Eden Espinosa Brings "Rain" to The Old Globe
Interview with Eden Espinosa of The Old Globe's "Rain"
Actress Eden Espinosa in "Rain"
Photos by Ken Howard
The Old Globe has always produced stellar first-run shows, many of which have gone on to tour the country or even play on Broadway. Previewing tonight and opening on April 1st is their next great hit, Rain. Adapted from Somerset Maugham's classic short story, Rain tells the tale of the residents of a boarding house in Western Samoa, where the inhabitants are more or less stranded together for days on end. Different walks of life collide when the promiscuous Sadie Thompson starts stirring things up in the cozy space.
The short story "Rain" has been adapted into a movie three times, but The Old Globe is the first production brave enough to turn "Rain" into a full-length musical. Written by Sybille Pearson and with music by Tony-nominated Michael John LaChiusa, The Old Globe's premiere production of Rain is a classic hit in the making. The show is directed by Old Globe Artistic Director Barry Edelstein, who is making his musical directing debut. This show will be unlike anything you've ever seen before - and I mean that literally. The Old Globe actually built a small, three story boarding house that will rotate and open up for the audience to see. In an interesting twist, most of the actors will never leave the stage.
Broadway veteran Eden Espinosa stars as the iconic Sadie Thompson, and we got a chance to speak with her. We asked Espinosa about Sadie Thompson, Michael John LaChiusa, and the crazy set! Check out our interview down below, and don't miss Rain, officially opening at The Old Globe on April 1st.
How did you get involved with The Old Globe’s Rain?
I had an audition in November. I had just signed with a new agency and this was the first audition they sent me on. You hear the words “Michael John LaChiusa” and “Old Globe,” and you get excited.
Were you familiar with Somerset Maugham’s short story “Rain” prior to your audition?
I wasn’t! I’d never heard of it; I’d never seen any of the movies. No, it was brand new to me.
Then, what’s it like to play such an iconic character like Sadie Thompson?
It’s really crazy. It’s challenging, and it’s really stretching me as an actress, which I love. I didn’t read the story or see any of the movies once I found out I was going to be a part of it until we got here. I read the short story [then] because I really wanted to have my own fresh perspective on her and the character. It’s challenging playing somebody who is “bad” or does bad things. As an actress, you have to really be careful not to judge the character that you’re playing and dig in deep. She has to deal with a lot of stuff in the show that makes [me] uncomfortable, but you have to really challenge yourself to go to those places and be as real as possible. I want her to be a human being and for the audience to feel for her and like her. So, long story short, it’s amazing. It’s challenging, but amazing.
When you read the short story, did that change your perception of Sadie and how you would approach her?
A little bit. In the story, I think she's a little harsher than I was originally playing her. So that has come in a little bit more. [She’s] not so sweet-sexy. She’s more salty-sexy, if that makes sense. She’s hard, she’s tough. She’s lived a lot of life. That has to definitely layer in.
I’ve heard rumor that the set opens up and the actors are always onstage. What’s it like never being able to leave the stage?
It’s crazy! This is the first show that I’ve done where I haven’t left the stage one time. I love the world that they’ve created for us and that we have to realistically live in the space like we would if we were alone. So you have to find business in your room that you would do if nobody was watching you. Change your clothes, wash your face, smoke a cigarette… I don’t know, that’s still unknown because we haven’t gone to the set yet. But it really helps the arc for me. I’m glad I don’t have any time where I can talk with my friends in the wings. (Laughs). I think it really adds to my journey and my arc for [Sadie]. I live the majority of the show in my bedroom. It’s my own little corner.
What can you tell me about the music?
Michael John LaChiusa is a genius. To be a part of his new show is an honor and amazing. The music is unlike anything I’ve ever sung before. My resume is composed mostly of contemporary theatre, and this is a period piece. That itself has also been a challenge, and it’s been wonderful. I’ve loved collaborating with Michael John. He’s so smart, and he’s an actor’s composer. He really is moment-driven and action-driven, and scene-driven. He really feeds into that, and it’s refreshing.
Do you have a favorite song that people should look out for?
I have a song in Act II that I love that I sing called “Alone.” But there are so many beautiful songs and catchy [songs] in this that every day when I wake up, I have a new favorite. There’s one called “The Stream” that is stunning. There’s also little transition moments between the couples that are just breathtaking. I can’t pick a favorite; I just can’t.
Well the preview looked great; so we’re excited to see it!
Thanks! I can’t wait for people’s reactions because Michael John [LaChiusa], Sybille [Pearson], and Barry [Edelstein] are not afraid to go to dark places and make people think and feel, and challenge an audience. I’m just so anxious to see what the reaction is. I’m so excited!
We're excited too! That's why we've got a fantastic video for you of Eden Espinosa singing "Sunshine" from one of Rain's rehearsals. Take a listen to her voice and tell me Rain won't be an incredible show, I dare you. This is one Old Globe production that you won't be able to forget.