When I chatted with two darling ladies I had never met, Denise Crosby and Jamie Rose, it was like talking to old friends, because we all share a love for the theater. For Denise and Jamie, the theater is also an old friend that they embrace regularly, and they praised The Tolucan Times for being such a strong supporter of theater. Not only do live performances nurture the actors’ craft, it also gives a special experience to the audience that’s “in the moment, like catching lightning in a bottle,” Crosby described. “The stage is not only my friend, it’s my soul sister, and gives me much love in return.”
Although she has impressive credits in television, on Mad Men, NYPD Blue, and one of the most popular series ever Star Trek: The Next Generation, plus films, Crosby keeps revisiting the theater. “I think actors come to life in the theater. You’re living in the present moment of what you’re doing. No one is going to yell ‘cut’ or ‘let’s have another take.’ You are flying by your own creative juices, and that’s a thrill. There are no retakes in life or on stage,” she explained.
Fittingly, her latest show is about best friends in Revisiting Wildfire, with Jamie Rose, having its world premiere at the Odyssey Theatre through July 31. Jamie and Denise weren’t friends before they went into rehearsals, so they made a point of hanging out together to build the lifelong gal-pal chemistry that will make their relationship believable onstage.
“We had met many years before, but when we were cast, we got together and immediately knew that we were going to be fine playing best friends,” Crosby told me. And now both have a new friend for life. The play by Kari Floren, directed by Eve Brandstein, has the song Wildfire by Michael Murphey creating the backdrop to the captivating piece about two women at the crossroads of their lives.
Jamie Rose started young in the acting business, making her debut on Green Acres when she was six. She discovered the joys of doing live theater later in life, after she amassed some impressive credits in film and television. But she grew up around life in the theater.
“The theater is an old friend in a way because I grew up around it,” Rose said. “My parents, who live in Toluca Lake, were musical comedy performers. They met doing a show, and I grew up backstage watching them perform, enjoying the magic. My career took me more in the direction of film and television, but I’ve always had this pull towards the stage. It’s a very comfortable place for me, like home.”
Rose sees shows around town and goes on trips to New York for a barrage of shows. “I always get this excited feeling right before the curtain goes up. There is something about being in a theater even as an audience member. It’s exciting because anything can happen. Every night is different. It’s an exciting new experience every night.”
As a performer, Rose said the stage renews her spirit and drive to express herself, and that is sort of the theme of Revisiting Wildfire. “The characters’ arc in the play has them wanting to express themselves during the last half of their lives,” Rose revealed, not shy about telling her age, at a gorgeous 51 years. She quotes Victor Hugo’s feelings about age, saying, “Fifty is the old age of youth, and the youth of old age.”
With age comes changes, she said, “and you start to ask what do I want to do with the second half of my life. That’s not morose. I mean that in a very positive way.”
Finding a “new dance to do” when you come to life’s crossroad is an idea that Rose embraces, and she has just written a book titled Shut up and Dance. Coming out this fall, the memoir/self-help book is about her experiences learning the Argentine tango, and how it affected her life. Just like the theater, she said becoming an author “has allowed me the joy of truly expressing myself.” May we all find that unbridled joy in whatever we do.