As Warren Usey strides through the door onto the Granite Theater stage for the Saturday night production show of Bell, Book, and Candle –one can sense he is totally in his element. This is where he belongs heart and soul on stage performing and loving it. Even though it is Warren’s debut theater performance at the Granite since moving here from New Orleans over three years ago, he is quite familiar and at home on the stage.
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“I’m excited, people have never seen me act here,” says Warren. “This is a first for me in this character-I stir the [witches] cauldron and see what happens.”
He plays Nicky Holroyd, a warlock, who is a trickster who loves the art of the trick and even playing a few of them on his family cast members. His beautiful Russian Blue cat named Clemmie is also making her debut on stage in the part of Pyewacket, playing a cat who helps in casting spells. This is a really different character role than Warren has played in his New Orleans theatrical past, he explains he did a lot of “fringe” or smaller shows, with plays and productions that took place in the environment not on a mainstream stage. He recalls doing one called Feeding the Moonfish, where he helped build a deck near a pool in the ninth ward in New Orleans and being hands on with not only acting but building sets.
“I like doing things no else is doing, where you wouldn’t think to do theater,” says Warren. And for someone who never thought he would do family or children’s theater he does it quite well and very naturally. He also will appear in the Granite Theater’s musical production of Annie, which wraps up this seasons productions at the Granite, playing a few characters one of which is Mr. Hull, Assistant Dog Catcher. “I have not done a musical in 10 years,” says Warren. “This is something my niece and nephew could see, its iconic.”
For someone who just stumbled into a drama class in high school, quite literally, as he walked into the gym with a mix up in his class schedule, Warren, now 34, seems to have found his niche. From being an artistic director for a local New Orleans based theater company to playing a mute, mild manner introverts, and crazy people, Warren is very versatile in his roles.
“Acting is very therapeutic, and like a challenge, if a project scares me I have to do it.” After high school he kept on with the drama class and went on to study theater at the University of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit and his theater pursuits were put on hold to flee the state with his family. His path blew him to the character rich community of Westerly and he has found a new home here on stage.
“I will be at the Granite as long as they want me.”
For teenage actress Bobbie Doherty, it was the movie The Sound of Music that captured her attention and inspired her to want to act and eventually get the part of Gretel in her community theater program when she was only five.
“It was the only movie I ever watched. It really inspired me fun to play a character I had seen on the screen.”
From then on she was hooked and got involved in school and local community theater in Connecticut, where she lived. No stranger to the Granite Theater as she played her idol Gretel in years past as well as the role of the little boy Jerome in South Pacific, Bobbie is one of two young actresses who will play the lead of Annie in the musical Annie which opens November 23 at The Granite Theater and runs right up till Christmas. At 13, Bobbie has done 17 plays and musicals at this point in her acting career for both community and professional theater. “I think my favorite part is just being with the cast that I got to know,” says Bobbie. “And than playing all different people with them is really fun.”
And the apple did indeed fall off the tree in the Doherty family but stayed pretty close by as her dad Jim is in Annie as well playing Bert Healy, the crazy guy who sings “your never fully dressed without a smile.” Bobbie also played along side her dad and mom in the past in South Pacific. She also shared the stage with her dad in the play To Kill a Mockingbird in Thompson, CT in the role of Scout and her dad was the antagonist who chased her around the stage.
“I am inspired by Bobbie and I jumped back into it,” says Jim. “We are very excited, it’s a passion she has and she is very good at it, and as long as she loves it we are behind it all the way.”
With rehearsals as much as five times a week for over two hours each night, Bobbie is committed to giving the role of Annie all she has and because its such a demanding voice role she will do 10 of the 19 shows sharing the lead with her friend Scarlett. To help her prepare for this role and more future acting roles she takes private voice lessons and chorus in school.
She recently had a once in a lifetime experience trying out for the Broadway musical Frozen in New York City. She auditioned for the parts of Elsa and Anna when they were looking for replacement actors. She kept getting call backs and she was in the lineup to the top five girls but unfortunately was not picked, she seems to think because of her older age in that role of Elsa she would need to be replaced sooner due to her maturity. If picked the family would have had to sign a contract and move their life to New York to be there during production and performances.
“It was really fun, I really enjoyed the experience,” says Bobbie. “Maybe I do want to be an actress—I got to meet a cast member of a Broadway show and she asked me if I want to do this and I said yes I want to do this.”