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Maddie Corman: Acting ‘Desperate’

Maddie Corman grew up doing theater in Irvington, where her mother was key to the revitalization of the Irvington Town Hall Theater, now a fixture on the arts scene in Westchester.

She lives in Dobbs Ferry, married to Jace Alexander, an in-demand TV director whose work ranges from “Rescue Me” to “Raising Hope” to “Prison Break.” He is the son of the actress Jane Alexander, who lives a stone’s throw away. Corman and Alexander have three kids: Isabelle Moon and twins Mac and Finn.

Now, Corman (who grew up Maddie Cornman, but dropped the “n” when she went pro) is doing theater in New York, having made her Broadway debut last fall in “Next Fall.”

Tonight, she opens Off-Broadway at the Union Square Theater (100 E. 17th St.), in the one-act “Desperate Writers,” the story of two writers who will go to great lengths to have their script heard. It’s part screwball comedy, part harrowing Hollywood tale and Corman plays Ashley — one of the writers.

Here’s my Q&A with Maddie Corman.

Q: “Desperate Writers” is all about getting the script in the right hands. How did this script, by Joshua Grenrock and Catherine Schreiber, end up in your hands?

A: I knew Catherine as a producer of NEXT FALL… when she decided to do her play in NYC, she sent me the script. The timing was right and here I am playing Ashley in Union Square!

Q: It’s a script by a male writer and a female writer about a male writer and a female writer trying to sell a script. Was this art imitating Joshua and Catherine’s life?

A: Pretty much. Joshua and Catherine are screenwriters who came this close to selling their scripts on many occasions and many of the scenarios in DESPERATE WRITERS are based on their “real life” Hollywood experiences. But the two playwrights are not a couple whereas in the world of the play, David and Ashley are in a relationship which I think raises the stakes even higher.

Q: How long have you been attached to it?

A: I’ve been on board since February of this year.

Q: What attracted you to it?

A: I think that anyone in the arts — and, honestly, anyone just trying to do what they love — can relate to the desperation that Ashley feels in this play. I was drawn to that honest element in an otherwise wacky comedy. I love being silly but I think that the best comedy comes from a place of truth. When I read the script, I laughed but I also saw a chance to really tell the story of an artist pushed over the edge. Plus, I get to wield a gun and kiss the boy.

Q: Your husband must be flooded with scripts. How full is your nightstand with scripts?

A: My nightstand is cluttered with scripts and kids’ books and all kinds of things I should be reading. Jace’s nightstand is much neater and more organized. Plus, he seems to read things on his iPad whereas  I still like good old-fashioned paper.

Q: The last time we spoke, you were readying for your Broadway debut in “Next Fall.” Talk about that experience and what you take away from that.

A: That experience was dreamy. It was kind of perfect. I will probably never be able to put it into words or even into an interpretive dance, but it was fulfilling on every level. I loved being Holly and I loved telling that incredible (dare I say, important) story every night on Broadway where I’d dreamed of performing since I was 6 years old. I truly loved every actor in the company as well as our writer and director and producers. Most of them will be there for “Desperate Writers” opening night! It sounds corny but it just was one of those blessed experiences and I was old enough to recognize that and appreciate (almost) every moment.

Q: Does having a Broadway credit make it easier?

A: NEXT FALL put me back on lists I’d fallen off of. I had been focusing on my kids for many years and that show put me back into the world of theatre.

Q: Ashley, your character, knows what she wants and she’ll go to great lengths to get it. What’s the most outlandish thing you’ve done to advance your career?

A: Wow, Pete, this is a family newspaper, right? Kidding… I’ve never done anything too wacky but I have certainly fantasized about holding certain producers at gunpoint.

Q: Ashley is a woman who desperately wants her big break—and a baby. You are a woman who has three kids and is commuting to Union Square from Westchester for eight shows a week. Who has it tougher?

A: Ashley. She’s in that primal space of desperately wanting a baby and needing a job. I am desperate for sleep, but i wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s. My kids are hilarious and amazing and even though commuting is not fun, I get to live in a sweet, lovely town.  Though I do sometimes pray for rainy Sundays (my day off) so that we can all cozy up at home vs. running to various soccer/softball/baseball games!

Photo by Carol Rosegg: Maddie Corman and Jim Stanek in “Desperate Writers” at Union Square Theater.

Desperate Writers will be performed on the following schedule at Union Square Theater (100 East 17th St., at Park Avenue South): Monday at 8; Tuesday at 7; Wednesday at 3 and 8; Thursday and Friday at 8; Saturday at 3 and 8. Dark Sundays. $65. www.Ticketmaster.com or 800-982-2787. Go to the Desperate Writers website.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 6th, 2011 at 6:00 am by Peter D. Kramer.