August 5, 2013

Maine actress turns big risk into rewards

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

PippinMusic Box Theatre
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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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Martin left Maine when she enrolled at Emerson College in Boston. After Emerson, she moved to New York and began her career with the touring company of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."

Soon after, she moved to Toronto. She played Robin in a Canadian production of "Godspell" with Gilda Radner and Martin Short in 1972, and shortly after joined the legendary sketch comedy TV show "SCTV."

She's been working steadily ever since -- in theater, on television and on film.

Her father was John Martin, of Maine restaurant fame. She came from a tight-knit Armenian family, and still vacations with her brother Peter, sister Marcia and their spouses.

Almost every summer, the family books a week or two somewhere in Maine to keep the family bonds strong. Last year, it was Acadia National Park. The year before, they vacationed on Peaks Island.

Martin returns to Portland as often as she can, and professes a love for the city that is genuine and deep. She knows the city's best restaurants, and stays in touch with the community through friends and family.

"I have exquisite memories of growing up in Maine," she said. "You can't take that away from me."


As successful as she has been in the past, Martin's role in "Pippin" may provide her career-defining moment.

The New York Daily News wrote, "In a perfect theatrical storm of actress, song and staging, Martin turns (composer Stephen) Schwartz's gently insistent and joyful song 'No Time at All' into more than a showstopper. It's a season-topper." Bloomberg News called her song the high point of the show, and said she proved herself "as limber and adept as her very young male partner."

Her brother, Peter Martin, who lives in Winslow, came from Maine to see "Pippin" in June. In Maine, Peter Martin is known as an influential lobbyist, a key player in the Oxford Casino deal. But in the pecking order of life, he is Andrea Martin's younger brother.

He couldn't believe what he saw from his big sister in "Pippin."

"My jaw dropped when I saw Andrea's performance," he said. "I knew bits and pieces of what she was going to do. But she was cautious about talking about it. She didn't want people to have over-expectations about that role.

"I'll admit, I was a little concerned about her safety. I thought it was extremely physical what she was doing, with no formal training. I was very impressed. I was on the edge of my seat as she was doing the performance."

He let out a happy exhale when the song came to an end.

The actress smiled at the story.

The move from sitting on the trapeze bar to being suspended by her ankles while singing is difficult, she admitted.

"And a couple of times I have panicked," she said. "But Yannick is always there. I have never fallen. We trust each other. He is so lovely. He says, 'I feel now we are a team. I used to feel your nervousness, and now I know you are trusting me.' "

In June, Martin's work in "Pippin" won her a second Tony Award, for best featured actress in a musical. She won her first in 1992 for "My Favorite Year."

"Pippin" is selling out every night, and Martin couldn't be happier. "I'm loving every minute of it," she said. "I'm having the time of my life."

Which makes it all the more surprising that she seems to be leaning toward leaving the musical.

Her contract is up at the end of September, and Martin is obliged to let producers know her plans by the end of August.

(Continued on page 3)

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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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