Behind the Scenes of the Murder Mystery Cruise: Part II

Behind the Scenes of the Murder Mystery Cruise: Part II

Last Thursday we published interviews with two actors from the Charleston Harbor Tours Murder Mystery Cruise. Today, we’re spotlighting two other actor interviews!

See below for our interviews with actress Sarah Coe and actor and director Robbie Thomas:

sarah coe

Interview with actress, Sarah Coe:

1. What do you love most about your character on the Murder Mystery Cruise, Dixie Turner?

So many things, so hard to pick just one aspect . . . You know, she is a successful business owner / co-owner in a time when women weren’t really in the workforce. Granted, it’s the “oldest” profession but she’s still running the show, making the money, successful at what she does and hanging tough with the men. She does and says what she wants, when she wants, to whom she wants. One might say she gets away with murder . . . 😉

2. What are your favorite types of roles to play and why?

I love playing any role that is multidimensional, complicated but perhaps one that sits on the side of strength. I’m going to get up on my soapbox for a bit and lament the shortage of great female roles out there. Joss Whedon is a favorite among many for his attention to this deficit in writing for film and television but there is still a long way to go. So often a female character is pigeon-holed as the sex object or the mean girl or the tough cookie or the spinster, etc. or is put into a piece as an ornament. Women are obviously so much more than that; people are so much more than that. I think Dixie Turner is a great example. All the gals on The Carolina Queen are, actually. I give a nod to Abby Kammeraad-Campbell, the woman who wrote the bulk of the scripted scenes.

3. How do you usually prepare for your roles?

I rely very heavily on the author and the script. I write a little bit and I think any writer worth their weight has a strong vision of their characters and I try to honor that while also allowing room for my own creative instincts, which grow out of the reading in preparation for a role. I love discovering clues about my character in what the other characters say about her. Relationship dynamics can say a great deal about the players. If it’s a period piece, I especially like to dive into the rabbit hole of Internet research and dust off the occasional book from the library. I have to confess, though, I’m a bit lazy when it comes to preparation. I know other actors who are far, far more fastidious than me in that regard and I take each show as an opportunity to work a bit harder to be more like them.

murder mystery cruise

Sarah as Dixie on the Charleston Harbor Tours Murder Mystery Cruise


4. What has been the most challenging character you’ve ever played and why?

I was in a production of Fat Pig at Footlight Players that involved several of The Carolina Queen company actually – Robbie, Noah, Christian; I played the female love interest of the lead and it could be said that I was the title character. Neil LaBute is… well, insert your own choice word here___ . I was curious about his work, having seen a couple of his films, wanted to work at Footlight and with the people involved but would probably never do another Neil LaBute play again. From a writing standpoint he’s far too true to how some people, Americans maybe, have conversations. It’s a real trip trying to memorize and rehearse that sort of constant shift in dialog, interruption, overlap, etc. You can improv that fairly easily but to get it word-perfect and stage it to look organic is a tremendous process. Also, it takes a person with a truly high opinion of themselves and the thickest of skin to come away unaffected, in some very significant ways, from a production that shines such a bright spotlight on self-esteem, how we treat one another and those around us whom we judge for whatever reason. As the intentional receiver of most of the negativity in the script, what affected Helen definitely spilled over onto me but I know my castmates suffered similarly. Depression, anxiety, body image issues, you name it. It was one big head trip and it took me a while to move past it, if I even have completely.

Interview with actor and director of Charleston Harbor Tours’ Murder Mystery Cruise, Robbie Thomas:

1. When did you first start acting and what inspired you to become an actor?

When I was little, like so many others, I could not decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I guess you could say that I still don’t really know. Some days I wanted to be a lawyer, some days a doctor, some a policeman, a cowboy, President of the United States, and so on. As I grew older, I quickly realized that if I was going to be any one of those things I would have to narrow it down a little. That seemed to be the only logical choice, but it didn’t really appeal to me. After filling out several college applications and stressing over having to decide my career path as a teenager, it dawned on me that I didn’t have to choose one of those professions. I could actually be all those things that I dreamed about. I just had to continue doing what I’d been doing my entire life; pretend.

As an actor, I can be anything I want to be, and my “profession” can change in the blink of an eye. In the past year, I’ve been a radio host, a sheriff, a soldier, a maid, a Reverend, a television reporter, a Roman warrior, the best man at a wedding, a ten year-old boy, Alfred Hitchcock, and even a housewife. The possibilities are endless. Once I realized I didn’t have to choose, being an actor became the only choice. I fell in love with the freedom and fluidity of the profession. There’s never a chance of getting bored because your next job is always right around the corner.

2. What are your favorite types of roles to play and why?

You really do fall in love with every role. You have to realize that each role is a part of you. Every part you play brings out a different part of you, so choosing a particular role is like choosing the part of you that you like best. Watching and doing theatre you become very aware that people are capable of anything that your brain can imagine; that YOU are capable of anything. I guess I enjoy those roles that allow me to find parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. Playing the villain is always fun because you get to say and do things that your conscience, that good part of you, would never actually allow you to do. You can tap into your own personal Mr. Hyde just long enough to get a taste of it, without any lasting consequences. It’s that rebellious nature that we all experience when we’re young.

3. What actors and actresses inspire you? Are there any specific characters that inspire you?

As an actor, I hate getting this question. There are so many actors out there that have my respect and many of them inspire me in different ways. It’s so incredibly difficult to narrow it down to a few. One that pops to mind is Gary Oldman. I’ve always admired his ability to so fully embody his roles. He seems to effortlessly become the character inside and out. Most of his characters are very flamboyant, but he bases them in reality, and you always believe that these people actually exist. When he does take on a role that is “tame” by his standards, it’s almost like watching a completely different actor. His technique changes. There is a simplicity and subtlety that is missing from the more extravagant characters. It’s always amazing to watch.

4. Aside from the Murder Mystery Cruise, what other acting roles do you have?

Over the years I have performed with almost every theatre in Charleston. Right now I’m working on the College of Charleston’s annual Shakespeare Project, playing Parolles in All’s Well That Ends Well. I’m also the Associate Director of the Village Playhouse and most of my free time is spent preparing for next season, which is quickly approaching.

For more information on the Charleston Harbor Tours Murder Mystery Cruise, or to purchase tickets, click here.

And don’t forget to join the Murder Mystery Cruise conversation at the “Who Killed Andrew Wheeler?” Facebook page!

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