Shining Star: Jessica Bedford talks about METEOR SHOWER at the Walnut

Jessica Bedford is shining brightly in Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower. Bedford is starring as Laura in Walnut Street Theatre’s latest comedy. The show takes an unexpected and hilarious look at marriage between two couples, who get together to watch a meteor shower. Bedford, who is no stranger to the WST stage, talks about what it takes to be a team player in a comedy.

Playing now through October 27 at Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio on 3. walnutstreettheatre.org {825 Walnut St}

Walnut Street Theatre Meteor Shower review image

Jessica Bedford, Greg Wood, Susan Riley Stevens, and Jake Blouch in METEOR SHOWER. Photo by Mark Garvin

Debra Danese: What would we find you doing 30 minutes prior to the show?

Jessica Bedford: Thirty minutes prior to the show, you will already find me at the theatre.  The character I play, Laura, is a very different kind of woman than I am. She’s very image conscious, while leggings and garden clogs tend to be my natural state. I arrive an hour and a half before curtain so I have time to get into her battle gear – false eyelashes, painted nails, blonde wig, etc – without feeling hurried. And I like to listen to a little music to get me more into her headspace.

DD: How would you describe your character and her relationship with her husband?

jessicaJB: Gerald and Laura’s relationship is explosive, and that is just how they like it. They’re energized by power and competition. They kick “keeping up with the Joneses” to a whole new level. They also seem to get a charge off of competing against each other.  

DD: With so many comedic moments in the show, how difficult is it not to break character?

JB: I think we spent the entire first week of rehearsal laughing so, fortunately, we had time to work the giggles out of our systems. But, of course, it’s live theater so something new happens every night and it’s only natural to be caught off guard by some of it. The trick is just to stay in your character, though that can be easier said than done.  

DD: If you had to change roles with another character in the show, who would you choose and why?

JB: Greg Wood, who plays Norm, has a pretty amazing reveal about three-fourths of the way through the show. Forgive me for being vague – I don’t want to spoil anything here. Just trust me when I say, it’s really, really cool. I wouldn’t mind playing Norm for a night to experience how an audience reacts to that reveal firsthand.  

DD: You are also part of the Walnut’s theater school faculty. What are some of the most important teachings you want your students to take away with them?

JB: I’d want my students to understand that comedy-well, all theater really- is a team sport. Comedy is a highly choreographed dance, but one done with words. It’s a very understandable temptation to want to be the funny one with all the punchlines but not every character is the “clown.” Someone has to be the straight man. And when we earn a laugh- because, trust me, laughs are earned- everyone onstage plays a part in that. There’s a really precise moment in the show where I have the line that resets us from the previous punchline, and then Jake has the next line which is a set up, and Susie tops that with the punchline. It’s such a satisfying moment because, though the laugh comes off of Susie’s words, we all earn it together. 

DD: Lastly, have you ever seen a meteor shower?

JB: I have not!  But I have seen a shooting star; a meteoroid. I was at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, watching Richard III performed outdoors. When Buckingham delivered his soul-searching soliloquy, a star streaked right over the actor’s head, across the lake. It was the most impressive special effects I’ve ever seen.  

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About the author

Debra Danese

Debra graduated with a degree in dance from the University of the Arts and also holds a B.A. in Arts Administration. She is accredited at the Master Level with the National Registry of Dance Educators. Debra has performed in Europe, Tokyo, Canada, and the Caribbean. She teaches and choreographs world-wide and has been an international guest artist in Switzerland, England, and Slovakia. Debra has been an Artist in Residence on five occasions in Norway where she showcased full length dance productions at the acclaimed Nordland Theatre. She has also presented an original dance production at the Elspe Festival in Germany. Debra has been featured in Dance, Dancer and Dance Teacher Magazines for her work in dance education. Additionally, she has been a contributing writer for Dance Studio Life Magazine since 2010.