GOOD PEOPLE’s Estelle Parsons
Academy Award-winning actress and Broadway veteran Estelle Parsons is back on Broadway in David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. She most recently starred on Broadway inAugust: Osage County, and then went on to tour with the production. Parsons has received multiple Tony nominations for her work inThe Seven Descents of Myrtle,And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little,Miss Margarida’s Way, and Mornings at Seven.
BroadwayWorld reporter Nick Orlando spoke with Parsons about the play and her career.
Congratulations on the success of the show.
Thank you! It is really nice to be in a hit.
You are 83 years old. How do you still have the energy to perform eight shows per week?
Oh, lord. It’s not a hard show for me. What am I supposed to do, say, “I am too old and shouldn’t work anymore?”
The show takes place in South Boston. Didn’t you also grow up in Massachusetts?
Yes, I grew up in Marblehead. It’s 20 minutes away from Boston.
Does the production bring back any memories for you?
An awful lot. Marblehead is a small town not part of the Boston scene, but I knew a lot of people in South Boston.
In Good People, you play Dottie, Margie’s landlady and friend. Dottie is different from the characters in the show. She is very blunt and forthright, and says exactly what’s on her mind. What interested you in this character?
I was interested in the play itself. I didn’t know much about Dottie, initially. The class issue is huge in this country. The play said something to me.
Dottie is very honest about the fact that she puts herself and her own finances first.
Yes, she even rejects her own son. That’s pretty extreme!
And she provides much of the show’s comic relief with her hysterical one-liners. What have the audience reactions been like thus far?
It has been fantastic. I’m just spoiled. I didAugust: Osage Countyand the audiences loved it, and now they love this play. It is real entertainment. This production moves people. You even hear from some fans saying that they are agitated by the issues that are brought up throughout the show.
How do you keep busy when you’re not working?
Wow, when am I not working? I work out in the gym – I lift weights, swim, and ride the bike. I frequent a coffee shop everyday for my one coffee. I like to read and moderate atThe Actors Studio.
You made your Broadway debut in Happy Hunting back in 1956 and have since appeared in 28 Broadway shows. How has the industry changed from then to now?
Only 28 Broadway shows? I thought it was more than that! In the 60s, you would go from one Broadway show to another. I’ve done a lot over the years. One of the worst things I remember was that the Tony’s started having television personalities pop up to host the award show. I was talking to colleagues and we were like, “What’s happening to the Tony’s?” Film and television are the things to do these days. It used to be you had to get into the theatre first, and then you can transition into television and film. It is important to work in the theatre. I remember after doingBonnie and Clyde, they take such good care of you when you are doing film, and then you return to the theatre and you are treated like a regular human being!
What else are you working on?
I am doing a couple of workshops. I have been working steadily – I was withAugust: Osage Countyfor a year on Broadway, then a year with the production on tour, and then I was doing the London revival of Deathtrap. So, a break wouldn’t hurt as well!