Photo by Jessica CalkinsStill slightly hungover from the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth of July, I met director Laura Marchant of loud*R*mouth Theatre Co. and KROQ's spicy sidedish Lisa May for lunch at Chimayo's at the Beach. But this isn't a food article. This time.
In fact, the two dolls are working together on what is probably one of the best female sketch-comedy pieces ever, Parallel Lives written by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy. Parallel Lives is a grand view of the female perspective, with all the roles—even the males—played by gals, and it seems a typical project for Marchant whose Long Beach company (co-founded with Emily Duval) produces plays that provide alternate views of feminism. May is new to the acting game, although an old hat at improv comedy from four years of making Kevin and Bean actually seem funny (a big nod to Ralph Garman on that one as well).
But I wanted to know: Why this play? Why now? Why Lisa May? Instead, we talked about Lisa's rack.
Lisa May: [showing a lot of boob]I never, ever show boob. OC Weekly: That's okay—showing boob is good. You should show boob. Lisa: Well, I'm kind of showing boob right now, but not really showing boob. I mean, some guys stare, then I think I can't wear something that invites staring because then I'm a hypocrite. Laura Marchant: I was staring at your boobs. So was I.Lisa: I don't show boob that much. I don't really have that much boob to show anyway. I don't really own any shirts that show boob.Lisa: See! And you're telling me to show boob! But I wear tight, tight T-shirts to show boob. Not cleavage shots.Laura:I wear tight. Tight is good. Lisa: I like tight. So! You're doing a feminist play?Laura and Lisa: Yes!
[reads from scribbles on the back of a grocery receipt] Why this play? Why now? Why Lisa May?
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Laura: Emily and I read through hundreds of scripts and decided to do this comedy. It's funny, but there are some very poignant moments—about women, their lives, their sexuality.
[to Lisa] What about you? Have you acted before—besides your stint onReba?
Lisa: I was Gertie in Oklahoma at Estancia High School—the non-singing role! But I was really practical, so I went to Cal State Fullerton and got a degree in business. And I went to work as a money broker—and hated it. Then I went to radio school. I always wanted to act, but I didn't have the guts and didn't think I was tall enough and thin enough and pretty enough and talented enough and all that stuff you need to be. Um, for modeling maybe, but for acting, you can be a dwarf and act!Lisa: I guess. I just always saw these beautiful women and thought, "That's not me." So it sounds stupid, but the Reba thing was a really good experience, and I was pleased with how it went. And then Laura, God bless her, e-mailed me and said, "I'm doing this play, and there's a role that wouldn't be a stretch for you." Playing God.Lisa: [laughs] "Supreme Being," right! But Andrea [the other Supreme Being] and I definitely have the easiest parts in the play. The other girls, they're amazing. Laura:Well, I made you learn nine dances. Lisa: Yeah, this was so not what we agreed on. I have dancing trauma from childhood. You know, where your mother made you take tap and ballet, and during the recital, you're the only person standing there who has no recollection of anything you've learned? Shuffle, ball-change.Lisa:That I remember! But it's really fun. I mean, just going to work, and going to the gym and worrying about being fat gets so old. And after this play? What do you have your eye set on?Lisa: I don't. I don't ever really have a five-year plan. That's what I like about radio and doing this play. If you work in a bank, you know where you'll be in 10 years and there's security in that, but I'd also want to kill myself. And there's no guarantee that I'll get any further than I am now—but there's the hope and a possibility, and that's enough to keep me going. And you may be the next Meryl Streep.Lisa: Yeah—that's not going to happen. But you do have a really nice rack.
Parallel Lives by the loud*R*mouth Theatre Co. at the Edison Theatre, 213 E. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 972-3593. Opens Fri. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (in repertory, so call for exact dates). Through Aug. 10. $15.