Kay Cole’s Always On the LINE – Now For Los Angeles Audiences

Gil Kaan

Writer, Registered Critic

Original A CHORUS LINE-er Kay Cole, now frequent Los Angeles theatre collaborator, has a new directorial project, John Patrick Shanley’s POISON opening March 9, 2017 at Theatre 68. Kay was most gracious to answer a few of our inquisitive questions.

Thank you, Kay for taking the time for this interview with Better Lemons and myself.

To start off, what would be a three-line pitch for POISON?

Gypsy sees future.

What initially drew you to partake in directing POISON?

First, it was beautifully written, and has unexpected surprises.

POISON was written by John Patrick Shanley, the prolific Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. When did you first become aware of his plays?

When I was in Professional Children’s High School in NYC. I always loved plays and our English teacher would often let us read plays in class and that way we got to know the work of many playwrights… John Patrick Shanley being one of my favorites. No… As I think back, I first discovered Shanley’s work with an acting teacher Mike Thoma, not in high school.

What elements of a project do you look for that get your creative energies revved up to become involved in?

Does it touch me in some way? And do I want to explore that.

Which do you prefer: performing on-stage? Or being off-stage directing or choreographing?

I love what I am doing at the moment.

Would we be correct in describing you as


a Broadway Baby gone West Coast? Or are you bi-coastal?

Oh, bi-coastal.

Some shows that started out in California were not well-received on Broadway (i.e., the original production of ZOOT SUIT from 1978). Have you found any similarities or differences between west coast and east coast theatre-goers?

Devoted theatre-goers can be found in any city.   

What memories did the Hollywood Bowl production of A CHORUS LINE last July bring back to you?

What an extraordinary experience A CHORUS LINE is to everyone… such a universal theme.

Did you have a nice reunion with your original castmates attending that night at the Bowl?

Always! We love each other like a very large family.

What did you learn from your A CHORUS LINE director/choreographer Michael Bennett that you apply to your work today?

Always bring joy into the room when you are creating. And listen to your heart and instincts.  


As one who has successfully auditioned for various roles on Broadway, what advice would you give to budding LA actors auditioning for you?

When an actor/actress is auditioning:

  1.  Enjoy the audition and the process of sharing your personality and talent.
  2.  Remember you deserve to be in the room with a humble humanity.
  3.  Do not try to get the job. Just be yourself.
  4.  Be prepared and just do your best work.

What qualities do you look for when you’re auditioning new talents?

I look for a generous spirit and a quality to listen as an actor.

What do you remember about your audition for Maggie in A CHORUS LINE? Wait, you didn’t audition, right? How did you get involved in the workshopping of A CHORUS LINE?

Michael Bennett had seen me in a show, Sammy Cahn’s WORDS & MUSIC, and asked if I would join the second workshop.

I see your name popping up in various Los Angeles productions. What can LA theatre lovers next expect of your creative talents after POISON?

I am directing an original play for Group Repertory Theatre A DULL PAIN TURNED SHARP.  And I just released my first solo CD Souvenir on Kritzerland  

When you, yourself, attend a performance, are you able to take off your director’s hat, your choreographer’s fedora and/or your performer’s chapeau, and simply enjoy the show as a civilian?


Absolutely! It’s freeing to simply be an audience member.

Has there been a movie or play that you so loved that you want to someday make your own distinct mark on?

I would love to revisit La Strada.

What would you like the Theatre 68 audience to leave with them after POISON‘s curtain call?

To appreciate Mr. Shanley’s work and his deep connection to the human spirit.

Thank you again, Kay! I look forward to feeling your POISON affecting my senses.

To discover more ingredients of POISON (running through April 2, 2017), log onto www.plays411.com/danny

Gil Kaan, a former Managing Editor of the now-defunct Genre magazine, has had the privilege of photographing and interviewing some major divas in his career, including Ann-Margret, Diana Ross, Faye Dunaway, Carol Channing, Shirley MacLaine, Catherine Deneuve, Liza Minnelli, Sandra Bernhard, Anna Nicole Smith, Margaret Cho, and three Catwomen—Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether and Julie Newmar. He had the fortuitous opportunity to conduct Lily Tomlin’s coming out interview. Gil has since reviewed movies and theatre for a number of local and national outlets.
A photo montage of Gil’s Halloween Carnavale photos through the last decade was recently included in the WeHo@ 25 juried exhibition.