Lisa Lampanelli on Losing Vagina Weight, Working with Donald Trump & New Play “Stuffed”
Time Out New York says STUFFED is “equally HILARIOUS and HEARTBREAKING!”
The New York Times says “Now that Joan Rivers is gone, no one in #comedy is stomping on sensitivities as consistently as Lisa Lampanelli.”
ANN HARADA (Stacey) Ann Harada originated the role of Christmas Eve in Avenue Q on Broadway and the West End. Other Broadway includes Cinderella, 9 to 5, M Butterfly, Seussical, Les Miserables (revival). Recent Off-Broadway includes Brooklynite (Vineyard Theatre) and Love, Loss, and What I Wore (Westside Theatre). Regionally: 42nd Street and Mamma Mia (MUNY), and God of Carnage (George Street Playhouse). Film: Youth in Oregon, Sisters, Trouble, Admission, Hope Springs, and The Art of Getting By. TV: “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” “The Good Wife,” “SMASH,” “30 Rock,” “House of Cards,” “Master of None.”
ZAINAB JAH (Katey) Recent credits include: Maima, Eclipsed (Broadway); title role of Hamlet (The Wilma Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo N Juliet, Trojan Women (Classical Theatre of Harlem); The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Atlantic Theater, NYC), Prudence in The Convert, Josephine in Ruined, A Doll’s House (Williamstown Theatre Festival); In Darfur (The Public Theatre /NYSF), Peter Sellars’ Children Of Herakles (European Tour). Film/TV credits: New York, I Love You (Short), “Law & Order SVU,” Outliving Emily (with Andre Braugher and Philicia Rashad). Awards: OBIE Award (Eclipsed), Philadelphia Critics’ Circle Best Actress Award (Hamlet); Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award Best Featured Actress (The Convert); San Francisco Bay Area Critics’ Circle – Outstanding Performance Female Featured Role (Ruined); and Best Featured Actress, Philadelphia Critics’ Circle Featured Actress Award (The Convert).
JESSICA LUCK (Britney) Jessica is thrilled to be making her off-Broadway debut in Stuffed! Select NY Theater: The Digger (La MaMa), The Blood Brothers (The Brick), The Quake (Ideal Glass), Our Town (The Gene Frankel), and The Disembodied Soul (NY Fringe). Web Series: Down Dog and Carolers. Jessica is a Yale graduate and a recent Rockwell scholar at ESPA/ Primary Stages. She is a member of the rock band My Dear Mycroft and the improv team The Jessicas.
LISA LAMPANELLI (Playwright/Lisa) Lisa Lampanelli shot her fifth stand-up special, “Back to the Drawing Board,” which premiered June 26, 2015 on EPIX and was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for “Best Comedy Album.” In the special, Comedy’s Lovable Queen of Mean showed off her radically different look after having lost more than 100 pounds. That weight loss, which she has maintained for over four years, inspired her to write Stuffed since, having been every size from 2 to 26, she has firsthand knowledge of the food and body-image struggle.
Lisa became a household name when she joined 17 other celebrities on the fifth season of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” where she advanced to the final four in the competition, raising $130,000 for her chosen charity, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. She also starred as a regular on “Bounty Hunters,” CMT’s first-ever animated series, and recently stole the show on an episode of CBS’s “2 Broke Girls,” helmed by “Sex and The City” creator, Michael Patrick King.
Lampanelli joined the ranks of comedy greats with her 2009 HBO comedy special, “Long Live the Queen,” and that same year, released her autobiography, Chocolate, Please:
My Adventures in Food, Fat and Freaks (Harper Collins). Lisa was also a monthly writer for the Women column in Playboy Magazine and is a contributor to the blog for Kripalu, the world-renowned yoga and meditation retreat center.
Photographs by Carol Rosegg
As Lisa Lampanelli, the comedy favorite, prepares to make her playwriting debut, Theatermania stopped by WP Theater to interview Lisa, director Jackson Gay, and the cast of STUFFED.
Tony Award winning director John Rando: “Lisa has a tremendous capacity to get connected to her feelings and her bravery is boundless. She’s terrific, intelligent, and top-notch.”
The Writer Magazine: “Lisa Lampanelli is fearlessly funny. Onstage, she can repeat something she’s told 20 times, but it sounds as if she just thought of it. Others could never get away with it.”
