theTEN with Elizabeth Reese theTEN with Elizabeth Reese
How does Elizabeth Reese really feel about the musical FIRST IMPRESSIONS? theTEN with Elizabeth Reese

Jump inside the brains of Kansas City theater artists as we ask them 10 questions that were in no way inspired by “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

What’s the one role/show you’ve always wanted to work on that you haven’t yet?

There are so many! I never thought I’d be working on Cats, and here I am with an invitation to the Jellicle Ball! I love that this unpredictable life we lead as actors takes us in so many unexpected directions. That said, Much Ado About Nothing, is at the top of my list—I’d also love to tick off all of Shakespeare’s History Plays. I love how muscular and raw they are.

What current production, besides one of your own, are you most excited about?

Given my answer above, I’m looking forward to sharing a picnic and a humid KC evening with the mosquitos of Southmoreland Park for Heart of America Shakespeare’s Much Ado. Hir and Skylight are two plays I just adore as well, so I can’t wait to see what the Unicorn and KC Actors Theatre, respectively, do with them!

If you couldn’t be in theater, what career would you have chosen?

I often wonder what life might have been like if I’d gone down another path. I love flowers, and sometimes I dream of life as a florist or as a graphic designer. I’ve been able to scratch the itch by dabbling in both those fields as a hobbyist. I like to put together floral arrangements for dinner parties and picnics, and I have enjoyed taking on design projects for friends in the past as well!

What quote or saying do people spout but is really complete BS?

I’d like to put—“Boys will be boys” out to pasture. I think it’s time to retire the desire to assign gender to a behavior, and I’m also through with hearing that phrase used as an excuse for harmful behaviors. Instead, I’d like to see us celebrate and give voice to the actions and behaviors we love!

What would you name your autobiography?

“Awkward Silences: A Life In The Theatre.”

What will finally break the internet?

Let’s be real. Beyoncé’s next album, most likely. We’re all waiting, Bey!

What well-known fictional character would be the most boring to meet in real life?

I have a feeling that I’d be really excited to meet Sherlock Holmes, but if I were to ever meet him, I’d be disappointed. He’d be fascinating, but probably a jerk, right? Maybe if I could just shadow him on a case or two that would be fun? Watch the mind at work! ?‍♂

What is a play or musical that you cannot stand?

So. (Commence my friends’ eye-rolling…) There’s this musical. It’s called “First Impressions.” Music and lyrics by George Weiss, Bo Goldman, and Glenn Paxton; book by Abe Burrows. Yes. It took four writers to bring this bit of brilliance into the universe! It is a little-known 1959 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This thing is GOLD. Polly Bergen—with her smoky alto plays our heroine, Elizabeth Bennet; Farley Granger (sounding much like a smarmy used-car-salesman from the 1970s) gives voice to Mr. Darcy; and upstaging them at every turn (and horribly miscast) is Hermione Gingold as the mother of the five Bennet daughters—Mrs. Bennet. The opening number is a sleepy speak-sung exposition on the part of Mrs. Bennet to explain the genesis of her “Five Daughters,” and the 11 o’ clock number is a song called “Let’s Fetch The Carriage,” that is anything but showstopping. My favorite number in the show, and my first introduction to the musical, is “Fragrant Flower” in which Mr. Collins speaks of his ardent devotion to Lizzy, complete with a tambourine solo and the best line reading ever of the word: “NO.” Check it out. It’s magical. It’s so so so so bad that it’s hard not to call it brilliant.

What is a play or musical that you love? 

My favorite play is Cyrano de Bergerac. I love language, and the poetry in that play is so unbelievably gorgeous. It really has everything, action, romance, music, comedy, and of course—heartbreaking tragedy. I’ve had the good fortune to work on both a workshop of a new musical adaptation called, C., as well as James DeVita’s adaptation of the play, and every time I pick the play up again to revisit, I fall more deeply in love with it. Cyrano gives Batman a run for his money!

What are you reading, watching or listening to right now? 

Reading: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. A tour of the entire culinary process with Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat as the cardinal directions on your compass, with beautiful art by Wendy McNaughton.

Watching: This has been the year of Schitt’s Creek for me. The comedy is just so good.

Listening To: Free Yourself Up by Lake Street Dive, Blood by Lianne La Havas, Clouds by Joni Mitchell. Play. Repeat.

Elizabeth Reese is a Kansas City-based actor who can currently be seen on stage in MTH Theater’s production of CATS as Grizabella. For more information visit

PerformInk Kansas City

PerformInk Kansas City is the KC area's leading source for performing arts and entertainment news.

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