This summer, Grey’s Anatomy star Kelly McCreary is returning to her theater roots, starring as Esther Mills in Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor.
We recently caught up with McCreary to chat about her Intimate Apparel character, summer in the Hamptons, and more.
You made your Broadway debut back in 2008. What’s it like to be back on stage?
KM: It’s great! I feel very much at home in the theater. It’s what I came up doing, as a kid, and my professional career started there. It’s wonderful to be back. As much as I love working in television, I miss it. I miss being on stage. So I’m very lucky to be back.
What attracted you to your character?
KM: So many things. This play is just so beautiful. It’s one of my favorite plays ever. The journey that this character goes on, since I first saw it in 2004, I have a completely different understanding and level of empathy based on my own life experience for the challenges of this woman. I love a character that is so complex that every time you revisit it you find deeper and deeper levels of their humanity. So I think that’s sort of the overall arching reason why and there’s sort of a million little ones as well.
How does preparing for a theater role differ from a role on television?
KM: I would say that the main difference is that in a play there’s a beginning, middle and end. So you know exactly what the character is going through and how they transform so you can chart that and use the text to bring those peaks and valleys to life. In television, there’s no ending necessarily in sight so you’re constantly growing it, and just like life, frankly, you don’t know until much later until reflecting on it which are the peaks and valleys. It’s just a different approach to understanding people – to be more immediate and theater gives a bit more space for reflection.
Have you ever been to the Hamptons?
KM: I did go out once and I don’t know where the heck I was, but I stayed at the home of a friend and we didn’t really leave. I haven’t really visited the sights and the restaurants and done the whole Hamptons thing. So I’m excited to do that this time.
Is there anywhere you’re dying to go?
KM: I haven’t really done research yet. I know the food is great out there, and I’m excited to be near the beach. I can’t imagine a better way to spend the summer. I’m a city girl and I grew up in the Midwest so I’m sort of late in life to the beach experience, coming late in life to it now that I’m in L.A. and I love it.
Your Grey’s Anatomy co-star Ellen Pompeo has a house in the Hamptons. Will she come see the show?
KM: I believe so. I believe her visit will overlap with the show and she has plans to come out.
Now you worked with Ellen during her directorial debut last season. Did you reach out to her for any guidance with this play?
KM: No. I absolutely loved working with her as a director. My character was sort of central to the storyline of the episode she directed and we had a terrific time. It was so thrilling to watch her grow these new artistic muscles, seeing as though it was her first time directing. For this play, she was excited for me, but I sort of approached this from my old fashioned character development standpoint.
KM: I literally leave the Hamptons and go directly back to work at Grey’s. I’ve got a really fun, exciting animated project, but it’s still a secret. I should be able to announce it sometime in the fall or winter of this year.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
KM: I want people to know that this is an incredibly beautiful play and I think that in the times that we’re living in, when people are really disconnected from one and other, particularly from people who have different ideas or backgrounds or politics than them, it’s a good play to come out and be reminded of how much we all have in common across our various socio, political and cultural lines, and have a wonderful, enriching, beautiful artistic experience.
Intimate Apparel can be seen at Bay Street Tuesday, July 4 through Sunday, through July 30.
Bay Street Theater is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.