O’Connor talks about his role in “The Cake”, his first time on the Schenectady Civic stage – The Daily Gazette

SCHENECTADY – Josephine O’Connor has realized for a while now that occasionally some very nice people don’t always agree on the issues of the day, and Bekah Brunstetter, author of the 2019 play “The Cake “, obviously agrees with her.

“She writes characters who might have a different point of view than yours, but she humanizes them and you can still love them,” said O’Connor, who plays Della in the Schenectady Civic Players production of Brunstetter’s work. which opens Friday and is taking place. until May 22. “My character has a very good heart and his main motivation is to make the people in his life happy. She wants us all to live in harmony.

Loosely based on the Colorado case in which a gay couple sued a bakery owner for refusing to bake his wedding cake, Brunstetter’s play opened in New York in 2019. Della, a bakery owner, is thrilled to see a close friend’s daughter return to her hometown. But when the woman announces she’s gay and wants Della to bake her wedding cake, Della, a conservative Christian, isn’t sure how to react. Sara Paupini directs the production, which includes David Orr as Della’s husband and Monet India Thompson and Elizabeth Sherwood Mack as a young gay couple looking for a wedding cake.

“Since my character couldn’t have children, she was like a surrogate for her friend’s daughter,” O’Connor explained. “But she never had a clue that the girl was gay. So it’s kind of a mind blowing event for her and she doesn’t know what to do. But even if you don’t agree with her , you don’t hate her.

Originally from Ravena who now lives in Glenmont, O’Connor was involved in local theater for much of her life before taking a break just over a decade ago to raise a family. She returned to acting in 2018, performing key roles at the Albany Civic Theater in “Appropriate” and “Gingerbread Lady.”

“I dropped out for a while because I had small children, then in 2018 I was like, ‘oh my God, it’s been 10 years, I need to get back into acting,'” O says. ‘Connor. “I love playing, and I guess I do it because I can’t not. It’s my calling. So I got back into it, and then COVID shut it down.

Now in her 40s and a French teacher in the Albany school district, O’Connor says she still has plenty of exciting roles to play.

“I think my character is supposed to be in her 50s, and a lot of the show is about her relationship with her husband,” O’Connor said. “So I’m playing a little bit older, but I really don’t think of myself as older, and I just don’t get upset about not being able to play the ingenue anymore. There’s still a lot of games interesting to play, so I haven’t given much thought to getting older, I don’t see that as a problem.

She also really enjoys the audition process.

“I love auditioning and I think I can say my batting average, if I can put it that way, is pretty good,” she said. “If I don’t get the part, I’m just like, ‘You weren’t supposed to get it.’ I’m pretty philosophical about it. I know some actors hate to audition and get upset that they don’t get a part, and I know you have to deal with rejection. There are times when I’m disappointed, but if I don’t get the part, I just tell myself that it wasn’t my role, and that takes me in another direction.

“The Cake” is O’Connor’s first time on the Schenectady Civic Playhouse stage.

“I’m so excited because this is my first time with the Schenectady Civic Players, and also my first time working with Sara Paupini and these cast members,” she said. “It’s like a breath of fresh air to get back to acting, and Sara has been wonderful to work with and the cast is lovely.

While “The Cake” is O’Connor’s first experience with the Schenectady Civic Players, Orr has been on the theater stage five times. He played key roles in “And Then There Were None”, “Moonlight and Magnolias”, “School for Scandal”, “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight” and “The Time of Your Life”, all on SCP. He has also performed at the Curtain Call Theater in Latham and the Home Made Theater in Saratoga Springs.

Both Thompson and Mack make their SCP debuts.

Thompson, who lives in Schenectady, has appeared in several locally produced films and has also worked with the Black Theater Troupe of Upstate New York and Albany’s Harbinger Theater.

Mack, also known for her makeup work on local stages, most recently performed at the Schenectady Light Opera Company in “In The Heights” and “The Glorious Ones.”

Paupini, a Shaker High graduate and local lawyer, has been on the Schenectady Civic scene since 2005. She’s leading for the first time.

Brunstetter, the playwright, set her story in a small town in North Carolina. A native of Winston-Salem, she went to school at the University of North Carolina and earned her MFA at The New School. She has extensive writing credits for the stage and has also done television work, including writing and producing the popular NBC crime drama, “This is Us.”

‘The cake’

WHERE: Schenectady Civic Playhouse, 12 South Church St., Schenectady
WHEN: Opens Friday and ends May 22; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $20
MORE INFO: Dial (518) 382-2081 or visit www.civicplayers.org. Proof of vaccination and mandatory masks

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