Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cast Interview #4: Mary Lahti as "Anfisa" in THREE SISTERS

Welcome to our exciting series of interviews, where you can get to know the cast & creative team in our production of Three Sisters -- an adaptation by Brian Friel of Anton Chekhov's classic story.

Three Sisters runs March 9-25, 2012, Wed-Sat at 7:30pm; Sat & Sun at 2pm in New York City.

For tickets, please click here.

For more info about The Seeing Place, click here.

Your Name:
Mary Lahti (No, no direct relation to Christine)

Role in this Production:
Anfisa (the old maid) 

How long have you been acting?
After I grew out of playing paper mache trees and flowers, I performed in a Greek tragedy not knowing really what I was saying. Things got better after that and therefore have been more seriously acting since Jr. High School -- many years, but not enough years to match that of an old maid. 

How long have you been in NYC?
I arrived in NYC with my husband to continue pursuing our performing arts adventures, found a temporary place to stay just two blocks from the job I was to start in Tower II, September 10, 2001 and asked for a couple more days off while we settled in. I'm still here! 

Where are you from originally?
San Francisco, the Haight Ashbury, pre-hippy era. My dad's bar is now a gay bar and the 5 & 10 Store is now an upscale restaurant where the meals costs 5 x 10. 

What's been your favorite role, to date?
I'm going to cheat a bit and add an 's' to role: I'm musical theater heavy so I have to say, Bebe in A Chorus Line because the show itself has such a deep emotional impact on me, Georgia in Curtains because the role was close to my actual personality and I got to wear nice clothes. Okay, and one more, Amy in Company because it's a great role in a great show allowing me to act crazy. 

If you could play any role in any play right now, what would it be?
Oh golly, from the top of my head, Barbara Fordham in August: Osage County. 

What's the wackiest experience you've ever had onstage?
Luckily, most of the wacky experiences happened before show time but there was one time during a scene, someone from off stage throws a newspaper to me and I catch it to read the headline. One night, the paper bounced off the tip of my finger and flew out into the audience. I walked towards the edge of the stage, pointed at the paper in the audience and delivered my line, "My look at that headline." It got the biggest applause of the evening. 

What's your experience with Chekhov?
This is my first production. I was intrigued by the approach taken with this production. There is actually humor in his writing. Who knew? 

What's been the most challenging thing about preparing for this role?
I would say the most challenging thing is trying to find the right balance of playing someone in their 80s both physically and emotionally as naturally as possible. And part of me is afraid that once I do, I might get stuck that way. 

What's been the most exciting thing about the rehearsal process?
What, besides having coffee available? The ensemble is an amazing professional group of dedicated performers who work as well together as they do on their own creating a truly safe environment for everyone to explore their character. And did I mention the coffee? 

What parts of yourself are similar to the character?
I find Anfisa to be loyal, responsible and hard working which seem to be traits that got Anfisa the respect from the family she served which I can relate to. At one point she fears getting sent away, losing the roof over her head realizing she's getting too old to work with no family to go to. The reality is a bit too close for comfort as I am about to lose my job after 12 years also realizing it will be much harder for me to find the same work at my age. Although, at least, my husband isn’t planning on sending me away. 

What excites you about THREE SISTERS?
This play is full of interesting characters. 

To learn more about Mary, visit her website at www.marylahti.com.


  1. Mary - I had no idea about your story of moving to NYC. My god, you learn something new every day. Thanks for sharing yourself with us!

  2. Catherine FrancoiseMarch 1, 2012 at 1:39 AM

    Great interview Mary! I so wish I could see this ! Isn't it strange how life can imitate real life? However, you're not 80 and you will get other work I'm sure! Wishing you and the company a great run :)


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