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All the Times Amy Adams Was Theatre

17 September 2021 by Tina Wargo
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Six-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams isn’t just one of the greatest actors of her generation — she lives the job. Ahead of her sure-to-be star turn as Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie in the West End, we’re looking back on all the times she *was* theatre.

There are celebrities, there are actors, and then, there are stars. The kinds of people who almost literally shine through the screen or light up the stage from the minute they arrive. They’re incredible even in projects that don’t necessarily celebrate them. They’re all bops, no skips. They are, frankly, the reason I philosophically believe Actress should always be writ with a capital “A.” They demand respect, they dominate their field, and luckily for folks like me, they publicly share their gifts with the world in new and exciting ways throughout their careers.

One such Actress and absolute star is Amy Adams. There’s never been a single second over the past 20 years where I’ve seen Amy Adams in a role and thought, “That’s fine.” She’s a legend. She’s an icon. She IS the moment. And now, she’s bringing her star power to the London stage.

As we all prepare emotionally for the somehow real and not made up dream fantasy that is Amy Adams as Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, let’s take a stroll down Actress Memory Lane (colloquially known as The Diane Lane to those in the biz) and revisit some of the brightest and best moments that have made Amy Adams, Actress, the star she is.

SNL Singing Sisters Sketch

This perhaps lesser-known moment in the Amy Adams career timeline is one that stands out, to me, as an underrated miracle. It was a cultural reset that came quietly and did not change the world with a bang nor a whimper, but certainly stuck in my brain in such a way that I rarely get through a month without having to pull up the video and watch it on a loop for 20 minutes straight.

The conceit is simple: three women (Amy Adams, Kate McKinnon, and Cecily Strong, a holy trinity of Actresses) at a bar make a bet with three unassuming men that they’ll be able to guess which drink they’ve been given, lest the women have to eat garbage. Also, they sing Christmas songs for some reason. The plot twist here is better and more unhinged than anything M. Night Shyamalan has produced since The Village, and Amy Adams’s comedy chops are to blame for its reverberating power all these years later.

Amy Adams Not Having An Oscar

Listen. There is no one on this cursed Earth who believes in Amy Adams more than I do. I’ve had a fleece blanket from the Disney Store bearing her cartoon likeness from Enchanted on my bed for 14 years. I used to carry around her Night At The Museum 2 Amelia Earhart character trading card from a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy in my wallet “just in case.” I am writing this article.

And even I have to admit that at this point, it is absolute performance art that Ms. Amy Adams does not have an Academy Award. It’s farce. It’s camp. It’s performance art. For whose benefit? I’m not yet sure. But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that her lack of Oscar gold is so unnerving and deranged, it’s positively theatre.

Enchanted

The existence of Enchanted was a real bittersweet moment for theatre kids. It introduced us to the zany, funny, cartoonishly real world of a modern Disney princess, played with surprising nuance and care by Amy. It was an instant star-maker, with all the trappings of the Disney movies of our childhoods, plus McDreamy and evil Susan Sarandon and Idina Menzel and catchy new classic tunes like “That’s How You Know” and “Happy Working Song.”

The bitter part of all this? We were given a sweet, sweet taste of Amy Adams in a musical, and then made to learn that she was, in fact, an Actress of all trades and couldn’t, sadly, solely appear in films that allow for full choreo and prolonged belts. Nearly 15 years later, a sequel is in the works and we’ll soon be repaid for the inflicted trauma of a Giselle-less decade. But for now, there’s always time for a second (or third, or hundredth) rewatch.

That Time She (Maybe) Got Tattooed With Cate Blanchett

There are those Hollywood legends you hear about on podcasts or at dinner parties or in documentaries that make you do metaphorical double-takes and stay in your head each time you happen to encounter any adjacent character in the tall tale. Affairs. Feuds. Sometimes, even crimes.

My favorite unconfirmed myth? The Amy Adams Cate Blanchett Tattoo Saga of 2014. Let’s start with the facts: Cate Blanchett, certified Actress and star, won the Academy Award that year for her role in Blue Jasmine. The next day, Cate Blanchett and one Amy Adams were spotted, alongside their partners, at a tattoo shop in LA. Cate left with a bandage on her wrist; Amy left, seemingly, unmarked. Or, at least, not in a place clearly visible in a paparazzi shot.

She’s been asked about it and played it coy, never really revealing what went down that morning and why, and honestly, I’m not sure I ever need to learn. The endless loop of hypotheticals and theories that play out in my mind each time I remember this sacred event is worth more to me than the truth. Actresses keeping each others’ secrets? Now, THAT’s theatre, baby!!!

This Image

Something I believe in as deeply as others find peace and comfort in religion or yoga or Marvel movies is the healing power of “photos of celebrities backstage at award shows.” There’s nothing better than candids of famous people who otherwise likely wouldn’t be in situations together sharing wild, wacky backstage moments. One such image that has tattooed itself onto my frontal cortex is this Renaissance painting of Amy Adams lunging for a burger.

To sum up: in this image, I am Amy Adams, and “a picture of Amy Adams lunging for a burger” is the burger.

The Muppets

It was a wonderful day when the world finally got to see Amy Adams in the first of the new iteration of The Muppets films. If you really think about it, this casting makes perfect sense. The Muppets are goofy. They’re sweet. They’re earnest when they need to be and when they’re musical, they’re at their best. In short, Amy Adams was born to be part of the MCU (Muppet Cinematic Universe).

Her turn as Mary, love interest to Jason Segal’s Gary, is positively inspired. In particular, it was her performance in the show-stopping number “Me Party” that really sold me on the perfection of this film. Give it a listen and tell me I’m wrong for immediately falling in love and subsequently making Amy’s voice saying “Mahna mahna” (featured in the film’s finale number) my text ringtone for six full years. You legally cannot!

Doubt 

So far, nothing on this list has been as patently theatrical as Amy Adams in a movie adaptation that was quite literally ripped from the stage. Her portrayal of Sister James in John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt earned her her second Oscar nomination and ruined my junior year in high school, as I was forced to deal with the fact that the only thing worth talking about was Amy, Meryl Streep, and Viola Davis sparring onscreen while my classmates were preoccupied with The Dark Knight or whatever.

No matter what you remember about it, it’s worth a rewatch. Every actor is at the top of their game, the material is as topical as ever, and Amy Adams certainly knew what she was doing all the way back in 2008: preparing for her May 2022 debut.

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Drop Dead Gorgeous is one of those movies that is brought up at every single liberal arts college hang sesh during freshman year orientation, specifically in the drama dorms. Its satirical, dark comic sensibility is intriguing enough, to be sure, but its cast is really what has turned it into somewhat of a camp classic. Amy Adams makes her film debut alongside Kirsten Dunst, Ellen Barkin, Brittany Murphy, Allison Janney, Denise Richards, and Kirstie Alley, which as a sentence alone is enough to send most folks I know into a tailspin. The kicker here is that it’s so good, it’s actually not streaming anywhere at the moment, making it a real “if you know, you know” situation. And us Amy Adams Stans? We know.

Also This Image

As per my last email, this image is one that’s haunted me on my best days and on my worst. Just look at it. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but some are worth millions, and there’s nothing I can say that one single glance at this work of art has not said and can not say for itself.

Some things don’t need any further comment; they’re perfect just the way they are. Amy Adams and Emma Thompson together are two of those things.

Dear Evan Hansen

Having seen nothing by date of publication besides the trailer eight times and the poster at every bus stop I pass, I can say that Amy Adams’s performance in this highly anticipated adaptation will be a cultural reset. She barely sings. She’s completely heartbroken the majority of the film. And Julianne Moore as Heidi Hansen stays largely segregated from her fellow redheaded Actress, which is honestly a blessing to the queer community, as their minimal scene-sharing in The Woman In The Window already derailed my spring this year.

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

It being days after 2021’s Met Gala, the state of the world RE: thirst seems to be that Lee Pace is a verified snacc, though if you’re a theatre kid who was highly active in the first decade of the oughts, you would already know that. His work on the highly underrated Pushing Daisies left folks of all persuasions crushing on a dead-waking pie-maker, and his turn as a penniless pianist in Miss Pettigrew scratched the forbidden teenaged itch: a tall, nice, cute man who can sing.

His role opposite Amy Adams’s vibrant and vulnerable Delysia Lafosse in this criminally under-discussed romcom romp is made better only when you take into account that Frances McDormand was also around, in the titular role, no less. It’s one of Amy’s most forgotten but most exuberant roles and yes, Virginia, there is a soundtrack.

Into the Woods

It’s been nearly 10 years since Amy Adams played the role of The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods during Shakespeare In The Park’s 2012 season, and I can say with full sincerity that I’ve been chasing the high of a theatrical experience as magical as that one ever since. In my wildest dreams, I’d never imagined that my red-headed queen would take the (outdoor) stage in one of the most universally beloved musicals, starring alongside the likes of Donna Murphy, Jessie Mueller, and Denis O’Hare, but reader, it happened, and just remembering we had that “and” when we’re back to “or” really does make the “or” mean more than it did before!

If you’re anything like me, first of all I’m sorry, and second of all, I know you’ve been impatiently awaiting her theatrical resurgence, as I have. The time has come, Amy hive. Adams supremacy reigns. Get your pre-sale tickets to The Glass Menagerie in the West End now, for you never know when these moments in the woods will come again.