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Dan Lauria and Patty McCormack talk about ‘Just Another Day’ play

Dan Lauria and Patty McCormack chatted about starring in the play “Just Another Day.”

Dan Lauria and Patty McCormack in 'Just Another Day'
Dan Lauria and Patty McCormack in 'Just Another Day.' Photo Courtesy of Shadowland Stages.
Dan Lauria and Patty McCormack in 'Just Another Day.' Photo Courtesy of Shadowland Stages.

Dan Lauria and Patty McCormack chatted about starring in the Off-Broadway play “Just Another Day.”

“Just Another Day” was written by Dan Lauria, and “it is about wonderful old friends who may not even know each other, but who relive and celebrate a life together…maybe.”

In “Just Another Day,” a comedy writer and a sophisticated poet in their seventies meet daily on a park bench to exchange wits and barbs, and wax nostalgic about old movies, all the while trying to figure out how they know – and love – each other. At least for that day.

“Just Another Day” was directed by Eric Krebs, and it stars Dan Lauria (“The Wonder Years”) and Patty McCormack (“The Bad Seed”).

‘Just Another Day’

This limited engagement runs through June 30 at the Off-Broadway Theater 555 in New York, with previews beginning on Friday, May 3rd. “We will see where it leads,” Lauria said.

Between them, Lauria and McCormack have over 100 years of live theatrical experience, as well as over 150 television shows and films.

“It has been a journey for Dan Lauria, and you wouldn’t believe it,” McComarck said about this play. “Patty jumped in with two days rehearsal on book and got rave reviews. Also, when Jodi Long did it, we got rave reviews there,” Laura said.

“We know now that it’s the play, and not us,” McCormack said with a sweet laugh. “It’s true. It means you have a good play when you have different people doing it that are so different from one another.”

McCormack on playing her character

On playing her character, McCormack said, “I make up what my character is because it’s not really clear, and it’s not clear to her, or to either of them who each one is. I hate to say what my character is because the audience should decide, so I don’t want to tip it any way at all. I have my moments where I am different people at all times.”

McCormack on how she handles being dialogue-heavy

When asked how she handles being dialogue-heavy, McCormack said, “I feel like Rocky now because I manage to memorize it. At times, it really is challenging, and the hardest thing are the easy words that will trip you up.”

“With the hard words, you focus on them until they are in there, and if you forget the word that bridges it together, then you’re dead because the rhythm is off,” she said.

“I feel really proud at this stage of my working life that I was able to get it in there and it is sticking. It is like the soap opera actors, who do pages and pages of scripts, all in one take,” she explained.

“When I did ‘General Hospital,’ the actors on there had reams of dialogue to learn and execute. That really helps with their muscle memory because the more they do it, then the better they get at it,” she said.

Lauria continued, “Like Laurence Olivier said, the best actors he has ever seen were on American soaps, especially since he himself could never remember all that dialogue.”

Lauria on the digital age of acting

On being actors in the digital age, now with streaming, technology and social media being so prevalent, Lauria said, “All I can say is that I’m glad I’m old. I think it’s much harder for younger actors because of self-tapes.”

“Many of them are coming out of college never having done a play but have created 10-minute movies, so they are technically proficient in making a movie, but that’s not what acting is. It’s a totally different thing,” he said.

Lauria continued, “When we first started, it was easy. You learned to act. You did plays where you didn’t get paid until you found one that hit. Then, you got an agent, and they sent you to a room and you auditioned with other great actors. You were in a room, and you were able to capture the room like we do in theatre.”

“A lot of these young people don’t even know what it means to be in a room,” he added. “Luckily, with our play, it is the children of people who are having trouble with memory that are enjoying this show.”

“This generation is much more interested in the past,” McCormack and Laurie concurred, especially “if they are exposed to it.” “Also, they can look things up that we did a long time ago on their phones,” McCormack said.

“Back in the day, writers were writing on television to stimulate thought,” Lauria acknowledged. “Today, every show on TV opens with a dead body and people trying to find out how it got there.”

McCormack on being inspired by the late Marsha Hunt

McCormack shared that she was a huge fan of Marsha Hunt growing up, an iconic actress whose career has spanned nearly eight decades. Hunt was blacklisted by Hollywood film executives in the ‘50s during the McCarthyism era, and she passed away at 104. “Marsha Hunt is worth looking up,” McCormack said.

“Marsha was in her 105th year, so almost made it to 105. She was a beautiful model who went to Hollywood, and she fell in love with acting, and she wanted to be a character actress,” they both concurred.

Lauria on Marsha Hunt

Lauria remarked, “Marsha was this leading lady and she walked out of her contract to go to a lesser contract to play more interesting roles. She achieved all this fame and then she got blacklisted, and she refused to take back her statement.”

“When Marsha went to Broadway, she ended up winning two Tony Awards, and then, at the height of that career, Marsha gave it all up to run UNICEF for 25 years,” Lauria said.

“Marsha went on a world tour with her husband, and that changed her whole life,” McCormack added.

Advice for young and aspiring actors

For young and aspiring actors, McCormack, “My advice to aspiring actors is to not think it’s a way to get rich and famous, if that is what you are shooting for.  Know that acting has to come from the love of pretending or writing.”

“The next thing I say is from personal experience is ‘to get an education, get a craft, and do something’ where you can earn a living. This way, you can be the best that you can be in your field,” McCormack added.

“My only advice to young actors is to not get caught at it,” Lauria said.

Stage of their lives

On the title of the current chapter of his life, Lauria said, “It Ain’t Over.” “Till the Fat Lady Sings,” McCormack jokingly laughed. “Those are two good titles,” Lauria reflected.

“I am grateful to still be doing this,” McCormack said. “I would love to write another play,” Lauria added.

Superpower of choice

If they were to have any superpowers, Lauria would love to have a “photographic memory.” “I love to read, and I would love to be able to speedread, and then have a photographic memory to be able to absorb it,” he explained.

“Most actors, even the ones that truly love to read, read slowly because of images coming in front of their minds, and I find that really interesting, and that has been proven,” he added.

“I would like to know that is coming in this world,” McCormack said with a sweet laugh. “By being a psychic, I can put my mind at ease.”

McComack on her Oscar nomination for ‘The Bad Seed’

McCormack was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for “Best Supporting Actress” for “The Bad Seed.” “That was a huge honor,” McCormack said. “I didn’t watch the Academy Awards when I was a kid.”

“This was the first time that a child actress was nominated for a competitive Oscar,” Lauria said about McCormack’s Oscar nod.

Lauria reflects on ‘The Wonder Years’

“It was great. No actor likes to hang his hat on any one hook but if you had to ‘The Wonder Years’ is a pretty well-accepted hook.”

“Working with Alley Mills and Danica McKellar on there was great,” Lauria exclaimed. “Alley did a play with us not too long ago.”

Success

On his definition of the word success, Lauria said, “Success is how well you do the next project.”

“Utilizing whatever it is that you can do in life and using your gifts. If you are not using all your gifts, then try using them because they are gifts.”

Closing thoughts on ‘Just Another Day’

On the message that they want to get across with “Just Another Day,” Lauria said, “The creative spirit doesn’t die, and tomorrow is a chance to create something again.”

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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