An avid, frequent, and popular staple of in Los Angeles theatre scene, Drew Droege adds to his impressive repertoire of female characterizations with his latest role as Angela Arden, the role Charles Busch wrote and originated in his DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! Drew will be high-camping it up at The Celebration Theatre beginning February 10th.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Drew!
My pleasure! Thank YOU!
You will be taking on Charles Busch’s iconic role of Angela in his 2007 cult classic DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! at the Celebration Theatre. When did you first become aware of Charles Busch?
I grew up in a small town in North Carolina. However, I had a very well-worn Samuel French catalog and stumbled onto the title PSYCHO BEACH PARTY. I ordered it and immediately fell in love. I desperately campaigned for my high school drama club to produce it, but they had just canceled prom because of freak dancing. So obviously, it was never approved. Instead, we just performed an evening of original and clean poetry.
Have you seen Charles Busch perform live?
Yes! I got to see him in his play THE THIRD STORY at La Jolla Playhouse in 2008. I was playing his role in RED SCARE ON SUNSET in LA at the time, so the cast drove down to see him and meet him. He is poisonously hilarious to watch live.
What were your preparations for this role of Angela?
I’ve watched several Bette Davis, Lana Turner, and Susan Hayward movies to get into the mindset of these women and into the style we’re playing. Angela is a blast, because she’s equal parts washed-up, drunk, raunchy, vulnerable, glamorous, vindictive, and every inch a STAR! I think it’s truly Charles’ best character.
You are a fixture of LA Theatre, frequently appearing @ the LA LGBT Center, the Rockwell, Casita del Campo and Celebration. Which gets your creative juices up more, performing live theatre or TV shows and podcasts?
I love doing all of them because they all work different muscles. There’s nothing like performing in front of a rowdy LA crowd – I feel so lucky that I get to do stupid fun shows. And, Oh, My God! We all need to get together and laugh – now more than ever. But TV and film are satisfying because I can be a piece of something bigger and try to be somewhat real. And podcasts are just pure raw, sobbing, naked honesty that I also find myself needing now more than ever.
Do you prefer tackling a female role (Miranda Priestley in UMPO THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, Velda in UMPO TROOP BEVERLY HILLS, Mellie Moleson in PRAIRIE-OKE!) to a male role (BRIGHT COLORS & BOLD PATTERNS)?
I always just look at the character’s point of view first. To me, their gender is less interesting than what drives them. I hope that I get to play both men and women for my entire life.
UMPO producer Kate Pazakis told me, once you put on Miranda’s wig, you became her. Do costumes make the woman for you?
Oh, my god, absolutely. I have always been that actor who screamed for his rehearsal shoes! And wigs are powerful beasts – put them on and just say, ‘Yes!’
Did you ‘become’ Angela when you first tried on her wig?
I’m still trying wigs, and I’m still finding Angela, so…
You are infamous for your Chloe Sevigny parodies. What made you pick Chloe in particular to ‘do’?
I put on a wig for something else and realized I looked like her. And I’ve long been fascinated by Chloe and her world. And she has been the gift that has kept on giving. And I debuted her in a sketch comedy show at Celebration Theatre – 15 years ago!!!
What was growing up in South & North Carolina like?
It was perfect for me. Everyone is a drag queen or a sketch character there. And I had a family and very close friend circle, and it was always about love and laughter and FOOD!
Was being funny your defense mechanism?
Yes. And pretending to be possessed by Satan – that created a necessary fear that kept the Carolina bullies at bay.
When did you decide you could make a career out of being funny?
I’m still figuring that out.
Who were your comedy idols growing up?
Carol Burnett, Divine, Jan Hooks, Madeline Kahn, Goldie Hawn, Kevin Kline, The Kids In The Hall, The State, Laurel and Hardy, and my Dad.
Was being part of The Groundlings a major stepping stone for your career? Absolutely! First of all, the training is unparalleled, because it made me create original characters. It made me stop waiting for the phone to ring and create my own career. And it’s never about jokes at The Groundlings – it’s about what’s true to the people you are playing. I was fortunate enough to make it through their program and get to perform there and work with the funniest people in the world. My first legit TV job was on RENO 911!, thanks in many ways to The Groundlings. And my most recent TV job was doing four episodes of IDIOTSITTER, created by and starring brilliant Groundlings friends Jillian Bell and Charlotte Newhouse. I will be forever grateful.
Did you find your NY audience reactions different or similar to your LA audience reactions to your BRIGHT COLORS?
Every audience was wildly different. I guess in general, New York has less regard/respect/reverence for celebrities, so they understood the ridiculous tragedy of my character’s obsession with them. Truly, that show is my favorite thing ever, ever, ever to perform.
What’s in store for Drew Droege in 2017?
I’m going to be shooting TVLand’s brilliant new Heathers series and writing sporadically for a Netflix show – and hopefully bringing BRIGHT COLORS & BOLD PATTERNS back to New York soon. It all feels so exciting and exhausting at once! Come see DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! The cast is amazing and our director Ryan Bergmann is a genius. We’re having a blast, and so will you!
Thank you, Drew! Looking forward to seeing you transformed into Angela.
DIE, MOMMIE, DIE! plays through March 26, 2017. For ticket info and further info, log onto www.celebrationtheatre.com
A photo montage of Gil’s Halloween Carnavale photos through the last decade was recently included in the WeHo@ 25 juried exhibition.