This Spotlight focuses on Andrea Stradling, a Los Angeles-based actor formerly in health care public relations who fully understands and appreciates the dedication and sacrifices being made by those on the frontline treating patients in the CoViD-19 pandemic. And like so many other actors, the show in which Andrea was performing had to end its run earlier than expected, opening up unplanned time in her schedule to fill with online theatrical opportunities.
Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?
Andrea Stradling (Andrea): I have acted in productions throughout Los Angeles and its surrounding communities since the 1980s. In 2012, I was able to retire early from a career in health care public relations, enabling me to concentrate full time on my theatrical endeavors which has been an absolute joy. However, my heart is with my many close colleagues who are still courageously working the front lines of this terrible pandemic.
(SB): I remember first meeting you when I took publicity photos for the Kentwood Players production of Clybourne Park at the Westchester Playhouse in which you portrayed the dual roles of Bev and Kathy. What production were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?
Andrea: On January 2, I was cast as Dotty Otley in Noises Off at Long Beach Playhouse. It was a fantastic opportunity to do a show that is traditionally performed, and usually rather dependent on, a proscenium stage, rather than it was being stages on a deep thrust with arena style seating. It was a puzzle to figure out, and an amazing cardio workout to perform! But our talented and creative director, Gregory Cohen, marvelously staged it and we opened February 22 to rave reviews.
(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?
Andrea: Our fourth weekend began Thursday, March 12. The day was ominous, dark and rainy, with news reports emphasizing the importance of social distancing (especially in crowds) running all day long. I kept checking my phone, but hearing nothing to the contrary, I left for the theater as usual. At approximately our half hour call, the theater’s artistic director, Sean Gray, asked us to assemble on stage. He was there with Madison Mooney, executive director, and together they shared that, after a grueling day of conversations with city officials, it was decided that that night’s performance would be our last. In total, we lost being able to perform our last five shows.
(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?
Andrea: Sean and Madison were absolutely lovely and just as gutted as we were about having to close the show early. There was talk of a possible remount in November, but that would be dependent upon so many variables, least of which involves the Playhouse getting the rights to the show again and the cast’s availability at that time. I think it is very much up in the air.
(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?
Andrea: The only other definite job I had was performing in Sierra Madre Playhouse’s production of A Christmas Story this November/December 2020. But now, SMP has put their entire season on hold because of the pandemic. I was so looking forward to being in the show, as this would have been my third time appearing as Mother, and the production is to be directed by the wonderfully creative Christian Lebano, the Playhouse’s artistic director. I am heartbroken about this, both personally and because of the devastating financial impact for the theater.
(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
Andrea: Like everyone, I’m sure, I’m doing my best to continue submitting myself for work, and I appreciate the latitude casting directors have given regarding self-taping via cell phones. I sent in one monologue where I held the phone with my left hand and tried not to breathe too loudly, but my husband said my face looked too big!
(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?
Andrea: I appreciate so much watching friends share their incredible talent via social media with lots of online monologues, beautiful songs, dancing, impressions — it’s all wonderful. Theatrical organizations all over the world are being so generous offering up free streaming of their productions. I enjoyed a staged reading via Zoom of IVRT’s recent production of A Streetcar Named Desire. I saw Kevin Kline in Present Laughter and just watched a fantastic production of Jane Eyre streamed on YouTube by London’s National Theatre. Bravo!!
(SB): I agree with you. It’s incredible all the wonderful productions from around the world that are now available for free online. I am especially enjoying watching all the Broadway musical productions as it has been a really long time since I was able to get to New York to experience them in person.
Andrea: Despite the quarantine, I feel blessedly connected to my theatre family thanks to the connectivity of social media. I pray for everyone’s good health and resilience, and especially that the theaters that have been my havens for the last 30 years receive the support they need to reopen and thrive.
This article first appeared on Broadway World.
As a founding member of the LA Stage Alliance Leadership Council Task Force, she and reps from theaters throughout the city worked together to articulate a vision for the theatre community of Greater Los Angeles.
Shari has received recognition from the City of Los Angeles for her dedication of heart and hand to the needs of friends, neighbors and fellow members of society for her devotion of service to the people of Los Angeles, and is honored to serve the theatre world in her hometown.
Currently she is the Publicist and a member of the Kentwood Players at the Westchester Playhouse.