Ted Sod: Where and when were you born? What made you decide to become an actress? Where are you getting your training? Do you have any teachers who you feel have had a profound influence on you?

Jordyn DiNatale: I was born and raised in New Haven, CT. That is why I was so thrilled to do the first run of Napoli, Brooklyn at Long Wharf Theatre, a theatre I grew up seeing shows at. I made the decision to be an actor professionally when I was about twelve years old, but I fell into it earlier than that. When I was seven, my older brother was auditioning for Carousel at Act 2 Theatre which is also in New Haven. I asked my parents if I could audition too and they were shocked because I was a very shy kid. I sang the only song I knew, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and the next thing I knew I was in the chorus. I performed in a few more plays at Act 2 over the next three years. Acting in that old, haunted theatre is one of my favorite memories. I've collected many ghost stories from there! When I was twelve, I told my parents that I wanted acting to be my career. From that moment on, they never stopped helping me make that a reality. I received some of my training from Educational Center for The Arts (ECA) in New Haven. Most of my training is from different acting teachers in NYC. The teacher who has had the most influence on me is Anthony Abeson. He always helps actors find the humanity in their characters and reminds us how important the actor's role is. He reminds us how the writer is saying something to the world with their words and is entrusting us, the actors, to deliver that message. Anthony is just an amazing person and fantastic coach and his classes have really helped me feel comfortable tackling challenging work. My peers in his classes are the most loving and supportive people and it makes the whole learning environment so special.

TS: Why did you choose to play the role of Francesca in Meghan Kennedy’s Napoli, Brooklyn? What do you think the play is about?

JD: I really fell in love with Meghan's script. Seeing a story that features strong female characters is definitely inspiring. And I like that it centers around a close Italian-American family because growing up in an Italian family myself, I can relate to a lot of the family dynamics. The emphasis on cooking and the way that food impacts the Muscolino family's daily life is a quality that is also close to my heart. This play is about so many things for so many people. That is what I think is so special about it, it has the ability to touch everyone in all different ways. The struggles of being an immigrant, the clash of old world and new world values, finding who you want to be while everyone around you is telling you who you have to be, having dreams but not knowing what to do with them. After reading the play through for the first time, it reminded me of the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes in which he asks, "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?" I feel like all of the characters in this play are at their breaking point and they all explode in their own ways.

TS: How is this character relevant to you? Will you share some of your thoughts about who your character is with us? What do you find most challenging/exciting about this role?

JD: Francesca is bold and fearless. She questions everything she's been taught. She knows what she wants and she tries her best to make it happen. I can relate to Francesca in this way. It sounds silly, but when I was younger I loved learning new words. Whenever I learned a new word, I would try to use it in as many sentences as I could (annoyingly so!). I remember when I learned the word persevere. I loved it! Whenever I finished something difficult I would proudly tell my parents that I persevered through it. Perseverance became a part of my identity, as it is very much a part of Francesca's. Playing Francesca is exciting and challenging because I am portraying a character based on a real person, Meghan's mom. There is a huge responsibility in that. Also, I am often cast as a meek character who is trying to find herself. It is exciting to play a character who knows so definitively and unapologetically who she is and instead of trying to find herself, she is trying to find where she belongs.

Erik Lochtefeld, Michael Rispoli, Alyssa Bresnahan, Jordyn DiNatale, Elise Kibler and Lilly Kay rehearsing for NAPOLI, BROOKLYN. Photo by Jenny Anderson.

TS: At this point in your process, how do you understand Francesca’s relationship to her sisters?

JD: Francesca has a tug-of-war relationship with her whole family. She loves her sisters, but she doesn't think they see her for who she really is. And that is really all she wants. I think she is closest to her sister Vita and confides in her the most. Vita likes philosophy and questions things too, so I think Fran has learned a lot from her and thinks Vita is the smartest person she knows (besides herself!). Fran and her eldest sister, Tina, have less in common, but I think Fran really admires Tina's physical strength. Fran knows that Tina will always be there for her and ready to protect her, which makes Tina a really comforting presence in Fran's life.

Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Napoli Brooklyn

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Interview with Teaching Artist Henry Decker

Posted on: May 16th, 2017 by Sarah Kutnowsky


Teaching Artist Henry Decker has worked with Roundabout for the past two years. During the school year, Henry leads classroom and after-school residencies at Roundabout Partner Schools, develops curriculum for Roundabout’s Theatrical Workforce Development Program (TWDP), and facilitates workshops on carpentry skills for the TWDP fellows. Over the summer, Henry serves as a carpentry mentor for the Student Production Workshop’s summer ensemble.

Education Coordinator Sarah Kutnowsky spoke with Henry about his path to teaching artistry and his work with Roundabout.

Henry working with fellow Teaching Artists and educators at Roundabout’s Theatrical Teaching Institute

Sarah Kutnowsky: Tell me a bit about yourself and your artistry.
Henry Decker: I am a retired firefighter, having served for twenty years with the FDNY. Prior to that, I was employed by the Rouse Company - a shopping mall management firm. With Rouse, I assisted the marketing director and also was responsible for mall displays such as Santaland and the Easter Bunny Village. I did this at several shopping centers in the tri-state area. This was my entry into set construction. I'm also a magician, performing at local restaurants and private parties.

SK: How did you come to be a teaching artist? Could you share your first arts education experience?
HD: I first became interested in the role of teaching artist after meeting Roundabout Teaching Artists Carrie Heitman and Chad Yarborough at Curtis High School on Staten Island. As a parent, I helped out each year with the sets at Curtis and at IS61 before that. Through helping out as a volunteer, I taught many students over the last ten years the art of stagecraft.

SK: What is your favorite part about working as a teaching artist?
HD: I really enjoy meeting teachers and students throughout the City and watching them learn through theatre.

SK: Could you share a memorable lesson or moment from your time as a teaching artist at Roundabout?
HD: Last year, I worked with a class of students who didn’t really seem too interested in the work. But at one visit, I started the lesson with a crazy inciting incident, and was shocked that the students actually stood up and participated! Also, working with the Theatrical Workforce Development Program has been extremely rewarding. I’ve really enjoyed teaching the fellows carpentry, load-in, and strike skills through hands-on workshops and site visits.

SK: Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
HD: I look forward to continuing my work with TWDP. I'm really excited for the second cohort of TWDP fellows to begin!

Related Categories:
Education @ Roundabout, Teaching Artist Tuesday

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Posted on: May 10th, 2017 by Todd Haimes


Elizabeth McGovern

Elizabeth McGovern

I’m thrilled to announce the first play on the American Airlines stage for the 2017-2018 season: Time and the Conways by J. B. Priestley, directed by Rebecca Taichman and starring Elizabeth McGovern. This masterful play premiered on the West End in 1937 and on Broadway in 1938, and its unique explorations of time and destiny are just as shocking and relevant today as they were to audiences back then. I couldn’t be happier to be bringing Priestley’s classic back to a Broadway stage.

Elizabeth is a Roundabout alum, having appeared as Ophelia in our 1992 production of Hamlet. Elizabeth has built an incredible list of onscreen credits, perhaps most notably playing Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, in Downton Abbey, a role for which she has been nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Emmy. She has appeared in other such films and television series as Ordinary People, Once Upon a Time in America, Johnny Handsome, “Three Moons Over Milford,” Kick-Ass, and Showing Roots, and she earned both an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the film Ragtime. I am very excited to welcome Elizabeth back to the Roundabout stage.

Rebecca will be making her Roundabout debut, though you’ve certainly seen her work before. Most recently garnering a Tony Award nomination for her direction of Indecent on Broadway, Rebecca has an extensive list of New York credits to her name, including shows at LCT (How To Transcend A Happy Marriage and The Oldest Boy), Playwrights Horizons (Stage Kiss, Familiar, and Milk Like Sugar), LCT3 (Luck of the Irish), New York City Opera (Orpheus), and Classic Stage Company (Orlando). She also directed The Old Globe’s 2014 production of Time and the Conways. I am thrilled to have Rebecca join the Roundabout family.

Performances are set to begin September 14, 2017 with Opening Night scheduled for October 10, 2017.


Todd Haimes
Artistic Director/CEO

Related Categories:
2017-2018 Season

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