Roxanne Fay Through the Looking Glass

Roxanne Fay Through the Looking Glass

The award-winning actor will be performing a one-woman show about an aged Alice after Wonderland this Friday, but there’s much more about her that fascinates us.

By Julie Garisto, April 12, 2018

Roxanne Fay is that accomplished actor all aspiring female thespians — and creatives of all type — should strive to emulate. A member of Equity and SAG-AFTRA, she has mastered roles traditionally performed by men such as Prospero in The Tempest and Feste in Twelfth Night, and a slew of other characters of all ages and backgrounds. The Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Grantee has even crossed over into musical theater as Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret at freeFall among several other turns. Even more memorable, her chilling portrayal of Nurse Ratched in freeFall’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

No-nonsense elegance: Fay’s headshot.

When not co-starring and transforming, Fay exudes power and command of her craft as a lead. A recipient of  Theatre Tampa Bay awards and roles in Tampa Bay’s professional theaters — most recently as the fierce mom in Jobsite Theater‘s acclaimed trans-centered dramedy HIR —  Fay has a die-hard work ethic and says she continually strives to better herself whether as a producing artistic director of Circle in the Water repertory, a playwright, director and actor.

This Friday, Fay will perform a one-woman show at St. Petersburg City Theatre. Dream Child: The Trial of Alice in Wonderland (pictured above) acquaints us with the memories and musings of Lewis Carroll’s Alice Liddell, older, in 1932 and en route to America to celebrate Carroll’s centenary.

Unlike many other accomplished performers of her caliber, the 54-year-old actor comes across offstage as warm and approachable; her demeanor balances gracious gentility and no-nonsense moxie. Creative Pinellas caught up with Fay at Maggie Mae’s in Belleair Bluffs for lunch and conversation. We learned some fun facts we didn’t know going into our brief meeting …
Hawthornden Castle (built in the 15th century)

She received a fellowship in a Scottish castle

“It was amazing,” she said. “Hawthornden Castle, built in the 15th century, is about half an hour away from Edinburgh in the area of Midlothian and the towns of Lasswade and Bonnyrigg. The poet William Drummond was born here and Ben Jonson is cited as a visitor as well. Hawthornden Castle is above the River North Esk. Lots of opportunities to be out in nature — hiking, fishing. The castle itself is quiet. Serene. Almost sacred. There are a number of man-made caves in the cliffs beneath the castle and we were taken on a tour of those spaces as well as the dungeon — really! I lived in the castle for a month with three other writers. We spent our daylight hours on our own — writing, walking, researching in the libraries in the castle and the large library just next to the castle. No phone service to speak of. No internet. It was a perfect environment to in which to create. Our benefactor (and owner of the property) was Drue Heinz — she was the widow of H.J. Heinz, and it was she who made it into the Hawthornden Literary Retreat a place for writers to peacefully live and work. She passed away just last week in Hawthornden, I am told, at the age of 102. I hope to go back to the retreat as soon as I am eligible to reapply (2021).”

Her favorite night-time post-play ritual does not involve a stiff drink

After a performance, she typically drives home to Belleair Bluffs, puts on her pajamas and eats a late dinner or snack while watching Stephen Colbert on The Late Show.

Her favorite late-night snack

Roasted pumpkin seeds.

Roxanne Fay as La Befana at Epcot.

She performs as a legendary Italian Christmas witch at Epcot each year

“During the holiday season at Epcot Center, beginning in November, we’ll showcase each one of the countries has had a storyteller in the tradition of that particular country, and I have been the Italian storyteller, La Befana. She’s based on a real folktale told to Italian children for decades and decades. La Befana is an old woman, and the magi come through her village and she shows them hospitality. In their gratitude, they say they are following the North Star and invite her to help them find the newborn king. And she’s like, “No, I can’t. I can’t do that. I’m too busy cleaning.” So she realizes as the villagers, come and say we’re all going to follow the star, that she needs to go too — all the town is going.

So she goes back into her house to find something to bring to the baby when she finds a little doll made of scraps there, she runs back out of the house and the star is dark. So the story is that La Befana has been searching for baby Jesus all these centuries, and on the night of the Epiphany, the night the Magi visit Jesus, she goes down the chimneys of all the children’s houses looking for Baby Jesus. And then just in case the Baby Jesus is there she leaves a gift — so for a long time, this was Italy’s version of Santa. … It’s a beautiful story and I love doing it.” Click here to see La Befana in action at Epcot.

What’s the Shakespeare character she would most like to play next?

“Oh, I love them all! I’d like to play Lear’s Fool — and then tackle the role of Lear.”

Roxanne and her mom.

Her mom is French-Canadian

She understands French, but her mother didn’t speak her native language at home, a common adjustment by immigrants in 20th-century America.

She performs in the Catskills every year

Fay has made the Bridge Street Theatre in Catskills, New York, a second home, where she’s performed in The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Home Fires Burning, Dream Child and Leni, about legendary documentary filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.

Her advice for women not finding the roles that excite them?

“Search for like-minded people and institutions/theaters. Be prepared to travel to find the grail. Read, read, read. Every play. Every novel.”

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