Veteran actor nothing like role she plays in ‘Murder! (s): A (Mostly) True Crime Story’
Broken bones can't keep Stacey Garbarski off stage
Editor’s Note: “Stage Write/Stage Wrong” is an occasional series by Madison Magazine theater reviewer Aaron R. Conklin about those occasions when live performances do not go entirely according to the stage directions. Most actors, directors and designers have the grace and style to appreciate and/or survive dropped lines, stumbles and misbehaving props, but it’s the confident ones who are willing to relive and share those experiences with us.
Stacey Garbarski is quite aware she has little in common with the character she’ll be playing in “Murder! (s): A (Mostly) True Crime Story,” the latest original production by Are We Delicious? She’ll be playing Michael Malloy, an irritating Irishman in 1930s-era New York who becomes the target of multiple failed murder attempts by a group of speakeasy patrons looking to cash in on the life insurance policy they’ve taken out on him. Malloy earned the nickname “the Rasputin of the Bronx.” (Did we mention this is based on a true story?)
“This is not necessarily in my wheelhouse,” Garbarski admits. ” He was a 60-year-old drunk Irishman that everybody apparently hated. I’m a 26-year-old Millennial with only a mild drinking problem. ”
Still, the role — like all roles in AWD shows, is written, rehearsed and debuted over the course of a single week — gives Garbarski a few things to sink her teeth into. Like an Irish accent, for instance.
“It’s a caricature,” she says. ” It’s really fun. I can allow my body to be loose. ”
Her turn as Malloy is just the latest chapter in a long line of local theater experiences for Garbarski . She took time out from prepping for final run-throughs to share a few of those experiences.
Garbarski is a certified AWD veteran. This will be her 11th show with the troupe. And she says the 2015 AWD show “Family Saga” — an ensemble work that featured AWD artistic director Tony Trout, Dave Durbin, Matt Sloan, Kelly Maxwell, Miranda Hawk, Karen Moeller and Doug Reed — was her favorite time on stage. While the family onstage was written to be dysfunctional to the max, the backstage family just clicked.
“At every writing session, every rehearsal, every performance, lifelong friendships and lifelong inside jokes were made,” she says. ” Everyone was on the same page, working hard. It was wonderful. ”
Back in 2017, Garbarski — who, coincidentally was just featured in a Capital Times story about Millennial burnout — was in two shows at once: Mercury Players Theatre’s production of “August: Osage County” and Broom Street Theatre’s “Dumpster Flower.”
That double booking was tricky, made significantly trickier when she fell off a boulder wall at a local indoor climbing gym and shattered her ankle on the first day of rehearsals for both shows.
“I had to call both directors from the emergency room,” she recalls. ” I couldn’t drive to rehearsals and I was on drugs to help kill the pain. It was like a waking nightmare. ”
Rather than turn to the understudies, Garbarski’s directors made accommodations to keep her in both casts. For “August: Osage County,” her character was simply put on crutches. By the time “Dumpster Flower” opened, Garbarski was able to limp around a little in a walking boot.
” Murder! (s): A (Mostly) True Crime Story ” opens today — Thursday, May 23 — at The Winnebago performance space at 2262 Winnebago St. Additional shows are set for May 24-25, 30-31 and June 1. For tickets, click here.
Aaron R. Conklin writes his award-winning coverage of the Madison-area theater scene for madisonmagazine.com.
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