2014 Best Supporting Actor in a Musical: Justin Budinoff as Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm in Arlington Friends of the Drama's "A Little Night Music"

Although we have announced our 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award Winners, we continue our Nominee Interview Series.

 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.

Justin Budinoff perfectly encapsulated Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm's pompous and aloof personality in his performance in Arlington Friends of the Drama's A Little Night Music.  His impressive and resonant baritone voice, especially in "It Would Have Been Wonderful" secured him a nomination as Best Supporting Actor in a Musical.  In his interview, Justin tells about why he participates in community theatre, his favorite meal, and a Sondheim lyric that speaks to him now. 

JustinBudinoff

Hi, Justin, can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? 

I grew up in Holliston and Sudbury, Massachusetts, and I have pursued theater and film from a young age.  I have a degree in Film Production from NYU, and I actually began acting in local theater to expand my ability to communicate with actors from a crew perspective.

What made you audition for A Little Night Music?  Did you know the story?  Had you seen the show before?

It’s always been a bucket list thing to perform Sondheim and A Little Night Music is one of my favorites of his scores, plus I’ve been an Ingmar Bergman fan since college.  I saw the film Smiles of a Summer Night in my early twenties.

Who was your character, Count Carl-Magnus?  In five words, how would you describe him?

Emotionally-oblivious thick-headed egotist!

His privileged background has allowed him to grow up spoiled and belligerent but confident, which was great fun to play.

What was the most challenging thing about this Sondheim musical?  Had you performed Sondheim before?

First time with Sondheim.  The biggest challenge was putting every aspect of performance together for “A Weekend in the Country”!

If you couldn’t play Count Carl-Magnus, what other role would you want to play in A Little Night Music?

That’s tough because Carl-Magnus was exactly the role I wanted…I guess Fredrik would be a good challenge.

What do you do in your spare time?  How do you unwind?

I’m a huge music nut, I follow blogs and online radio sites of all genres and go to as many concerts as I can.

If someone was to cook your favorite meal, what would they cook?

Roast duck.  No contest.

Pick a lyric from A Little Night Music or any other Sondheim musical that you think applies to your life right now.

“Don’t bother, they’re here.”

Why do you choose to perform in community theatre?  What makes Arlington Friends of Drama (“AFD”) different than others?

You will make no better friends than in theatre at any level, and community theatre allows you to contribute both onstage and offstage in whatever capacity draws you.  I find that there’s a quality to the house and setup at AFD that’s atmospheric and lovely; it’s hard to explain but it contributes to the spacious feel of the shows there.

Do you have upcoming projects or productions?

Currently, I am writing a short play to submit to a scene night.

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

Thank you for your interest and support of local small theaters, it helps both the arts scene and the community in general more than you can know!

2014 Best Leading Actress in a Play Nominee Interview: Katie Gluck as Becca Corbett in Hovey Player's "Rabbit Hole"

Photo by Michael Rosenzweig

Photo by Michael Rosenzweig

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.

Katie Gluck tackled the challenging role that no mother would want to play -- a mother and wife who must deal with her grief and family after the loss of her young son in a terrible accident.  Katie brought empathy and layers to her Becca, showing her as fierce as a mother bear and as fragile and unique as a snowflake. Her performance continues to resonate, winning accolades across New England for her strong, collaborative work in Rabbit Hole.  In her Interview, Katie discusses her primary role as a mother and wife, her more than a year and a half journey with her incredible fellow actors in Rabbit Hole, and even a few jokes about the many laughs of doing this play.

Thank you so much for talking with us, Katie. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?  What do you do?  Where are you from?  What brought you to the stage?

Thank you for this nomination, Brian. I was thrilled and very appreciative, especially when I saw the level of talent on the rest of the list, and particularly in my category!

I was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. When I was very little, my parents moved our family from Somerville to Burlington, and, shortly afterwards, signed my siblings and me all up for the Children’s Theater Workshop, run by the Burlington Players and Jen Howard. Jen was my theater teacher and director for my entire childhood. After high school, I took a far-too-long 18-year break from theater, but, after the birth of my second child, I was looking for something . . . else. A creative outlet and a connection to the world around me.

I went back to what I loved as a kid—theater—and auditioned for and won the part of Patti Levaco in the Burlington Players production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s other beauty—Kimberly Akimbo. I immediately knew that I found was I was looking for. The people and the community, but best of all, the work. I’m married to my wonderful husband Bryan Gluck, and we live in Billerica with our two daughters, Sara and Natalie. By day I work in Human Resources at Minuteman Senior Services in Bedford, MA.

Why did you decide to audition for Rabbit Hole?  Had you read or seen the play?  Had you watched the movie?

Rabbit Hole came into my life through a play-reading committee. I was asked to read and perform a scene cold at a membership meeting, and it was love at first sight. So when I saw Rabbit Hole was being produced at Hovey (a fantastic place to work) and directed by Michelle Aguillon (an amazing director) auditioning was an absolute must. I’d never seen the play or the movie (in fact, I still haven’t seen the movie!) but I felt Becca’s voice from the start.   I was always wary of messing with my clarity by seeing someone else’s Becca.

