Annie Golden and Anne L. Nathan on Being ‘Women of a Certain Age’
A lot of great things get better with age. Fine wine. Cheese. Actresses. Meryl Streep on “Big Little Lies” and Jessica Lange on “American Horror Story” are doing some career-best work — and so are Annie Golden and Anne L. Nathan, who share the leading role in “Broadway Bounty Hunter.” The celebrated actresses have been on Broadway in some of the Great White Way’s biggest hits – “The Full Monty” and “Assassins” (Golden), “Thoroughly Modern Mille” and “Once” (Nathan) – and now as “women of a certain age,” or so the opening number goes, they’re stepping into the leading lady spotlight.
Joe Iconis, Lance Rubin, and Jason “Sweettooth” Williams wrote the show, which follows a formerly famous, now-struggling actress who is recruited to as a bounty hunter, for Golden, whom Iconis first worked with in college when she appeared in his thesis musical. (That show, “The Black Suits” went through many iterations, and Golden proudly proclaims, “No one has ever done Mrs. Werring but me.”)
Golden played the title role in “Bounty Hunter” at Barrington Stage Company in 2016, and returns to the titular role at the Greenwich House Theatre through Sept. 15. Nathan takes on the role every Saturday matinee. Nathan met Iconis at Barrington years earlier through her work with William Finn, who produces the musical theater lab, and she has been eager to join Iconis’s family band ever since.
Each actress plays a heightened version of herself (the fact that they have similar names and red hair is pure coincidence), and the references to their careers in the show change depending on who is in the part. Over a post-rehearsal, pre-show snack in the West Village, TodayTix sat down with Golden and Nathan to talk about being leading ladies, collaborating with new composers, and the next show they’d do together.
On how they met
Golden: We did a Joe Iconis and Family concert, and we were sitting there for three hours throughout the other soloists. But then she went into “Once,” and my Broadway debut was the first revival of “Hair” in 1977. David Patrick Kelly was my Claude, and David was in “Once” with her. I had to learn a song of Niko Tsakalakos and it was “Driving Naked,” and it was Anne [on the demo]. Then I had to learn a score for Jeanine Tesori, and the demo was Anne Nathan.
Nathan: I don’t know if you know this, but I did the reading of “Violet” in your role, which I will tell you, you were much better than I was.
On drawing from their lives onstage
Golden: I just told [Iconis, Rubin, and Williams] stories of disrespect and stories of icky-ness. And they put it in. People think that when you’ve been around for a long time, they know every trick you have in your book and in your bag of tricks.
Nathan: One thing I love that’s in the script — and also in the staging — is that feeling you have of being invisible, which I can really relate to. That feeling where you’re like, are you really? It’s like shopping sometimes, you feel ignored by people — not just in the industry — just people walking down the street.
On working on new musicals
Golden: I came up with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, so I got lucky twice. Then when I discovered Joe Iconis, then Marc and Scott discovered Joe Iconis when they were doing “Smash.” They needed to go to London to work on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Mary Poppins Returns” so they had to hand the mantle over to someone for “Smash” to write the music and they gave it to Joe. I always say to my girlfriends, “You want to get your foot in that door, because they’re always going to need a spinster aunt or a crazy grandma or a nosy neighbor.” But you never think a leading lady. But they’re that imaginative that they think that way. They think of using your talent in a showcase lead role. So that’s kind of lovely.
Nathan: I do a lot of work up at Barrington stage because I’m very friendly with Bill Finn. So I’ve been doing the songs by ridiculously talented composers for years and years and years. It’s my favorite thing. And I just love the new composers. I mean, that’s where the game is. It’s not to say I don’t love the established ones too, but they’re just so enthusiastic and it’s nice to be around them.
On getting physical onstage
Golden: Well, I’ve done [“Bounty Hunter”] before so I know what it entails, but as I say, this production, they’ve upped the ante a little bit. And it’s really just keep your nose clean and just say, “No, I can do that. I can do that.” And you just think you can’t do something, or you think that you’ll never be able to do it in a timely fashion and you just rise to the occasion.
Nathan: I’m looking forward to the show, where I’m not sweating like a pig in the first 10 seconds. I look like I’m lifting a mountain because, I mean, it was new for me. I tap dance so I have done things that are physical in that way, but I don’t find the physical onstage as hard as all the stairs backstage.
On keeping a positive attitude as a steady working actor
Nathan: I think that if you’re an actor, at a certain age and you still want to work, there is a part of you that has to be that person that’s still gets excited when you get something good — or thinks something else is out there or tries to find that. Even though people beat you down a lot, you still are trying to find something that is positive.
Golden: But it’s because it’s your bliss and you can’t not do it.
On what their next show together would be
Nathan: We could do “9 to 5.”
Golden: “Follies.” Or we could do “Mame.” We could switch off Mame and Vera like the brothers do in “True West”!