In Part Two of a series of interviews with the cast of Vagabond Players’ Moon Over Buffalo, meet Jess Kim.
Please introduce yourselves and tell me why you wanted to be in the cast of ‘Moon Over Buffalo”?
My name is Jess Kim, and I’m a strange combination of actor/scientist. I’m currently earning my MPH in epidemiology at George Washington University and working for the army in sleep research. Ironically, as I’m sure you could guess, I don’t get much sleep.
I was super excited to join the case of MoB! I’ve been doing film and some modeling for the last few months, and I wanted to go back to live theatre. There’s an irreplaceable craving for the energy and audience reactions. I was very surprised to hear that I had gotten the part, since I couldn’t attend callbacks and had no cell/internet service for a while due to a backpacking trip in Texas and Mexico. Also, John Desmone is the coolest director, Vagabonds is the warmest family, and the location at Fell’s Point next to a gelato store – perfect.
Did you bring any personal experiences to your performance? How has your performance changed since the show opened?
Personal experiences…I can’t say I’ve had many affairs with old men (or any!), but I can certainly relate to Eileen’s naivety. I feel like I really understand her impulsivity without consideration of consequences.
I’ve changed Eileen a bit since opening night. I was surprised by the strength of the audience’s feelings for her. There was a lot of gasping on stage, and I felt like the audience say Eileen more as “the other woman” than as an irresponsible, histrionic girl caught up by circumstances. After that, I’ve tried to make her seem more innocent – if only to keep the audience guessing if she really is so naiive or if she is manipulating relationships in the show to her advantage.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to your character? Has your feelings for the character changed since the show began?
I play Eileen, and I can certainly relate as a young, ambitious actress who loves she grew up. For Eileen, it’s Buffalo; for me, Southern California will always have my heart. When we began rehearsal, I thought that she was a very silly, reckless girl, but as rehearsals went on, I began to view her as a young woman in the 50’s doing her best to compose herself and find safety with someone before her illicit pregnancy became noticeable. The culture was so different then, that if she didn’t find someone to marry quickly, she could have become a societal outcast.
What have been some of the things that have not gone as planned during the performance and how did you handle it? What have been some of the funniest moments of playing your character?
There have been a few sound cue delays. Sometimes the cue is the motivation to leave the stage, so it can be fun finding a creative excuse to improve your way off the stage if the cue doesn’t sound.
One of the funniest moments I’ve had in rehearsal was for the scene where Eileen talks about her brother with George Hay (Greg Guyton). Since I was backstage, I had no idea that Greg and Jim had contrived to put Greg’s pants on backwards so every time Greg bends over in the scene, I’m sure you can imagine the sight. Of course, Eileen is a delicate woman of the 50’s so this is shocking!
What has surprised you about the audience reaction to the show and your performance?
I’ve been very surprised at the audience’s ability to catch old references to 50’s celebrities. I had to look half of the references up when I got the script, but the audience immediately knows who they are!
I am surprised with how much the audience seems to sympathize with Eileen, especially since she is “the other woman.”
Why should audiences come and see Moon Over Buffalo?
The play is easily hilarious. From old throwbacks to 50’s celebrities right on down to fart jokes, the physical and verbal humor has something for everyone. As summer begins with all the heat and busyness, people should take a night to get absorbed into this ridiculous world based on exaggerated backstage life in the theatre.
Why do you think Ken Ludwig’s play is so popular?
I think this particular play is popular because people always want to know “what goes on behind the curtain.” In addition, the lines are intelligently funny, the characters so archetypal and over-the-top, and there is a level of catharsis in being able to just relax and laugh at the antics on stage.
Review: ‘Moon Over Buffalo’ at Vagabond Players by Lauren Honeycutt on DCMetroTheaterArts.
Meet The Cast of ‘Moon Over Buffalo’ at Vagabond Players: Part 1: Caroline Kiebach.
Meet The Cast of ‘Moon Over Buffalo’ at Vagabond Players: Part 2: Jess Kim.