By Linda Froehlich
Motivated by lofty dreams and a vision, five co-workers chip in $900 each with the prospects of winning the $350 million lottery against one fatuous boss who develops his own scheme to defy their odds. Set in an Ohio data processing business, Windfall, a dark comedy by playwright, Scooter Pietsch, drives six unique characters on a quest to win the lottery. However, their plan eventuates into a series of mishaps, hysterics and a labyrinth of false hope.
Unlike a show about nothing, Windfall, the world premiere at Arkansas Repertory Theater, was a show about something and something big, notably to Lisa Ann Goldsmith. This past January, Lisa Ann’s agent submitted her for the role of Kate Rearden, the brassy office manager, and thus began Lisa Ann’s own personal windfall.
From the insurmountable submissions, Lisa Ann was selected to read for the role, which took her to New York, where she and approximately 150 other actors auditioned for the playwright and director Jason Alexander (that Jason Alexander). Her impressive reading grabbed the attention of the renowned director, who told her, “OK, so when I see you next time, this is what I want you to work on.” After her first audition, she flew back to Pittsburgh only to fly back to New York two days later for the callback. Distinguished from the first pool of 150 actors, the second round was scaled down to approximately 30 actors. As the stakes mounted, Lisa Ann assumed her best Kate and walked in for her second chance to win her own personal lottery. Under Jason’s direction, Lisa Ann went through a series of escalated risks to beget the Kate he had envisioned. After many fits and starts, Lisa Ann nailed it and without a beat, Jason uttered, “That’s my girl.”
Before jetting off to Little Rock, Arkansas, Lisa Ann was prepared and “off-book” for the upcoming rehearsals. One week before departure, however, she received a revised script and went back to the drawing board to relearn her lines before landing in Arkansas. Generally, first rehearsals are read-throughs. But not with Jason. He had everyone on their feet, blocking scenes, and thus started the zany and unpredictable dynamics of Windfall. Throughout the three-week rehearsal and four-week run of the show, Lisa Ann not only created the quintessential Kate, but also received rave reviews. Yet, tantamount to the entire Windfall experience, the relationships she established with cast and crew continue to be her most memorable.
A native New Yorker, Lisa Ann has made her home in Pittsburgh, where she divvies up her time between acting, directing, dialect coaching and teaching. And although her career absorbs most of her time, it’s her dynasty of five cats that consumes the heart of her life.
Ask Lisa Ann what she gleaned from the surreal experience of Windfall and her response is, “You never know when a big thing is going to hit.” Can anything top this? In her tenacious spirit, she alleges, “There is something else; I just don’t know what it is.” Given much is in Lisa Ann’s favor, we can anticipate her next windfall. It will come.
Lisa Ann Goldsmith on stage in her role as Kate Rearden in Windfall this summer.
This item was originally featured in the November 2016 local newsletter.