2014 Best Supporting Actress in a Play Nominee Interview: Nicole Howard as Nanny in Happy Medium Theatre's "Baby With The Bathwater"

Photo by Nicholas Barton

Photo by Nicholas Barton

Before we announce the winners of the 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Awards, we are proud to present our Nominee Interviews. 

NOTE: If you or your production was nominated for a 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in a Nominee Interview, please email us here.

Nicole Howard is no stranger to the stage, having spent many years working and living in New York City's theatre community. She joins us in Boston, and we are delighted to have her. She brings outstanding comedic delivery and presence to the Boston fringe community, most recently in her turn as Nanny in Happy Medium Theatre's Baby With The Bathwater.  In her Interview, Nicole speaks about her love of collaborative theatre, her biggest fears, and her next production with the new Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company.

Nicole, thank you so much for participating in our Nominee Interview Series.  Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?  What is some of your performing background?

Sure! My name is Nicole Howard but most who know me in the theatre community here call me Niki. I studied Fine Art and Performance in New York, and then stayed there for many years.  While I was in New York I preformed Off-Broadway, and was part of a theater company, called Rising Sun Performance Company. I made the move back home to Boston about 4 years ago and I have been overwhelmingly impressed with the diverse talent and art that is produced in this city.  I’m really loving being an actor in Boston. 

What is Baby With The Bathwater?  How would you describe the story and your character? 

Baby with the Bathwater is a dark comedy about a boy named Daisy, and his two parents who are completely unprepared for parenthood. To their rescue comes Nanny, my character. She enters their home in a whirlwind.  Nanny is completely out of her mind, singing to the baby one minute and then screaming at it the next.

Had you ever performed any of Christopher Durang’s work?  How would you describe his style?  Why do you think audiences and reviewers responded so favorably this production and, generally, his work? 

I have never performed Durang before, but, after this production, I would LOVE to perform his work again. I seriously had an absolute blast each night!

Durang is wacky in the best possible way. He pushes the boundaries of normalcy, in a way that really makes an audience think. I think his characters embody some of the things that we may think about in the corners of our mind but would never do or say for fear of the repercussions. As outlandish and as shocking as some of the text and scene work were in this production it was also relatable, and downright funny. And I mean who doesn’t enjoy a full-on belly laugh?

What is your favorite kind of theatre to perform?  To see?  What kinds of theatre would you love to see more of in the Greater Boston area?

I really enjoy working on shows that collaborate with artists across genres of performance.  Ultimately, this means that it is usually new work, but there is something really magical that happens when you put a visual artist in a room with a musician, and then add a dancer and an actor and a poet or whoever else creates art in a unique way. I think that type of collaboration creates accessible theater that is meaningful to the community we live in.  This is usually the theater that I am most inspired by, and really enjoy watching too.

Photo by Josephine Anes

Photo by Josephine Anes

In Baby With The Bathwater, the main characters are afraid of being parents and having children.  Of what are you afraid?  Do you think Nanny was afraid of anything?

Mediocrity . . . I’m totally afraid of mediocrity.  I want to be a person who has the ability to do things well.  It’s strange (maybe not so strange), but I think sometimes that fear of mediocrity can be a motivator for me.

In my opinion, Nanny was most afraid of being forgotten.  Nanny needed to be needed; after all, she was a caregiver. As crazy and as incapable as she may have been as a “Nanny,” her fear of being forgotten surely influenced her behavior. 

If cost and time was not a factor, to where would you travel?  Who would you take with you?  What would you do?

There are so many places I would like to see in the world.  But, I think if I could do it, I would go live in Barcelona for 6 months and just explore the city and the surrounding area.  I have never been, but I am guessing I would find it totally inspiring and life changing.  

I’m not sure I would go with anyone.  I think being by myself in a new place would force me to explore it in a new and totally free way.  BUT if going by myself is not an option, I would go with my best friends, or my Mom.

Describe your humor.  What makes you laugh?  Has anyone ever been offended by your humor or jokes? 

I love well-placed sarcasm.  Dry and deadpan sarcasm really makes me laugh.  I hope no one has been offended by my jokes . . . but then again who knows . . . 

What is one play or musical that you would love to see performed in Boston?  Would you play any of the roles?  Why do you think that this is a good play or musical for Boston right now? 

Theatre started for me with Musicals… I have been feeling an itch to return to my roots with the “actors musical” lately. I would be delighted to see [Title of Show] come to Boston.  However, that is for totally selfish reasons because I would love to play Heidi.  I think at the root [Title of Show] is about following a dream and not giving up when you hit the inevitable bumps in the road.  I don’t know if that is unique to Boston but it is certainly a message that we could all stand to hear from time to time.

If you could improve the Boston fringe scene in one way, what would it be?  Why?

Boston and its surrounding communities are full of amazing artists brimming with creativity. I want the fringe theater community in Boston to be theater that connects me with people who I don’t know.  I would love to see Fringe theater expand beyond the areas and people it already touches.  Expanding the community provides artists with more opportunity to make and create.  I want Boston to be a place that people CHOOSE to stay and make amazing theater.

Do you have any upcoming projects or productions?

I'm really excited to be joining the cast of Elemeno Pea, with Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company this May. 

Do you have anything else that you wish to share with our ArtsImpulse readers?

Thank you for supporting Fringe Theater in Boston!