PICKSINSIX Q & A: BUNNY BUNNY
Six Questions for Dana Tretta – BUNNY BUNNY
We liked BUNNY BUNNY: GILDA RADNER, A (Sort Of) Love Story so much that we devoted this week’s PicksInSix to six questions for the enormously talented Dana Tretta, who is now appearing as Gilda at the Mercury Theater Chicago through April 15th. This is a clever, heartfelt and amazingly poignant evening in the theatre that will have you laughing and crying. Tretta brings exuberant charm to her role and that will make you long for just a little more time to savor the creativity and joy of one of our most beloved entertainers. DON'T MISS - Mercury Theater's BUNNY BUNNY! et
CWET: “BUNNY BUNNY” explores the relationship between Gilda Radner and writer Alan Zweibel who meet up at auditions for Saturday Night Live and instantly bond in a relationship that lasted for the rest of her life.
What do you think it is that first attracts the two of them? Was it love at first sight?
DT: “Our brilliant director, Warner Crocker, described their relationship best with four words: sexual, platonic, romantic, creative. I believe from their first interaction, they recognized all four of these possibilities with each other, which intensely attracted them to one another like magnets. If you’re lucky enough to meet someone where there’s an immediate spark with several layers of connection, don’t let them out of your sight!”
CWET: Although everyone comes in with a different perception of Gilda from their own experience, your performance has been universally praised for its warmth, sincerity and charm. What are a few of the choices you made in recreating the offstage character of Gilda?
DT: “After I read the script, I was thrilled that the play wasn’t a parade of Gilda’s sketches, because there’s only one Gilda, and to even attempt to be 'her' would be futile. In conversations with my director, we both agreed the goal of my portrayal would be to find the 'essence' of Gilda. From there, I dug into the script to find what Zweibel wanted to entrust about Gilda to the audience, and he doesn’t hold back. He shares her innate kindness, her love for laughter, her creativity, her insecurities, her demons, and her extreme longing and appreciation for a soulmate. I’m the lucky gal who gets to play in that sandbox with Jackson and Jason.”
CWET: There is an unique chemistry between you, the hilarious Jackson Peter Evans and the amazing Jason Grimm, who plays “Everyone Else” in this show. How bizarre was the rehearsal process and is the show still evolving?
DT: “The rehearsal process was fast and furious, so we had no choice but to hit the ground running! Thankfully, we had a director who loved the show, had wonderful ideas and opinions about the show, and was extremely positive and caring towards his three actors who very often left rehearsal feeling like we were hit by a truck. I’ll confess that after our first rehearsal, I walked to my car with an enormous smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach because the chemistry in the room was infectious and so very exciting. Once we got through tech and previews, the three of us agreed that the show is very malleable, and it’s like jumping on a moving train at the top, trying very hard not to fall off for the remainder of the show, but if we stuck together, we’d be OK. Now, in our 8th week of the run, I think we’re still white-knuckling that train, but thankfully, have been evolving, listening, stripping away, strengthening, and growing together. It’s a rush every night.”
CWET: With the passage of time, some have said that the show is even more relevant now than when it was first produced Off-Broadway in 1997. Do you agree, and, if so, what do you think has changed?
DT: “Personally, I think the show may be more relevant now for one reason: cancer. It’s almost 30 years since Gilda passed, and that monster is still ravaging our world. I palpably feel from every audience the affect it has had on their lives. And like Gilda, who decided to write a book about her experiences to possibly help others, I hope this play reminds people that we can never give up the fight, we can never stop supporting each other, and we can never stop laughing.”
CWET: Can you discuss any surprises that have happened during the run or perhaps a moment when you felt particularly inspired or emotionally connected to the character?
DT: “I’ve felt connected to Gilda since I was a little girl. I’ll never forget seeing “Haunted Honeymoon”, and there was this actress, who didn’t look or act like the usual actresses that headlined movies, and that’s exactly why I loved her immediately. I was drawn to her “otherness”. This show has only cemented my love and connection to her. We share some darknesses. We have the same fears. We both use humor to get through the madness. I only hope I find my own Zweibel someday. That being said, I’m blessed to portray an idol of mine alongside Jackson, who challenges and allows the deepest of connections every single show.”
CWET: The play covers a specific period of Gilda’s career, a sort of backstage view through the eyes of someone who cared deeply for her. Can you point to a few aspects of her legacy that have a deeper meaning to you now as a result of playing this role?
DT: “Gilda has taught me the following: Always be kind - to everyone. Try to exude confidence even when you are afraid, but allow yourself to be scared. Open your heart and mind to others. Laugh as much as you possibly can. Never stop fighting for what you believe in.”
PHOTOS|Brett A. Beiner
BUNNY BUNNY: GILDA RADNER, A (Sort Of) Love Story
Written by Allan Zweibel
Directed by Warner Crocker
through April 15th
Mercury Theater Chicago
3745 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL 60613