Michael Musto, Paper Magazine: “The queen of outrageous comedy, Lisa Lampanelli happens to have a lot of heart, particularly when dealing with weight and food issues.”
Psychology Today: “Lisa’s ability to be more open and vulnerable has not only helped her perform to her potential during difficult times, but also the crowd appears to be picking up on this new aspect of her comedy.”
New York Times best-selling author Jane Green: “She has evolved. She’s known as Comedy’s Lovable Queen of Mean, but there’s so much more depth now. . . more authentic. You can’t write a play that resonates with people emotionally unless you’ve gone through a tremendous amount of stuff. It’s about the journey to healing and wisdom.”
Lenny Bruce biographer, Ronald Collins: “Lisa Lampanelli is a comedian with an independent and irreverent streak akin to that of Lenny Bruce. Her robust comedy, like Bruce’s, takes no prisoners — and that’s just how it should be.”
The New York Times: “Queen of Mean. An equal-opportunity offender.”
Starring as Katey in Stuffed, award-winning actress Zainab Jah‘s recent credits include: Maima, Eclipsed, Broadway; title role of Hamlet, (The Wilma Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo N Juliet (Classical Theatre of Harlem), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, (Atlantic Theater, NYC), Prudence The Convert, Josephine, Ruined, A Doll’s House ( Williamstown Theatre Festival), Helen of Troy, Trojan Women, (Classical Theatre of Harlem), In Darfur, (The Public Theatre /NYSF), Peter Sellars’ Children Of Herakles, ( European Tour). Film / TV credits: New York, I Love You (Short), “Law & Order SVU,” Outliving Emily (with Andre Braugher and Philicia Rashad), Along Came Love, with Vanessa Williams. Awards: Philadelphia Critcs’ Circle Best actress Award (Hamlet ) Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award Best Featured Actress (The Convert); San Francisco Bay Area Critics’ Circle – Outstanding Performance Female Featured Role (Ruined); and Best Featured Actress, Philadelphia Critics’ Circle Featured Actress Award (The Convert).
Zainab Jah, ‘Eclipsed’ Star, Is Ready for Battle
By ALEXIS SOLOSKIFEB. 17, 2016
In “Eclipsed,” which begins previews Feb. 23 at the Golden Theater,Zainab Jah plays Maima, an AK-47-toting soldier who has given herself the name Disgruntled. But one evening at a South Brooklyn bistro, plates of oysters arrayed before her, Ms. Jah seemed content. “I’m greedy,” she said, with enthusiasm and without apology.
A self-described “fitness fanatic” who declined to give her age (“I don’t tell; I’m a lady,” she said), Ms. Jah is slim and not quite 5-foot-2, but with her plumb line posture, coiled braids and forceful energy, she looms larger. Especially when she’s holding a machine gun. Onstage, in Danai Gurira’s play about women entangled in a civil war in Liberia, she is incandescent, fierce and gentle, moving with tenacious grace. Offstage, the wattage is only a little dimmer. She even manages to slurp oysters with poise.
Born in England, she spent her first 10 years with a grandmother in Sierra Leone before joining her parents, both doctors, in England. It was that grandmother who first introduced her to theater, recruiting her for a church troupe called Christ’s Little Band.
Despite pressure from her parents to pursue medicine or law, she trained as a dancer and worked happily for several years before she began craving another form of expression. “I just sat up in bed and said, ‘I want to be an actor,’” she said.
Initially, directors would cast her only in Greek tragedies or Shakespeare. But she expanded her repertoire with a number of plays set in Africa, like Lynn Nottage’s “Ruined” and Ms. Gurira’s “The Convert.”
She first played Maima in 2009, rejoining the play Off Broadway last year, just after wrapping the title role of “Hamlet” at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. (Word of warning: For her art, Ms. Jah has learned to fire an automatic weapon and wield a sword. Stay on her good side.)
Her approach to character is rigorous and largely physical, a holdover of the dance training. “It’s always instinctive before it becomes intellectual,” she said. She thinks of Maima as a little Yorkshire terrier. “They’re always the first to attack the big dogs in the street,” she said.
While working on the play, she can’t let Maima go. After a rehearsal, she’ll get dressed, go home and watch documentaries about Liberia. “I don’t know whether it’s because I’m African myself, but I have to give such a completeness to these characters,” she explained. “I feel I will do them a disservice by not living in them full time.”
© 2016 The New York Times Company