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Stage Stories

From wardrobe malfunctions to nude scenes to celebrity sightings, actors reflect on 50 years behind the curtain at the Guthrie

Stage Stories
Photo by Guthrie Theater

(page 1 of 2)

The Guthrie Theater is marking half a century with a gala and an open house. We asked some of its most beloved employees, including one who was there at the beginning, for their favorite memories.

Guthrie debut: 1966 • “I moved back to the Twin Cities from L.A. in 2003 and got the role of Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. I remember our first curtain call—the waterfall of applause on all three sides. I’d forgotten entirely what that was like. It was emotionally overwhelming.”

Guthrie debut: 1967 • “We auditioned on the actual thrust stage and were allowed to watch the others audition, which is highly unusual. During the process, I saw three company actors cross upstage. These were my idols; I wanted to reach out and touch them. I felt so privileged to be sharing a stage with them, to be at the Guthrie. Broadway, Hollywood, other major regional theaters—nothing compares to this place.”

Guthrie debut: 1985 • “We used to bump into musicians all the time at the old theater.  I remember watching Roger McGuinn rehearsing “Eight Miles High”—just casual as shit, playing with his band. I saw Todd Rundgren in his dressing room. We’re still in our toddler years in the new place. Hopefully in 50 years they’ll look back at us and feel that way, too.”

Guthrie debut: 1981 • “The old theater had a bar called the Dram Shop. It was only for people working at the Guthrie. It had big leather couches, darts, a pool table, a card table. It would stay open as long as people were there. When Garland [Wright] was the artistic director, the bar would be blue with smoke. He was an outrageous smoker—four packs a day.”

Guthrie debut: 2009 • “Caroline or Change (2009) was an extraordinary experience. None of us realized how life-changing it would be. It was so empowering to have Tony Kushner around. You could always find him to ask questions, pick his brain. He’s so warm and kind and generous.”

Guthrie debut: 1999 • “M. Butterfly (2010) was all kinds of scary and exhilarating—a mental and emotional Olympics. Especially the whole being-naked-on-the-thrust-stage thing. I remember Peter [Rothstein] telling me it was going to be a bare set for that scene, like two fighters in an empty stadium. We did a lot of variations of when to put the robe back on, trying to figure out how long was too long to be naked, what’s the most elegant way to put underwear back on. It’s distracting for the audience if you’re naked too long.”

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