August 5, 2013

Maine actress turns big risk into rewards

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

PippinMusic Box Theatre
click image to enlarge

Portland native Andrea Martin performs during a production of “Pippin” at Broadway’s Music Box Theater, where she plays a robust older woman with secrets to share with her grandson.

Photo by Joan Marcus

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Andrea Martin, an actress for 40-plus years, has won Tony Awards for her stage work, appeared in films and on television, and done voice work on “The Simpsons.”

Photo by Don Dixon

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She insists she has not made up her mind. But in an hour-long conversation, she said it has been her history to leave a show on top. Including the time she spent workshopping, rehearsing and opening "Pippin" at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., last winter, she will have played the role for about a year.

That's long enough, she said.

"The longest I have ever stayed in a show is nine months," she said. "I like to be continually good, and I think after a while, audiences change. They give you different reactions. I don't want this to end where I am bored walking through it, or being angry because the audience isn't robust.

"I want to end on a good note. At my age, I want to experience more. I don't need to stay in a show a long time. There are other people who like the security of it. They really love it. They can stay in a show for two years, three years. It's just never been my thing.

"I really like doing it, being really good in it for a short period of time and then moving on to something else."


In Martin's case, moving on likely means going to Los Angeles. She lives in New York and has a home in Toronto. Her two sons live in L.A., and she has asked her agent to find work for her on the West Coast.

If the right job comes her way, she's likely gone. That means Mainers who want to see Martin in "Pippin" should act quickly. And they also should note that she is on vacation Aug. 18-24. "So tell them not to come down then," she said with a wink.

The Tony may help her land her next gig. It certainly has brought attention. She was delighted to receive her award from another Mainer, 27-year-old actress Anna Kendrick. As they walked off stage together, Martin whispered to Kendrick, "We went to the same high school!"

Mostly, the Tony brings recognition for a job well done.

"The Tony itself didn't give me a sense of satisfaction. Doing this role nightly gives me a sense of satisfaction," she said. "I come out after the show and women will stop me and say, 'You've motivated me' or 'You're inspiring.' That I can touch people, and that people are moved by it, is what means more to me.

"But, of course, the Tony is icing on the cake, and it's delicious to have a Tony Award and have my peers really be respectful of my work. It's beautiful to have, and I'm proud of it. But really, the satisfaction comes from the people I work with and doing the show nightly."

She almost didn't accept the role.

When she first learned that Paulus was curious about casting her in "Pippin," Martin wasn't interested. She knew the part, and had sung "No Time at All" at a benefit honoring Schwartz. But she knew the role as a silver-haired grandmother who makes her entrance in a wheelchair. That's how Berthe was played when the show opened in 1972.

Martin wanted no part of that. Through her agent, she told Paulus no thanks -- unless the director was willing to give Martin the leeway to reinterpret the role to fit the circus-act theme.

Paulus said yes.

"What Andrea does on the trapeze is remarkable, but what makes it so meaningful is that it comes from her passion for the character, and for the story she wants to tell as Berthe," Paulus said in an email. "Andrea's commitment to the story of 'Pippin' and the meaning of Berthe's message in the context of our production are what have made her performance so breathtaking and memorable."

(Continued on page 4)

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Additional Photos

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Roxie, played by 1965 Deering High School graduate Andrea Martin, studies up on group therapy with her TV show husband, Mitchell Laurance, during a 1987 episode of “Roxie” on the CBS Television Network.

CBS Photo


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