Backstage with Jennifer Coombs

Backstage with Jennifer Coombs

Posted by: at 02/20/2015 11:53 AM

As Rapture, Blister, Burn winds down its run, leading lady Jennifer Coombs took a break from performances to chat about the show. Rapture, Blister, Burn must close Sunday, February 22. Get tickets before it's too late!

(L to R) Karen Janes Woditsch (Gwen Harper), Jennifer Coombs (Catherine Croll) and Cassidy Slaughter-Mason (Avery Willard) in Gina Gionfriddo’s Rapture, Blister, Burn, directed by Kimberly Senior.

1. Place of birth and/or hometown: I was born in Los Angeles and raised in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. I spent much of my childhood and my 20s in Eugene, Oregon, and the majority of my family is still there. I have lived in Chicago for the past 10 years.

2. Current obsession (music, TV show, book etc.): I'm currently obsessed with re-decorating my apartment. While shopping for new rugs and antique bar carts, or pouring over design books, I love me some Whitney Houston playing in the background. I'll also put on eposides of Will & Grace because I think Megan Mullally is the best. Period.

3. Favorite Chicago spot (newly discovered or old favorite): Avec.  My girlfriends and I go there whenever we celebrate a birthday and I take friends visiting from out of town. I love the space and the food. They've had the same staff for years and always take such good care of us.

4. What drew you to Rapture, Blister, BurnFirst off, the opportunity to work with the incredibly insightful and brilliant Kimberly Senior. She is just pure magic. We've never worked together before, but I fell instantly in love with her from day one.  Second, this play is a valentine, I feel, to my girlfriends and me. The "what if" factor and the societal "shoulds" placed on women in their 30s and 40s is a constant point of conversation amongst us.

5. Who is the woman that inspires you most? Two of my very best friends each started down an artistic career path--one, an incredibly successful opera singer, the other, just on the cusp of breaking the glass ceiling as an actor. Then they did the very difficult thing of having a conversation with themselves about fulfillment and happiness and shifted completely. One is now a lawyer, the other a nurse. To go back to school later in life, possibly disappoint your family, friends or yourself, is terrifying and extremely brave.  One of my tattoos is a motto that both of them have embodied. It's from the Teddy Roosevelt "The Man in the Arena" speech: "If he fails, at least fails while daring greatly." I am so blessed to have living examples of this in my life.

6. What should audiences know before seeing Rapture, Blister, Burn? This isn't just a play about women or exclusively for women.  Open your eyes, ears and hearts to the human experience that unfolds and you'll be surprised to find facets of yourself throughout.

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