Although she portrays 19 different characters in her one-woman show, “Dames of Our Lives,” Maggie Condon doesn’t do costume changes. Standing on stage dressed in black, in her stocking feet, she just twirls around, and in an instant becomes someone else.
“I change my voice and my posture,” she said. “I even have dialogue between two characters. I create each character differently, physically and vocally.”
The set is sparse – just a bench – but sound effects help enhance the show.
“It’s a spoof of every sort of genre,” she said.
The Rumson resident will perform her show on Oct. 22 and 25 at the Two River Theater. “Dames of Our Lives” consists of two acts, with about 10 scenes in each act, so it’s a lot of characters, voices and dialogue to remember.
“There was one time where I did a spin and thought, ‘Who am I? Who am I going into?’” she said. But she quickly recovered and went on with the performance.
“Dames of Our Lives” is a comedy whodunit written by Condon more than 25 years ago. Back then, she performed the show in cabarets, regional theaters and off-Broadway. When she decided to revive it, she realized it needed a bit of updating, so television remotes, cell phones and up-to-date slang have been incorporated into the script.
“The core is still the same,” she said.
The show is billed as a raucous, shotgun satire, sort of a soap opera-style spoof. When small town bigwig Jack Blackwig is murdered, Jessica Ketchum and Officer Desaldorf look for the killer. Could it be sassy Shirley U. Canfelme from the Blackwig Beauty and Bait Shop? Perhaps it’s doddering domestic Agnes McMaid, jittery motel manager Norma Bates, or serial widow Eleanor Pointitty Mason Dixon Potter Blackwig.
“I forgot how much I love this show and how much I missed it,” Condon said.
Condon grew up in Jersey City in a theater-loving atmosphere.
“My family absolutely loved Broadway show tunes,” she said. “Every night, we would sit around the piano and sing. It was really wonderful.”
She studied theater at Providence College and later worked at Trinity Square Repertory Theater in Rhode Island. She moved to New York City to pursue opportunities there, and like many other aspiring performers, waited on tables to support herself while going on auditions and studying at the Actors Studio. During the 1980s, before the onset of the AIDS crisis, Condon worked at a restaurant on Christopher Street in the West Village. She describes it as a “hot and happening place” frequented by gays and celebrities, where everything was purple save for an opulent white staircase.
“It was a magical time,” she said.
It’s where she got the inspiration for her latest project, a screenplay about a young girl working at a restaurant on Christopher Street called The Purple Palace, at the onset of the AIDS epidemic. She is hoping it will get picked up as a cable television series.
“There are so many things I would like to do,” she said.
Condon and her husband Cushing, an attorney, moved to Rumson 18 years ago to raise their daughters Mary Claire, 19, a math major at Boston College, and Margaret, 16, a dancer who attends Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.
While she put her career on hold to raise her children, Condon found other ways to express her creativity. For several years, she was the owner of Maggie’s Catering of Rumson. Now that the girls are older, she is writing again and has several screenplays under development.
“I have been blessed to be able to be here for my kids and still have a very full life,” she said.
Condon is also thrilled to be performing “Dames of Our Lives” for a whole new audience. She is hoping to draw producers in to see the show and take it on tour one day. “I never thought I would do it again, and I don’t want to see it end here,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s great to be acting again.”
Dames of Our Lives will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22 and 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25. Tickets are $43 and seating is general admission. For more information, visit www.tworivertheater.org.
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