to portray the fairylike Sharon McLonergan in a coming Off Broadway revival of the musical “Finian’s Rainbow,” this version of the actor’s dream crept into my subconscious and made plain thoughts I was already thinking: At age 46, when does an ingénue hang up her ponytail? When is it time to stop dancing with leprechauns?