Back from Broadway

Sally Wingert on New York, aging gracefully, and why it’s good to be home

It’s safe to say that after some three decades on Twin Cities stages that Sally Wingert has become a star—her name attached to a show at the Guthrie Theater automatically generates interest. Last year, she left us—though understandably: She was cast in La Bête, starring David Hyde Pierce, which played in London and New York for much of 2010. It’s performed in metered rhyme, a period piece with much bawdy humor. And Wingert loved it. Still, almost as soon as it ended, around Christmas, she returned to her home in St. Paul and was soon starring in plays for Ten Thousand Things Theatre and now the Guthrie: Arsenic and Old Lace. We caught up with her at a coffee shop near her home.

On Broadway:

“It was a gas! A lovefest! Though people are asking me now, ‘Don’t you want to go back?’ And what, wait tables? Be out of work? I’d go back with a job!”

“It’s very legitimizing to say I’m doing a show on Broadway.”

On David Hyde Pierce:

“I’m gonna tell you honestly: Excluding my husband, my sons, and my dad, he’s the nicest man I’ve ever met. He treated the rest of the cast so wonderfully. And erudite in the same way [as his Frasier character Niles]. Just a total mensch.”

On her long streak of success:

“I’m a known quantity here, and I think that accounts for my longevity now.”

“I did my first play in ninth grade: I was in a deck of cards in Alice in Wonderland. Then Lucy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

“I was hyperfocused in my acting ambitions. I waitressed a bit and then I got my union card at 23.”

“It’s worked out. I don’t know, I was a good person or a good beetle in a previous life I guess.”

“It is a young person’s game, and that’s the hard part of aging, especially as a woman. But I’ve always been a character actor—I’ve played, like, one ingenue in my life. When you’re funny-looking like I am…”

On Arsenic and Old Lace:

“I play one of the aunts and they’re the Kervorkians of the old set. My co-star, Kristine Nielsen, I saw her recently in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson on Broadway.”

“It’s fun to do a comedy in spring. You’re bouncing with spring fever, you’re ready to laugh.”

Learn more about Sally Wingert in “Off Broadway.”