Monday, April 9, 2012

A Few Words with...ADRIANE LENOX!

Adriane Lenox has received rave reviews for her role as Mrs. Duke in REGRETS, the critically acclaimed new play by Matt Charman, now playing at Manhattan Theatre Club. The play, an uncommon tale of friendship, loss and finding the courage of one’s convictions is directed by Carolyn Cantor and also stars Alexis Bledel ("Gilmore Girls"), Curt Bouril ("Boardwalk Empire"), Ansel Elgort (Off-Broadway debut), Brian Hutchinson (MTC's From Up Here), Lucas Caleb Rooney (Orphan's Home Cycle), and Richard Topol (The Normal Heart).

Lenox returns to MTC after having created the role of Mrs. Muller in John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, for which she received the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play. Her other Broadway credits include Caroline, or Change; Kiss Me, Kate; How to Succeed…; Dreamgirls and Ain’t Misbehavin’. Off-Broadway she has appeared in Miss Evers’ Boys, Dinah Was (Obie Award, AUDELCO), and Cavedweller. She was most recently seen in the long-running Off-Broadway hit Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Her regional theater credits include Blithe Spirit, The Color Purple (premiere), On the Town (Helen Hayes Award). We’ve seen her in films such as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Blind Side, Black Snake Moan, My Blueberry Nights, Where God Left His Shoes, and Preachin' to the Choir. She has a long list of TV credits that include appearances on “Damages,” “30 Rock,” “Detroit 187,” “Lipstick Jungle,” “Griffin & Phoenix,” “Third Watch,” "Law & Order: SVU," “Law & Order,” and "Shark."

Not long ago we got the chance to ask Lenox a few questions about Mrs. Duke. Here’s what she had to say about this truly fascinating woman.

Tell us about your character, Mrs. Duke. Who is she? Where is she from? How did she, an African American woman, become a business owner in 1950s Nevada?

Mrs. Duke is a product of the great migration when blacks moved north from the oppression of Jim Crow in the South to places like Chicago or New York. Of course, racism was still experienced (in Nevada) but not to the extent in places like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and the like. The playwright, Matt Charman, met me before rehearsals and even casting had been completed to talk with me about Mrs. Duke's character so he could flesh it out more. I gave him a "biography" of who I thought she might be, where she's from, the kind of car she drove or music she may listen to as well as what she might do for a living, etc. He took that sketch and a lot of it ended up in the script.

Why did you choose to take the role?

I took the role because I liked her. She's intelligent and feisty; savvy business wise and a little crusty but decent overall.

What lessons can Mrs. Duke teach us about negotiating the world as an African-American woman in 1954 and in 2012?

This cannot be answered without bringing the recent incident/tragedy surrounding Trayvon Martin into the picture. Mrs. Duke is a mother and she would not see much difference between a lynching of a son in 1954 and the shooting of this boy. Therefore negotiating some 58 years later in America is not hugely different now than then in some circumstances. Negotiating would entail watching your back, living to the best of your ability with integrity and intelligence and appropriate courage. The truth is that laws have been passed but they do not change the heart of a man. There is still the struggle for equality. Ask any African American mother from any generation what she fears concerning her black son in America. Trayvon's story is not an aberration - there are many similar ones from around the country. Discrediting the child is a smokescreen it seems to cover up what is now coming to light from the voice analysis of who was actually pleading for help on the 911 call to who this Zimmerman certainly appears to actually be. Yes, there are two sides to every story but which story is more plausible?

You can check out Adriane Lenox in REGRETS at MTC’s City Center Stage 1, 131 West 55th Street through April 29th. For more information about the play and a complete list of performances visit

One more thing: See REGRETS and save over 40% off the regular ticket prices. Tickets are just $45 (reg. $80). There are three easy ways to purchase these discount tickets: Online: Visit and enter code 9082. Call: CityTix® at 212.581.1212 and mention code MBTB. In Person: Bring this offer to the New York City CenterBox Office, 131 West 55th Street, NYC.

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