Written By: Emme Duncan

The Theatre Workshop of Nantucket‘s production of Other Desert Cities opens August 19th with a star-packed cast! In this riveting drama, by award-winning playwright Jon Robin Baitz, Brooke Wyeth returns home to Palm Springs after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother, and her aunt. Announcing that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history, Brooke draws a line in the sand and dares them to cross it. Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012, this biting, razor sharp play will keep you on the edge of your seat!

In advance of opening night, N Magazine introduces you to the cast behind Other Desert Cities.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 1.38.18 PMCOLLEEN ZENK
Colleen Zenk is a three-time Emmy nominee in her 32 years as Barbara Ryan on “As the World Turns.” Her film credits include: Annie, Libby, Line to the Wall, Scout, and more. She has performed on Broadway in Bring Back Birdie, and in numerous regional productions including Hello, Dolly!, Follies, They’re Playing Our Song, and much more.

N MAGAZINE: How did you prepare for your role in Other Desert Cities?
ZENK: The role of Polly Wyeth, as are all the characters in this play, is complex, complicated, stalwart, and fierce. I usually play strong women, and she is one of the strongest I have ever portrayed. And on a personal note, she is loosely modeled on the mother of a dear friend of mine, and so my friend “schooled” me on the habits of her mother and father, who were prominent, powerful figures in Hollywood in the past several decades.

N MAGAZINE: What is the best thing you’ve done, seen, or experienced here on Nantucket when not rehearsing?
ZENK: One morning last week, I awoke at 3:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep. All of “Polly’s” lines were running through my head. I could see the sky getting brighter and decided to get up, get dressed, and go see the sunrise at the beach. I left our Naushop cast house at 5:30am and headed east to Wauwinet. The sky was incredibly gorgeous. Deep pink from east to west. I drove as far as I could go before told to “Deflate Tires”. Then, south to Sconset, Tom Nevers, and finally home. I was gone for 3 hours and back before my housemates even woke. A perfect Nantucket morning!

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 1.58.52 PMKATIE CROYLE
Katie Croyle is a Philadelphia-based actor. She has performed regionally with McCarter, Arden Theater, New Paradise Laboratories, EgoPo, Plays and Players, Whitebox Theater, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, PIFA, and Pig Iron Theater. Right here on Nantucket, she has performed with TWN in A Picasso, Dracula, The Cherry Orchard, and Moby Dick Rehearsed.

N MAGAZINE: How did you prepare for your role in Other Desert Cities?
CROYLE: Brooke is a fascinating character. She’s an author so I spent a lot of time (and currently spend a lot of time) writing. I try to write everyday, try to interpret the events in my life by putting them down on paper. I’ve read a few memoirs written by contemporary women to get a sense of the style she may be writing in. She also has a very dry sense of humor — very sarcastic and I totally relate to that. Brooke spent years of her life trying to understand/unpack a family tragedy that, through her eyes, seemed preventable. I think we can all relate to that feeling of “if I could have helped maybe things would be different.” I also think the play deals with seeing parents as fallible humans and for parents seeing their children as fallible adults. That’s something all families can relate to. It’s really a beautiful story of the complexities of familial relationships and how art can, should or shouldn’t have a place in those relationships.

N MAGAZINE: Tell us a little about your connection to Nantucket!
CROYLE: This is my fourth production with the Theatre Workshop! I’ve been coming to Nantucket since I was a little girl — my parents are seasonal residents. I’m a performer in Philadelphia and a few years ago I was looking for summer work outside of the city and was lucky enough (or smart enough!) to realize there was a wonderful little theater on island. The rest is history!

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 2.06.00 PMJOHN DEVANEY
John Devaney has acted with American Reperatory, Huntington, New Rep, New York Popular, Berkshire, Worcester, Stoneham, Folger Shakespeare, NH Shakespeare, Actors Shakespeare, Boston Theatreworks, Wheelock, and Chekov and Leningrad.

N MAGAZINE: How did you prepare for your role in Other Desert Cities?
DEVANEY: The experience of being in and of a family, roiled by its conflicts and its sometimes desperate need to protect and hold itself together, is certainly part of what I’ve drawn upon to understand my role as pater familias of the Wyeths.

N MAGAZINE: Do you have a favorite Nantucket memory?
DEVANEY: 1990. I stepped off the ferry, having been cast in an Actor’s Theatre production of Beyond Therapy. Up until then, Nantucket was just an odd name. I biked out to Madaket and swore I was in Paradise.

Davy Raphaely is proud to be making his TWN debut! His recent credits include A Life in the Theatre, Bad Jews (Walnut Street), 4,000 Miles (PTC), and The Chosen (Forestburgh Playhouse).

N MAGAZINE: How did you prepare for your role in Other Desert Cities?
RAPHAELY: I read the script years ago and fell in love with the play and the character of Trip. I think Trip and I have a similar sense of humor and speech patterns; so when preparing for the role I tried to throw as much of myself into the character as I could.

N MAGAZINE: What connection, if any, did you have to Nantucket before taking this role?
RAPHAELY: This is the first time I have ever been to Nantucket! My wife and I just got married and I am so looking forward for her to come see the show and visit. I’ve been planning and scoping out fun activities for the two of us to do. We will treat it as our 2nd mini-moon! I recently went with a few actors from Into the Woods for a bike ride on the Polpis Bike Trail over to ‘Sconset and we walked on the Bluff walk. The views were to die for and I will definitely be going back with my wife as soon as she gets here!

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 2.18.03 PMKATE SPLAINE
Kate Splaine has directed numerous productions for TWN, including All in the Timing, A Picasso, Six Degrees of Separation, I Hate Hamlet, Love, Loss & What I Wore, The Little Dog Laughed, and Becky Shaw. She has also performed as Clara in Hay Fever.

N MAGAZINE: How did you prepare for your role in Other Desert Cities?
SPLAINE: When I was just out of college and apprenticing with a regional theater, a great New York actor advised me that her first order of business when beginning rehearsals was to fall in love with everyone else in the room. This group has made that ridiculously easy. Amazingly, Davy Raphaely, who plays Trip, worked with that same actor, Beth Dixon, very recently in Philadelphia. As far as my character in Other Desert Cities, I relate to just about everything about Silda. In particular, how much she dotes on her niece and nephew. And how cranky she is!

N MAGAZINE: What has been your favorite moment or memory while rehearsing Other Desert Cities with TWN?
SPLAINE: It’s difficult to pick a single favorite. When we were rehearsing a showdown between Silda and her sister Polly, I suddenly realized I was going toe-to-toe in a full blown bitch fest with a thirty year veteran of “As The World Turns.” I may have been levitating from pure delight that night! What an opportunity. Who gets to do that? It’s one of the most fun things I’ve ever done onstage or off. Overall, the best part is definitely the education I’ve received from this most generous cast and director. They say playing tennis, you want an opponent who’s better than you because it ups your game. From that perspective, I’ve been at Wimbledon for the past month. Along with being killer talents, they’re all very kind, funny and total smartasses — my favorite type.

Other Desert Cities will run August 19 – September 19 at Centre Stage. You can purchase your tickets here.

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