|Kelsey Leigh Ervi|
|Diana Sheehan as Diana Vreeland|
No matter how skilled the storyteller, it can sometimes be hard to tell a story. This task becomes immeasurably more difficult when the teller is expected to fully transform into the character both physically and mentally. To further complicate things, add the fact that your protagonist has a personality that is both legendary and larger than life. At Addison's WaterTower Theatre, local actress Diana Sheehan has been given quite the tall order. Full Gallop, opening at WaterTower Theatre Saturday night, chronicles the life of storied journalist and glamourous character, Diana Vreeland.
Vreeland, who served as editor of both Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, had a lavish and influential career in the fashion industry that spanned over five decades, culminating with her tenure as a special consultant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. In the play, Sheehan plays Vreeland as she faces a crucial moment in her career: being fired from Vogue in 1971. Mixmaster sat down with Sheehan to talk about transforming into Diana Vreeland, the surreality of playing a character with your own name, and the difficulty of performing a one-woman show.
Are there any specific things that you did to prepare that helped guide your transformation into Diana Vreeland?
It's very unusual to play someone who was a real person, first of all. Then, it was even more unusual to play someone who was so deliberate and well-edited as Diana Vreeland. Every single choice she made was important to her. There was a lot to do in terms of developing this character, but fortunately there is a lot of great material out there that helped me learn more about who she was. There are a lot of books on her, and there is a really great documentary about Diana Vreeland called The Eye Has To Travel.
There's a lot of footage of her in that film, so I was able to observe exactly how she was. How she moved, dressed, talked, and gestured. I also went to New York to visit The Costume Institute, which she founded. It was really fun, and I wanted to see this sort of opulence she talked about in regards to fashion and just her life in general. I also walked down Park Ave and found her apartment. I may have stalked down the doorman a little. I walked in her footsteps and reminded myself of her power. More »