Like the character of Chris Keller…we are falling in love with Jennifer Webb as she makes her debut at The Warehouse. And Greenville…we think you will, too. Laying out all of Ann Deever’s charms, hopes, and worries, Jennifer is giving voice to the female who simply can’t help but love the Keller boys. Jennifer was kind enough during technical rehearsals this past weekend to answer a few of our questions about her training and experience with All My Sons.
WHT: Since you are making your Warehouse debut with this show, where are you from originally?
Jennifer: I am originally from Aiken, South Carolina. I have moved around quite a bit in my life, but Aiken will always be home.
WHT: Where did you receive your acting training?
Jennifer: I studied acting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. I graduated in 2011 with many skills and tools, however I still, to this day, am unable to juggle. My movement teacher Bob Francesconi always said to me, “It’s okay Jennifer. Mary Louise Parker couldn’t juggle either.” So maybe I’ll be okay.
WHT: Where has work taken you so far in your career?
Jennifer: After graduating I found myself in Atlanta, then New York and now back down south. I’m a Southern girl at heart.
WHT: What peaked your interest about Greenville and working at The Warehouse?
Jennifer: Everyone seems to just love Greenville! Whether they live here or just come for a visit, people rave about this city. Last summer I started researching Greenville’s theatre scene, emailed David Sims who, it turns out, also graduated from UNCSA, and I snagged a spot at auditions. It was just one of those situations where everything seemed to align. Thank you, David, for helping me get in this door! Go Fighting Pickles! That’s our mascot…or was. I think they just changed it to a cucumber. Gotta love arts school.
WHT: What’s been your favorite thing about Greenville thus far?
Jennifer: There are so many things that I love about Greenville. This is a very special place. If I had to choose one it would be Falls Park. It is breath taking and never gets old.
WHT: When you begin working on a character, where do you usually start your journey?
Jennifer: I start the journey to my character by actively not thinking about my character. I read the play over and over and over as an audience member. My character is only a piece of the puzzle. I have to study the picture on the outside of the box so I know how my specific piece fits into the final product. Oh, gosh that was cheesy. But it’s very true.
WHT: What’s been the greatest challenge of working on this script or play?
Jennifer: The characters of All My Sons have such heartbreaking circumstances, but it is important not to play that aspect. It’s more interesting to see how they mask their heartbreaks to move forward and survive. Blake White has been wonderful in leading us through the nuances of each act. Everything comes to a head in act three and we have to make sure we earn that. All My Sons is not an easy story to navigate. Blake has really helped me hit each twist and turn of Ann’s story. This is the first time I’ve worked with Blake and I’ve loved every minute. I have such trust in him. He’s not going to let me make a wrong turn. I’m very grateful to him for giving me this opportunity and for his fearless direction.
WHT: And this is the first time you’ve worked on All My Sons, correct?
Jennifer: This is the first time I’ve been a part of a full production of All My Sons, however this script and Ann Deever hold very special places in my heart. The Chris and Ann scene was the first actual text I was given to work on at UNCSA. Ever since, Ann Deever has been on my list of characters I wanted to play. Thank you, Blake White, for helping me mark one off my list!
WHT: From the beginning of rehearsal until now, what’s been the biggest shift in playing Ann Deever?
Jennifer: Underneath Ann’s gentle exterior is great strength. Her tender side was easy for me to find, but as rehearsals progressed I started to find more and more grounding in her strength. As Blake says, “I’m more interested in Annie’s balls.” So I guess, finding Ann’s balls has been the biggest shift and discovery for me. Can I say balls? It is a direct quote from our director. I love Blake quotes. I wish I had written more of them down.
WHT: What was the single biggest influence upon the way you approached your All My Sons character?
Jennifer: It is always important for me to understand the world of the play I’m working on, and music can be a great way to begin that focus. About a month before rehearsals started I began listening to 1940’s music every time I opened my script. It really helped me begin stepping into the 1947 world of All My Sons.
WHT: Was there anything in the scenic, lighting, or costume design that affected your choices on stage?
Jennifer: I have been so impressed with the scenic, lighting, sound and costume design! This is a great team and their work is stunning. Each element has honestly helped me dive deeper into Ann and her story.
WHT: What was one thing director Blake White said to you or the cast that really had an impact on your work?
Jennifer: Blake told us one night, “Err on the side of human.” I love that and I’ve kept it very close to me during the rehearsal process.
WHT: Making a living as an actor means you will probably be on the move a lot and working with new people all the time. For this show, almost everyone was new to you. Tell us a bit about that experience as an actor.
Jennifer: The cast and crew have been amazing. It didn’t take long to feel at home with this group. It also helps when Mimi Wyche takes you out to lunch just days after moving here. That woman has many gifts and talents and one of them is her ability to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome.
WHT: Is there someone else’s work that you greatly enjoy? If so, who and why?
Jennifer: I have a not so secret love of bluegrass music. When other girls were swooning over NSYNC my middle school heart was infatuated with Chris Thile. Last fall I saw him perform at the Peace Center. His talent is otherworldly. If you want to know what I mean, check out his Bach Sonatas album all performed on the mandolin.
WHT: What is your next gig after All My Sons closes?
Jennifer: I honestly don’t know what’s next for me once All My Sons closes. I know that probably sounds like a scary thing to some people, but I’m just really enjoying my time here in Greenville and I have no doubt what’s next for me will reveal itself. What I do know is I am so grateful to be a part of Warehouse’s production of All My Sons. I am relishing each moment on and off stage.
Catch Jennifer Webb as Ann Deever in the Arthur Miller classic, All My Sons, from March 24th till April 15th.