The Realization of Emily Linder, which opened last week at Taproot Theatre in N. Seattle, stars one of the best-loved and most familiar faces in the Seattle acting community, Laura Kenny. Onstage her varied identities have included a magical lady named Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Eulalie McKechnie Shinn, the Mayor’s pontificating and self-possessed wife in The Music Man, Mag, the imposing and demanding Irish mother of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and the starchy housekeeper Mrs. Brill in Mary Poppins. With a personality and a heart as big as all outdoors, it was a pleasure to catch up with her, some 15 years since our last interview.
Hi Laura! I have never known or asked you before if you are native to the Pacific NW and if not how long have you been here and acting?
I moved here from Las Vegas, NV when I was 16 and I attended the U of W. I have been acting in Seattle for over 30 years.
You play the starring title role in Emily Linder. Share what your role is and how it may parallel your life.
Emily is facing the loss of her independence, the loss of her health, and the loss of her identity in the world. She has also lost her husband of many years recently. I have been taking care of my Mom since my Dad died in Sept. 2013. It is one of the hardest things to give up control over your life and let someone else make decisions for you. My Mom and I are struggling through this right now and learning and loving while we go.
Is this your first time working with Taproot and your director Nathan Kessler-Jeffrey?
Yes, It is. I am very excited to be part of Taproot’s 40th Season, and getting to work with Nathan and our fabulous cast. Taproot is a wonderful and supportive organization, and is a great place to work.
Do people who know you from roles like Eulalie McKechnie Shinn or the Banks family housekeeper in Mary Poppins get taken aback when you are in a role like the monstrous Irish mum in The Beauty Queen of Leenane?
I hope it is a pleasant surprise for them, and that they enjoy the monster side as well as the comic side
Would you like to play one of the other town ladies the next time you do The Music Man?
No, Eulalie McKechnie Shinn is my gal! I have had the privilege of playing Eulalie five times in full productions of The Music Man and the honor of playing her for Marvin Hamlisch in a concert version at the Seattle Symphony. Eulalie will always be one of my favorites and I would play her again and again if given the chance.
Are you ever approached by fans who recall your memorable role as Kay in the TV miniseries of Stephen King’s Rose Red?
I have been recognized a few times as the bad mother Kay Waterman from “Rose Red”. The best was when I called for customer service help and the representative recognized my voice and asked if I was in “Rose Red”, I just couldn’t believe it.
And now a speed round!
Use one word to sum up these fellow travelers in the Seattle Theatre world: Suzy Hunt,
Marianne Owen, Bobbi Kotula, Victor Pappas, and Steve Tomkins
I can’t just use one word because all these people are so many wonderful things. They are brilliant, incredibly talented, kind, funny, creative, resourceful, leaders, and all around good humans. It is a privilege to know and work with them all.
Favorite character and Least Favorite Character you have played?
I have liked or loved all the characters I have played. You have to find something to love or at least like about every character you play.
Bucket list roles play and musical
Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Mama Morton in Chicago.
When you reach St. Peter’s gates, what do you hope you’ll hear when you walk in?
That my Dad, Raymond Lee Malott, and all my cats have been waiting for me and we will be together happily for eternity. Oh also, that I made him or her laugh a lot.
When the cast of the Showtime reboot of the Twin Peaks was recently announced, Laura’s name was right up there in the mix with new and returning actors to the David Lynch cult classic. Laura was contractually unable to reveal anything about it here, but while you savor the possibilities, I urge you to see her in a perfect fit of a role in The Realization of Emily Linder. For full info on the show and tickets go to taproottheatre.org