Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Maia Walter, who is performing as Annie Pazinski in Over the Tavern. Read on to hear what she has to say about her experience thus far! LA: Tell us a little bit about why this particular show interested you?
MW: From the second I read the excerpts on the website, I found that I felt really connected to the character of Annie. She and I seem to experience the same things (dissatisfaction with weight, general lack of boys, lack of good judgement at times, etc.), but it's like we're two different shades of the same color-- we react to these things much differently. I rarely cry and Annie... well, she's sort of a human faucet. I was also very interested in the subject matter of the play, being a pretty devout Christian and never running out of questions.
LA: For those who unfamiliar with Over the Tavern can you tell us about the show?
MW: In a nutshell, the Pazinski family is primarily crazy and secondarily Catholic. They're all getting along just “fine” (according to dear father Chet) until the youngest, Rudy, starts to ask... questions. -cue the frightening music!-
LA: Talk about the character that you play in Over the Tavern. How have you developed this character?
MW:A lot of people may question my sanity after this, but here goes: I talk to Annie. See, I have a really overactive imagination and I write a lot, so I'm constantly developing characters and allowing them to “live” in my mind. When their motivations confuse me, or I'm not sure what they would do in a certain situation, I just ask them. Think “imaginary friends” in a teenage brain. So Annie and I have had plenty of “conversations,” mostly about why the heck she cries so much, or why she likes being Catholic, or how she can tolerate and even enjoy those horrible yellow logs they call Twinkies. To quote the immortal Sheldon Cooper... “I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested.”
LA: Why should people come and see Over the Tavern
MW: Because I'm in it. I'm kidding. Kind of. People should come and see Over the Tavern because I'm told it's good for your longevity to laugh, and because it is just so full of heart. I think every audience member will find a character to relate to in some way, no matter their religious history or their family life. The modest setting and repeated references to the 1950s make it especially charming. It will be hard to find someone who can honestly say that they did not enjoy it, I think. Also, if people don't come, I might cry. Just sayin'.
LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?
MW: I'm seriously amazed at everyone and how, despite their differences with their characters, they have made them so honest and so delightful to watch. Alec's portrayal of Rudy is lovable and fun, not just because he's an adorable kid, but because he is so good at portraying a wide range of emotion. It very much amuses me to see Noah walk onstage and become Eddie, because I know how different he is from his character, and it's pretty incredible how convincing he is. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we can't get enough of Alex's “s*%#.” The way Valerie plays Sister Clarissa is so different from what I imagined, but what she does with every line delivery is so cool I can hardly remember my first impression of the holy Sister. And though I've never gotten the chance to say it to them before, I think Laura and Justin do a beautiful job acting like a husband and wife, whether they're disagreeing or dancing and enjoying each other. Some of the best scenes in the play include those two interacting exclusively with each other. They are too cute.
LA: What do you feel are the "wow" elements of Over the Tavern?
MW: The way it is written is so sincere, but it will definitely keep the audience laughing. It's sort of an ideal balance of softness and strength. No, wait, that's Angel Soft toilet paper... Well, I think the set is pretty fantastic, too. It gives a feeling of claustrophobia in a good way, with this huge family in a tiny apartment.
LA: Tell us what is something that you are particular excited about this show coming to together? For example, a certain scene, costumes, set, lights, etc?
MW: Oh, I'm definitely excited to rock the uniform. I also enjoy interacting with the family around the dinner table. The thing I'm most excited for has to be my longest scene, because it's my first time legitimately crying in a play. Exhausting, but so fun.
LA: Do you have any rituals or things you do to prepare to go on stage when you are performing?
MW: Native American acting dances around small indoor fires. Kidding. I usually listen to music, whatever suits me that day. Maybe I'll carry out one of those aforementioned conversations with Annie. On days when I'm especially out of focus, I run lines like a madwoman. Truth be told, I'm deathly afraid of forgetting a line during a performance.
LA: Why do you choose to spend time at Lyric Arts?
MW: Small theatre rules, man. It's so satisfying to perform for a group of people that you know you'll definitely run into in public or something, and they'll recognize you and comment on the play and for about five minutes you feel like some kind of celebrity and then your whole day is made. Everyone who works at Lyric Arts and the fellow actors (in our case, some of us are both) are so kind and incredibly fun to be around. It's a very positive and safe environment where you can grow as a person and as an actor. The building is ridiculously cool, too.
LA: What is your favorite way to spend your free time? As your character in the 1950’s, how would you spend your free time?
MW: I really like reading, writing, blogging, singing, and being with friends. I know Annie likes being with her friends too, but they probably aren't pulling out their phones every five minutes. They probably talk about cute celebrities and complain about teachers. I think Annie likes dancing and going to movie theaters.
LA: What is your dream character to play on stage?
MW: It's a tie between Ariel of The Tempest and Lady Macbeth of Macbeth. I once did a monologue as Lady Macbeth for drama class at school-- turns out being evil and slightly crazy is really fun.
LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
MW: I'm Maia Walter. I don't like my middle name, I write almost a thousand words a day, I read about as much as I breathe, I'm very smart, and I'm told I'm funny. Being onstage is my drug and Chipotle is my addiction. Sometimes I'm very annoying. Airplanes are horrible. If you take me into public, there's a good chance I'll embarrass you. I talk to strangers. I hug every dog I meet. I'm horribly irresponsible. I would tell you the name of my home planet, but it would require a second tongue to speak it. And my mom is fantastic.
LA: Any other area that you would like to comment on?
MW: If you happen to be sitting in the theatre, glance upwards. Don't those catwalks look fun?