Annie Enneking is a long-time presence in Twin Cities theatre and music scenes, where she acts, sings and choreographs fights and violence for productions. LULLABY is a brand-new show brought to life at Theater Latte Da that features all-original, alternative rock music. In it, Enneking plays Thea, the strong-willed, local, has-been, celebrity rocker turned bar owner who discovers the true meaning of friendship while reconciling haunted pasts with co-star Adelin Phelps' character Cassie.
LULLABY also is the first world premiere in Theater Latté Da's major new work initiative, NEXT 20/20, a five-year endeavor aimed at developing 20 new musicals or plays-with-music and shepherding many of them to full production.
Enneking graciously took time from her busy calendar to share more about both the show and herself in this 6 Questions & a Plug:
Let's start with the story - tell me more about the plot of LULLABY.
Enneking: LULLABY is a romantic-comedy-musical with tragic underpinnings. It's about a friendship between two women who are managing different kinds of grief, one of whom has moved back in with her dad. It's kind of about family in its many forms: who you're born to, who you choose, who chooses you, etc.
Who is Thea? Can you talk about your character development with this never-before explored character?
Thea is a kind of hard nut to crack, but once you get to her center she's loyal as all get out and will love you hard and protect you. She's a dedicated musician and songwriter who owns a dyke bar, and hosts an open mike night so the voices of the young LGBT folks in her community can be heard. She has a lot of compassion, but is a tough love kind of person: she is very much from Boston in that way. Kind of rough and tumble, but heart of gold.
Your character Thea is a musician and you are, as well. Can you talk about developing this new play and themusic -- it's all original/new -- what has that been like for you?
I love working with music. It's been great to learn new songs and chord-types I'm not familiar with. I love how the songs support an element of one plot line in the play we don't see, but hear about and then really access through the music.
What is it like developing a new piece like this one? Has it changed a lot since you began rehearsals?
The piece has shifted quite a bit over time, as I understand it. I know there were a few workshops of the piece getting it to where it is now. I couldn't participate in the most recent workshop of it because I had broken my jaw and it was wired shut. It has changed some in the course of the rehearsal process. There's been some streamlining, and some structural stuff has been addressed, as well as trimming in terms of character development in relationship to the length of the play. Like, do we really need the character to say that? Have we heard that in some form in a different place in the piece? It's fun to be in a room with really smart people who are trying to wrestle a play into form.
James Eckhouse ("the dad from 90210") joins you on stage in this production, which may be a new element for Theater Latte Da. Does having a "celebrity" actor in the show change or enhance the production for you as a local actor, and do you expect he'll draw people to the show that may not have come otherwise?
Though I recognized James right away, I didn't know why, because I didn't watch much TV in that era. The thing about James is that he would enhance any production he's in because he (like Adelin Phelps and David Darrow) is a phenomenal actor. Any theater would be lucky to have him, celebrity or no.
Tell me a little about your background and what shows we've seen you in before, as well as about your training.
I've been part of the Twin Cities performing community for about 35 years. I originated a bunch of roles at The Children's Theatre when I was a child, including Pippi Longstocking and Mary Lennox (THE SECRET GARDEN); I played Alice in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, there, as well as other parts. I was then a dancer and toured and performed nationally with Danny Buraczeski's JAZZDANCE, and Shawn McConneloug and Her Orchestra. As an adult actor I've done a lot of work that I've found challenging and wonderful, including the title roles in MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN with Frank Theatre, HEDDA GABLER at The Southern Theatre, GOD SAVE GERTRUDE with Workhaus Collective, and played the fierce Lee Miller in BEHIND THE EYE at Park Square. I really enjoyed playing the nurse Annie in The Jungle's IN THE NEXT ROOM, because it gave me a chance to play someone who was really understated and who did not have a lot of social status and was not at all in contact with her strength. I'm usually called to play really strong women, women who know what they want and who go for it, so it was a real nice gift, getting to play her. As for my work in violence, I recently helped craft the attempted rape in EXTREMITIES with Dark and Stormy productions, as well as the fights for AN OCTAROON at Mixed Blood, HENRY IV with Ten Thousand Things, and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the Guthrie. I trained as an actor and a dancer for most of my life. My interest in stage combat is the marriage of those two passions, I would say. I'm also really proud of a music performance event I made with my collaborator friend Samantha Johns called WHAT I WANT NOW I WILL WANT LATER. It was a beautiful and violent meditation on the mythology of Sirens.
I always end with a plug for what's next: what will you be in in the coming year?
The thing I'm most excited about is that I'll be releasing two albums this year. One is with my band, Annie and the Bang Bang. I'm attracted to super heavy indie power pop, but also to a sort of grungy, mountain-blues kind of thing. I like the energy of rock, and I really get to experience that with my band. The other album, "Lyndale and 24th," is a mellow-groove love letter to the experience of being in your 20s in Minneapolis. I found myself writing songs about when I was a really free adventurous person who loved and made memories with other free adventurous people. Life, to me, is about having a body at a particular place and time. Where were we? What was on the record player? Which drugs were involved? How did the sun look near the end of the party? I've recently been filled with dread, this feeling I'm going to die soon, but it may just be that I'm having the lived experience of my life flashing before my eyes. I've been writing about true things, things from my life, and just making them rhyme. It sounds stupid when I put it that way, but it's really simple and beautiful and I can't wait to release the album. Best thing I've heard as a response to these songs was from a friend who said he was walking around Uptown and had a flash of a memory, but realized it wasn't from his life, it was from mine.
As an actor, I'll be working with Trista Baldwin and Jeremy Wilhelm on a new work about Gertrude Bell with Workhaus Collective called EYE OF THE LAMB. I will also be doing LASSO OF TRUTH with Carson Kreitzer and Leah Cooper as part of Walking Shadow's season. I'll be in Kira Obolenski's THE CHANGELINGS with Ten Thousand Things Theater, and will be developing work with Skewed Visions. Additionally, Samantha Johns and I will likely get up to some mischief. As crafter of violence I'm excited to be choreographing fights for Theatre Latte Da, The Jungle Theater, the University of Minnesota, and the Guthrie.
Performance Dates: Wednesday, Jan. 13 - Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016 Venue: Ritz Theater (345 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis) Tickets: $23- $37 Single tickets and season mini-subscriptions are on sale now at latteda.org or call 612-339-3003.