[Becca] is an unusual woman, in extraordinary circumstances. Literally no one in her life understands the whole of her, and I think audiences can have trouble with her too. So much of Becca lies in her interior, yet she’s never alone onstage, no monologue or other more direct route to facilitate the audience’s understanding and empathy. I was interested in making a path from the deep recesses of Becca’s pain, through into her world and how she navigates daily life, while always, always processing and simply living with her grief, and then from there out to the audience to show her to [the audience], and ask them to recognize and understand her so that they might see a bit of themselves or someone they love in her.

In one of my favorite commentaries by David Lindsay-Abaire (DLA), he mentions his motivation to write Rabbit Hole: he wanted to write about something of which he was deeply afraid.  Of what are you deeply afraid?  What would send you down a “rabbit hole”?

I agree! The story of DLA coming to write Rabbit Hole is incredible. Would that we were all be so brave to name our fear and confront it by creating art.

When I look inside myself, I’m afraid for my people—my husband, my daughters. My kids particularly because they are so little. Lots of parents, particularly parents of young children, would say that, but what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in hard truth. After the birth of my first child, I told my mom I was so relieved that the birth went well and the baby was safely out into the world because now I could stop worrying about her. Needless to say, my mom laughed in my face.

How did you develop your strong relationships with other characters and actors in the play?

Michelle Aguillon and I knew each other a little, but everyone else was new to me at the Rabbit Hole read-through. While there’s something to be said for a pre-existing level of trust and intimacy, in our case, getting to know each other while we built the foundation for our characters and their relationships was interesting and very fruitful. The ensemble of this show was incredible—Maureen Adduci as Nat, Alex Thayer as Howie, Brooke Casanova as Izzy, and Jordan DiGloria as Jason—and everyone made such wonderful specific choices all the time that there were endless combinations to play with in each moment. We all got very comfortable with each other, and some of my favorite compliments were that we really sounded like a family.

At one rehearsal with Mark Baumhardt (our fantastic Sound Designer), he didn’t realize that Brooke and I had started; he thought we were still chatting. Lots and lots of stuff came up organically and the cast brought a million ideas. Too many, really! Michelle did an incredible job of balancing what we needed in order to feel connected to each other, while always serving the play. Michelle came to Rabbit Hole with such a clear view of it that was both macro- and microscopic. She really has an almost innate understanding of each of the relationships and what they bring to the larger story, while always leaving room for the actors to bring our view into the mix. Michelle is an extraordinary director.

We all got close and laughed way more than you’d think, given the subject of the play.

What have been some of your favorite roles?  What roles would you play again?  What would you do differently?

Well, my acting resume is quite short right now. As my kids get older, I hope to do more theater, but Rabbit Hole was my fifth show at this point in my life. Besides Rabbit Hole and Kimberly Akimbo, I’ve also played Jean in Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Chelsea in On Golden Pond, and Sheila in The Boys Next Door.

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Patti Levaco in Kimberly Akimbo. She’s absolutely outrageous and a wild blast of a ride to play, but, for me, she is also forever my first part that opened up this wonderful world to me, and I’m grateful to her and to Russell Greene for casting me.

You spent a lot of time with this play.  What changed over time?  What stayed the same?  What did you learn about yourself and the play?

I have! It’s been a long stretch with Rabbit Hole, and it’s been wonderful. The layers of meaning in this script are seemingly endless. We were finding new moments and connections literally right up to the morning of the final performance two months ago, a year and a half after we started. From the beginning, we were all completely committed to honoring the author’s intent, all the time. Michelle reminded us regularly to “serve the play, always serve the play.” Through all this time together, that has stayed the same. We’re there to serve the play, this beautiful script.

What is the scariest thing about performing?  What is the most fun?

Performing is terrifying, but the scariest thing is also the most fun. While you can plan and practice forever, that moment comes when you let it go and leap, and ride the shared energy, the trust in yourself and everyone else’s work, the director’s vision, and the writer’s words. My worst and weakest nights are when I try to hang on to something and control something. It’s an act of faith. It’s a blast and super scary, both at once.

What do you like to order when you go out to dinner?  What do you like to cook?

I’ll eat (pretty much) anything, but I generally order what is special to the restaurant, or the area. Or I’ll order seasonally, which sounds healthy, but it’s really just usually more delicious.

Are you reading anything good right now?  Do you have anything on your “To Read” list?

Right now I’m reading All the Light We Cannot See, and it’s wonderful. Next up is Kate Atkinson’s new one, A God in Ruins. My favorite books I read last year were The Rosie Project and Station Eleven.

Do you have any upcoming projects or productions?

The time away from home can be hard on my family, so I try to only participate in one show a year, at least while the kids are still little. I’m looking forward to auditioning next year, and it’s exciting to see the great season selections in the area. To end this terrific season and start the next one off, I’m directing a 10-minute piece in the Hovey Summer Shorts, at the Hovey Players in Waltham. My first time directing!

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

THANK YOU for your ongoing appreciation and support of local theater! And thank you, Brian, for helping to shine a light on so much good work by so many people.