2015 Best Leading Actress in a Musical Nominee: Andrea Giangreco as Mary Flynn in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's "Merrily We Roll Along"

Before we announce our 2015 ArtsImpulse Award Winners, we are proud to present our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series.

NOTE: If you were nominated for a 2015 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series, please email us at brian@artsimpulse.com.

Photo Credit: Sarah Ernst

Photo Credit: Sarah Ernst

Andrea Giangreco could have stolen the show as the expressive, alcoholic and passionate Mary Flynn.  However, her biggest strength as a performer in this show was her deep collaboration with her fellow cast mates, particularly with Jared Walsh as Franklin Shepherd (also a 2015 ArtsImpulse Award Nominee) and Adam Schuler as Charley Kringas.  In this way, Andrea not only held her own as a strong performer, but she made the people around her look and sound better.  Andrea brought the best out of herself and her fellow stars in this gorgeous farewell production for The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company.

In her Interview, Andrea tells us a bit more about her character, Mary Flynn; the strangest thing that she has ever done onstage (hint, it involved heights); and her newest project (we can't wait, Andrea!). 

Hi, Andrea! It is such a pleasure to talk to you after many years of admiring your performances onstage.  Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hey Brian! Thanks for the nomination!

I’m from Burlington, Massachusetts, and I have been performing since my freshman year at Burlington High School. I went to Salem State University for Communications and I currently work in Healthcare. I’ve done shows all over the Greater Boston area! 

Tell us about Mary Flynn.  Who is she?  What was her role in the musical Merrily We Roll Along?  Why was she special to you?

Mary Flynn is a writer and theatre critic and best friend of Frank Shepard and Charley Kringas. In her youth, she dreams of being a writer, and achieves success fairly early after her first novel is published. She is also hopelessly in love with Frank, but doesn’t want to ruin their friendship by confessing her true feelings. Instead, she turns to the bottle to drown her emotions. Throughout the show, Mary acts as the glue that holds the bond of Her, Frank and Charley together. When Charley and Frank start in on each other, she’s there to smooth everything all over.

Mary was special to me because I found a lot of similarities between the two of us. I’m not saying that we are carbon copies, but I found it easy to relate with what she was going through because of my own personal experiences.

I wasn’t very familiar with this show before Joey DeMita cast me, and I don’t think I realized until after we closed that Mary Flynn was the dream role that I never knew I wanted. Working so closely with Jared Walsh (Frank) and Adam Schuler (Charley) was a dream. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look for shows where we could play best friends again. I’ll never forget singing “Our Time” at the final performance.

(From left): Charley Kringas (Adam Schuler), Franklin Shepherd (Jared Walsh), and Mary Flynn (Andrea Giangreco) make a pact for their future friendship in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's  Merrily We Roll Along  (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps)

(From left): Charley Kringas (Adam Schuler), Franklin Shepherd (Jared Walsh), and Mary Flynn (Andrea Giangreco) make a pact for their future friendship in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's Merrily We Roll Along (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps)

Why do you think Merrily We Roll Along continues to resonate with audiences?

At its core, the story is relevant because it deals with making sacrifices and hard choices in order to achieve success, and how those choices affect your future.

How do you pick your roles and auditions?  What projects inspire you?

As I mentioned earlier, I want to have a very diverse resume. When I started acting, I admired the actors who could do anything—Meryl Streep, Daniel Day Lewis and Gary Oldman come to mind. When I look for auditions, I always keep in mind that I can do a lot more than just belt my face off. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of executing that. I’m dying for the opportunity to play an ingénue though! Get this girl a love story!

Projects that inspire me are always seeded in originality and creativity. I had the pleasure of working with Andrew Barbato and Cellar Door in Stoneham on multiple occasions, and I was always would leave rehearsals in awe of how creative he is. We performed ALICE! in the basement rehearsal space under Stoneham Theatre, and [Andrew] would change that very blank space into quite literally, Wonderland.

I also really give a lot of credit to theatres who try new things and out of the box ideas with their storytelling. I hope I get to see Hamilton and Deaf West’s Spring Awakening. I love directors who are unafraid to throw out the “typical” and “generic” staging of shows and go in a completely different direction with it. I know it’s hard to break the mold, but I’d love to see more of this happening!

What are some of the best performances or productions that you saw in 2015?

I had the pleasure of seeing Alan Cumming as the Emcee in Cabaret last winter, and, to this day, I get chills remembering how unbelievably good he was. He was on stage for the majority of the show and was always so invested in what was happening on stage, even when the story line didn’t directly involve him.

I also loved Titanic at Woodland Theatre. I had a lot of friends in that show and I always love seeing them on stage. Woodland always produced beautiful shows; I’m sad that I didn’t get the chance to perform more with them.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t know how surprising this is, but I played the trombone for a long time in school. SO—if anyone is looking for an actor/singer who owns a trombone—I’m your gal!

If you could have dinner with two people, who would they be?  Why?  What would you eat?

I have such a long list, but, in the theme of musical theatre, I’d love to meet Julie Andrews and Angela Lansbury. Even before I wanted to get involved in theatre, I admired these women. They created brilliant characters on stage and screen, and, in “real life,” they seem humble and hysterical. Picking Julie Andrew’s brain about bringing Mary Poppins to life and hearing stories from Angela Lansbury during her run in Murder, She Wrote would make for a fun dinner party. I would bring pizza and beer to one of their English Countryside Manors (I’m assuming they live in English Countryside Manors).

What is the strangest or most odd thing that someone has asked you to do onstage?  What happened?

When I was in Godspell at Marblehead Little Theatre, Sarah Ernst (our fearless director and choreographer) asked us to spend a better half of “We Beseech Thee” simultaneously jumping and singing on a trampoline. I faced death MULTIPLE times as I was not very good at multi-tasking singing and jumping simultaneously. I almost bounced straight off our stage and into the laps of the audience during one performance! Also, I couldn’t gauge how high to jump to stay safe, and almost collided with the light right above my trampoline every night.

 If you could perform in any other Sondheim show, what would it be?  Who would you play?  Would you want anyone to perform the show with you?

Easy. Sweeney Todd. I’ve wanted to play Mrs. Lovett since I started performing back in high school (I have Angela Lansbury to thank for this—I’ll do that over dinner). And If I could have ANYONE be in the show with me, I would want Harrison Ford as Sweeney Todd—just because.

Charley Kringas (Adam Schuler) is comforted by Mary Flynn (Andrea Giangreco) in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's  Merrily We Roll Along  (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps)

Charley Kringas (Adam Schuler) is comforted by Mary Flynn (Andrea Giangreco) in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's Merrily We Roll Along (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps)

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Yes! I was just cast as Pennywise in Urinetown at Longwood Players in Cambridge. The show goes up in May. VERY excited about this role and the cast and production team is so stupidly talented. Don’t miss this one!

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

Keep supporting Boston theatre!