Alexandra May: Never Crunchy!

As the level-headed and grateful Nina, Alexandra May is making her debut and wrapping up a few hearts in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. She sat down with us recently for a few kind words. Get to know her and see the closing performances of her Warehouse debut this weekend!

WHT:  Given that you are new to our audiences, could you share with them where you went to school and where you sharpened your skills?
Alexandra:  I received my Bachelor of Music and Master’s of Music in Vocal Performance from Kent State University. When we moved to North Carolina, I also had the opportunity to train briefly at NYS3, a fantastic acting conservatory in Asheville.

WHT:  Where are you from originally and where do you now call home?
Alexandra:  A Midwesterner at heart, I’m originally from Youngstown, Ohio.  We currently live in Greensboro, NC where my husband is finishing his MFA in Acting at UNCG, and as of sometime this summer, we will be pursuing our dreams in the big NYC.

WHT:  How have you enjoyed Greenville thus far?
Alexandra:  Sweet.  Potato.  Cake.  Need I say more?

WHT: I must find this elusive sweet potato cake that you and Katherine speak of! It wasn’t too long ago that you were still in an academic setting. What’s your experience been like making the jump from academic theatre to being a working professional actor?
Alexandra:   When I graduated, I didn’t have a spotlight focused on exactly what I wanted my life to look like.  All I knew is that I wanted to be onstage, whether that be performing Mozart, Sondheim, or Durang, and I wanted to spend as much time possible with my husband, Taylor.  My mentor taught me that there was nothing wrong with asking the universe for all of those things.  It’s a crazy, fun, scary balancing act that I wouldn’t trade for anything…most days. 😉

WHT:  With that jump, has there been anything of significance that stands out about being a working actor?
Alexandra:  Every audition, rehearsal, performance is a gift, an opportunity to make art.  That I love my profession so much to feel that lucky to go to “work,” I am so grateful.

WHT:  Is there a person that greatly influenced you or your career along the way? If so, what did they do to shape you?
Alexandra:  Too many to list!  I am lucky to have the longest list of teachers and mentors throughout my life, from my kindergarten music teacher to new coaches and fellow actors, that have shared their love of their craft with me, and every one of them has shaped me.

WHT:   What’s been your favorite part about the rehearsal process for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike?
Alexandra:  It was a truly collaborative process.  Everyone in the room was sincerely working toward the same goal and considered each other equal partners in that venture.  We were a great team with a great captain. #MarkWaldropIsTheBest

WHT:  What’s it like to work with a script for the first time?
Alexandra:  It’s so exciting to work on a script or a score that you’ve never experienced before. The possibilities are endless. Especially if it’s a new play, as Vanya and Sonia… is, there haven’t been a gazillion previous productions, and you have the freedom to find your truth in the character without anyone else in your head.

WHT:   This was your first time working with Mark Waldrop, correct?  How did you find the experience working with him?
Alexandra:  Yes, this was my first time working with Mark, and I pray it won’t be my last.  Mark is an actor’s director. He really creates an environment that you feel fully supported to bring your truth to the character.  He came in with a vision, but allowed his vision to be shaped and colored by what we, as the actors, brought in.  As an actor, when you know you have that level of trust from your director, it really lifts you off the ground.

WHT:  Your character in the show is surrounded by some very eccentric other characters.   You almost serve as a stabilizing presence in the show given who is around you.  Did that affect your choices while creating Nina?
Alexandra:  Yeah, it’s a challenge to play the straight man, the one who sets up the jokes, not necessarily the punch-line lander.  I felt like the key to making my portrayal of Nina truthful was to really invest in her relentless optimism.  She’s “just so happy to be included.”

WHT:   Often actors find that certain scenes in shows are just flat out fun to play every night.  Is there a scene in this show that bubbles to the top for you?  That you simply look forward to playing every single night?
Alexandra:  My favorite scene is the one where Nina and Vanya become friends.  Playing with Tim Ewing is so natural and fun.  I love discovering that connection every night.  Plus, I’m wearing a big poofy princess dress.  Always a bonus.

WHT:  Sometimes in the more absurd comedies, themes can get lost in the midst of all the action.  Are there certain themes in this comedy that truly struck a chord with you?  How does that affect your work as an actor?
Alexandra:  The theme that really hits me in this play is that every ending is a beginning.  When one chapter in life is coming to a close, it’s because another adventure is starting.  This is everything to me in my life as an actor.  Everything is temporary, so love it for as long as you can, thank it for being here, and let it go, so another wonderful moment in life can come along.  Clinging to what might have been or what you didn’t do only prevents you from doing something with today.  Woah, man, heavy.

WHT:   Is there a play or musical that you’ve not worked on yet that you’d really love to take a shot at?
Alexandra:  I am dying to be in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, which coincidentally is an adaptation of one of Nina’s favorite films that she mentions in the play, Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night.

WHT:  Any question you did not get asked that you want to be asked?
Alexandra:  Creamy or crunchy?  And my answer?  Creamy peanut butter.  Get out of here with that crunchy mess.

WHT:  Next project is?
Alexandra:  Rosa Bud in the premiere of a new 90-minute version of The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Theatre Raleigh in May.  We’ll be collaborating with its Tony-award winning writer and composer, Rupert Holmes!

Get your tickets now and catch Alexandra May on The Warehouse Theatre Main Stage in the hilarious Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike!