The audience is sure to go wild when Carson Kressley takes Ogunquit Playhouse by storm June 9-26 to kick off a fantastic summer theater season across the state.
by Meagan S. Riedmann
The stage at Ogunquit Playhouse is about to be taken hostage and made over in true star fashion. Carson Kressley, Emmy-winning television personality from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and transformational self-esteem booster on How to Look Good Naked, will be starring as ‘Man in Chair’ in The Drowsy Chaperone.
Ogunquit Playhouse is famous for enticing notables to grace their stage, most recently Lorenzo Lamas the last two summers. It was a natural progression to seek out another big name this year. “Everyone here thinks Carson’s going to be an amazing asset to our summer theater; he has tons of fans, and people really love him,” says Cheryl Farley, director of marketing at Ogunquit Playhouse.
Carson waxes poetic about big martinis in our small-town taverns.
Have you done theater before?
I did theater in college but no role as major as this one. When they called me and asked me to play Man in Chair, I was like, oh my, this is going to be easy. All I have to do is just sit there. Then I read through the part, and this character is juicy, saucy, and snarky–he is not like me at all! The work I usually do is reality television, so it’s just me being me. It’s going to be really fun to play a character! It’s going to be very different, more theatrical. It’s going to be all about entertaining people so they can come out and have fun.
What drew you to the Ogunquit Playhouse team for summer theater in Maine?
First of all, just the idea of spending part of my summer in Maine. Summer in Maine is just heaven. I’m also looking for a small-town experience. I’ve always spent time in either big cities like New York or rural areas. I just want to walk around Ogunquit and pretend I live there. I can’t wait to go shopping and be part of the community.
What was the biggest fashion faux pas of the Jazz Age, the setting for The Drowsy Chaperone?
I just love the clothes, the flapper girl showing some leg, and fitted three-piece men’s suits, which are very in style right now. I think the worst thing they did was put actual grease in their hair. I mean, today we have all these amazing styling products. It was just horrible.
What if they make you put grease in your hair as part of your costume?
I’d do it if I had to for my art.
If you were to give Ogunquit a makeover, what would you do?
Nothing! I think it’s perfect, classic New England, but if I had to do anything I would add a Neiman Marcus.
What are you most excited about experiencing here during your stay?
Everything. If it was good enough for Bette Davis, it’s good enough for me. There are just so many things: lobster rolls, Maine beaches, outlet shopping in Kittery. There are so many great antique shops, too. It’s just world class shopping.
You came to Maine in 2007 to see a friend in the opening of La Cage Aux Folles in Ogunquit. Was that the first time you were here?
No, I was in Ogunquit in the early 1990s. It’s a huge gay destination, and I was there for Halloween.
Cheryl Farley at the Playhouse says when you came to the opening of La Cage Aux Folles you became an “instant friend” with many people at the theater. What is your fondest memory of that opening?
There’s a little bed and breakfast called Beach Street. The owners, Dick and Linda, invited us. We went to breakfast there, and it was so sweet–homemade muffins, friendly, warm and inviting. I can’t wait to go back there. That was my absolute favorite thing about my last trip.
Did you visit Marginal Way, the ocean walk in Ogunquit?
Yes. And I don’t think it’s marginal at all! That’s a terrible name for it. It’s got such gorgeous views of the ocean. If I had to rename it, I‘d rename it “Spectacular Way.”
What were your impressions of the white bridge over Perkins Cove? Did it remind you of anything?
I didn’t see it…but that’s a great name for a novel, White Bridge over Perkin’s Cove, by Carson Kressley. In fact, I will write that in my downtime.
Could you write a novel in a month?
Honey, I can barely read a novel in a month!
From your experience, what does the entertainment industry think of Maine?
I think everyone loves Maine. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that I was on a plane, sitting next to Stockard Channing (who played Rizzo in the screen version of Grease). She lives most of the year in Maine, and we were talking about it. I think people are realizing the beauty and tranquility of it. I can’t wait to experience that.
What was the most beautiful thing you saw on your last visit?
A guy named Luis and the beach, in that order.
What is the first thing you’re going to do when you get into Ogunquit at the end of May?
As soon as I get into town, I’m going to go have a big, fat martini and meet some of the locals.