A hilarious 5QF awaits!!
Jenni Ryan has a love-hate-love relationship with all things theatrical. She teaches English and theatre at Nerinx Hall, where she also directs musicals and plays and tries to empower those young women. Beyond education, Jenni is an actor in plays and musicals about town. She is Associate Artistic Director of Insight Theatre Company. Current projects: The Company, a web series that lovingly satirizes the small professional theatre company, and On Golden Pond, Insight’s next show in the 2017 season—and first season at the .zack.
Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
My parents were actively involved with the Springfield Muny Opera when I was small, so my summer memories were of running around the outdoor theatre, hanging out at the makeup mirror with mom, getting a Mr. Goodbar from the concession truck, and catching tiny white frogs in soda cups. [And singing “Let me Entertain You” at the laundromat.] My first meaningful performance experience was as a 10-year old. I was part of the bicentennial celebration in this youth touring company –Bicentennial Horizons of American Music [BHAM]. It was the original bus-n-truck—we played in parks, by the Arch, etc., out of a truck-turned stage space. Song, dance, scenes. Overalls. St. Louis humidity.
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
Don’t read the reviews.
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.
Just one? I have so many! Being early pregnant and dealing with morning sickness at night [show time] was, well, tricky. But for real, a few years ago, in On the Verge, fellow actor [Ed Reggi] ran into a boom offstage and went down! Missed his entrance, of course. The brilliant Susie Wall saw, and ad libbed that she saw someone coming, left stage to check it out, and then called for a hold. As we stopped the show and brought up the house lights, I, feeling very self-conscious and worried about Ed, did a time step. [That’s the appropriate response, right?] Not a good one, mind you, but I guess it was my way of joking with the audience and easing tension. Ed was fine, but did go to get stitches, I think. We did not finish the show that day. Audience was invited back.
Q: What is your dream role/show?
This changes daily, especially as I age out of those dream roles. But since I was 20, I have longed to do Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?
I find re-watching certain series a comfort—much as toddlers do!—so I have probably watched The Office in its 9-season entirety at least 9 times. But I am a fan of all things BBC, too, so I am always on the lookout for the next UK anything.
Thank you Jenni!!!
Grace Austin is an STL based director and educator.
See her work at gracemaustin.com