Backstage Shenanigans: Bobbie Steinbach joins comedic team for “Light Up the Sky” at Lyric through June 13

There is nothing like the thrill of opening night.  No matter how many times the curtain has opened and closed in front of you, there is always an extra bit of electricity and energy that comes through that first time for each new production.

In the Lyric Stage’s production of Moss Hart’s comedy “ Light Up the Sky,” which is being presented through June 13  lightuptheskysome of Boston’s most experienced and popular actors will come together to share this excitement night after night. As the play takes place backstage on the opening night of a new play by a novice director (who has little in common with the show’s award-winning admiral, Scott Edmiston, who also directed such fan faves at the Lyric as  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof My Name Is Asher Lev , and  Private Lives ), the atmosphere of expectation is ever-present. And in the capable hands of the more-than-capable cast (which includes such local legends as Kathy St. George, Will LeBow, Paula Plum, and Richard Snee), the show is sure to build in popularity and punch as the run rolls along.

Having come a bit late to the party (as she admits she was to acting), Bobbie Steinbach has taken on the role of the “eccentric mother” of the fictional foray’s leading lady. However, the fact that the award-winning consummate professional had less time to prepare will most likely work to her favor, as it will make the show’s staged opening night jitters a bit more authentic.

“I did not start acting ‘til I was 35,” says the founding member of Actors’ Shakespeare Project who ha also performed with companies at the Lyric, Huntington, New Repertory, and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, as well as Boston Conservatory, and SpeakEasy Stage, among others, “so I was never an ingénue…. But I’m a grandmother in real life, so I have no illusions.”
This open-eyed approach to acting has helped Steinbach open the eyes of many other actors and audience members as she uses her comic training and personal pathos to reach emotional ends that few others can achieve.

“I love to make people laugh,” says Steinbach, who explains that she got her start in comedy, “but I also like to make people cry a little.”  As she will be surrounded by so many other comedic masters, Steinbach is excited to dig into this show and to perform with many of her oldest and dearest friends. “This is the best cast in the entire world,” she says. “It is the funniest, quickest, most delightful, generous group of actors.”

And whole she has not performed with all of her latest cast-mates, Steinbach is already certain when she says, “I love ‘em all!” She is also very excited to be working with Edmiston. “Sometimes I think about how I would direct them,” she says of her colleagues, “but mostly, I’m dealing with my own issues

Though the audience never gets to see the actual play fort which the players are preparing, Steinbach assures that the lead-in is far funnier than the punchline. “It is perfect because Hart loved theatre people but also saw their faults,” Steinbach says of what she terms the playwright’s “affectionate dig” at the theater community. “It shows those people in all their glory and all their not-so-pretty characteristics. They are all human beings, after all, with the same problems other people have.”

One of Steinbach’s greatest problems in the production is keeping a straight face when her fellow actors sound off.   “There’s such a great bunch of funny people on stage,” she says. “You can’t help but laugh!”

– Matt Robinson

Tickets: $56-$25 (student discounts are available)

140 Clarendon Street, Boston,     www.lyricstage.com   or by calling 617-585-5678   

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