Theater / Film
In-demand actress, Lindsey Corey, takes on solo role for Actors’ Playhouse’s ‘Defending the Cavewoman’
Lindsey Corey is a comedic everywoman in the Actors’ Playhouse premiere of the one-woman show “Defending the Cavewoman” opening Friday, July 21 and running through Sunday, Aug. 6. (Photo courtesy of Alberto Romeu)
When Lindsey Corey graduated from Miami’s New World School of the Arts with a musical theater degree in 2008, she thought she would pursue a classic actor’s dream: go to New York and try to forge a career in the Big Apple.
But fate, in the form of small decisions and growing opportunities, had other ideas. Encouraged by director Stuart Meltzer, one of her New World teachers who was the artistic director of City Theatre at the time, the actor then known as Lindsey Forgey got her first professional gig in the 2008 edition of City’s popular Summer Shorts.
As Meltzer puts it, “The job opened up a different perspective and opportunity for her” in a kind of theatrical boot camp where she worked alongside seasoned professionals and got to create multiple characters in an evening of short plays.
Says Corey, “I ended up staying because I saw it was possible to create a life here.”
Has she ever.
Today, 44 shows later (54 if you count repeats, like the half-dozen times she appeared in “Rock Odyssey” at Miami’s Arsht Center), the Carbonell Award-winning Corey is among the most in-demand actors throughout South Florida.
Now she’s taking on a fresh challenge, the Actors’ Playhouse United States premiere of South African playwright Emma Peirson’s 2001 solo show “Defending the Cavewoman.” The play was devised by Peirson and Vanessa Frost, then written by Peirson in response to Rob Becker’s wildly successful one-man show “Defending the Caveman.” Becker’s show ran on Broadway from 1995 to 1997 and made tour stops all over the United States, including South Florida.
Previewing Wednesday and Thursday, July 19 and 20, opening Friday, July 21 and running through Sunday, Aug. 6 in the upstairs Balcony Theatre at Coral Gables’ Miracle Theatre, “Defending the Cavewoman” is a truth-laced comedy about how very different women, men and their foibles can be. It is Corey’s first professional one-woman show, though she wrote and performed a shorter student piece 15 years ago as a New World graduation requirement.
The production will be the 10th in which Corey has worked with David Arisco, artistic director of Actors’ Playhouse for nearly all of the company’s 35-season history.
In the summer, Arisco generally favors lighter, funny or musical fare. He was working on the Actors’ production of “Hank Williams: Lost Highway” a year ago when his longtime friend, Seth Greenleaf of GFour Productions, brought the “Cavewoman” script to him. Arisco said yes – and thought of Corey, who was then playing the country legend’s ferociously ambitious but less-than-talented wife Audrey in “Hank Williams.”
“This was handed to me. I got lucky,” says Arisco, who has been working with Greenleaf on tweaking and shaping the script for an American audience (Greenleaf gets Peirson’s permission for any changes). “This is definitely different. We have taken what was kind of a standup act and given it a theatrical structure.”
Arisco chose Corey, he says, because “she’s a pretty exceptional talent. She’s capable of playing just about anything.”
Corey has been committed to “Defending the Cavewoman” since last summer. She plays more than 15 characters, though most often she’s speaking as a woman named Evelyn or her husband Chris on the day after the couple’s crisis-filled 10th anniversary.
Actors Laura Turnbull, Kareema Khouri and Carlos Alayeto have recorded the voices of several other characters, but Corey is well aware she’ll be the only artist literally in the spotlight.
In a one-person show, she says, “Once the train has left the station, you are the train.”
Corey knows that her challenges in “Defending the Cavewoman” will include physical, mental and emotional stamina. Fitness and healthy eating have been part of her professional strategy since before the pandemic because, she says, “being conscious of what I’m putting in my body is reflected in my instrument.”
For “Defending the Cavewoman,” she has to remember a huge number of lines in a piece that has changed from two acts to an 80-minute show with no intermission.
“It is a very wordy script. It’s big,” Corey observes. “Dave (Arisco) and I have a shorthand . . . I came to the first day of rehearsals having memorized as much as I could, and we blocked the first quarter of the script.”
As prepared as Arisco is from the get-go, Corey says he’s open to collaborative input (“he gives you the freedom to bring whatever you’ve got”). The two have had workable sound cues throughout rehearsals thanks to Corey’s husband, Matt, an eight-time Carbonell Award winner. Says Arisco, “This requires a sound designer who can make a real soundscape.”
He says that much depends upon the leading lady and only live performer in the premiere: “A lot of this is more about guiding a really good actor.”
Over the decade and a half since her days at New World, Corey’s professional resume has taken off like a bullet train.
In the upcoming 2023-2024 season, for example, she has been cast in the pre-Broadway tryout of the Louis Armstrong bio musical “A Wonderful World” (the show had its world premiere in late 2021 at Miami New Drama after shutting down during previews in 2020 due to the pandemic). The new production plays the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans Oct. 1-8, then heads to Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre Oct. 11-29, and Corey is again cast as Rachel the Reporter/Ensemble, as she was at Miami New Drama.
Corey will also appear in “A Christmas Carol” in November-December at the Maltz Jupiter Theater in Palm Beach County, where she earned raves as the tragic Nancy in “Oliver!” this past March.
In the new year, she’ll head to Palm Beach Dramaworks to appear in the February world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown’s “The Cancellation of Lauren Fein.” And in March-April 2024, she’ll star as Sally Bowles in Zoetic Stage’s immersive production of “Cabaret,” with Meltzer directing.
In 2015, Corey got a breakout part when she originated the role of Masha, an exotic dancer from Belarus fighting for custody of her little girl, in the Zoetic Stage world premiere of Demos-Brown’s “Stripped.” Her performance won her the best actress in a play Carbonell Award. Corey says Masha is her favorite role so far. Not that it was easy: In addition to the play’s dramatic demands, the part required her to master pole dancing and learn the character’s Russian dialect.
Demos-Brown counts himself among the South Florida-based theater artists who believes Corey is headed for a stellar future.
“I didn’t write the role of Masha for anyone in particular. But Stuart [Meltzer] immediately saw Lindsey in the role and, of course, once we got into rehearsals, I couldn’t picture anyone else doing it,” Demos-Brown notes. “…There are two actors for whom I try to create a role every time I write a play. Lindsey’s one of them. She’s one of a kind. A combination of Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep. She’s that talented, that smart, that charming, that funny, that wonderful to work with. She’s a break or two from being a huge star.”
This moment is one Corey, 37, has been working toward for most of her life. Raised in smalltown Harrison, Tenn., 20 miles outside Chattanooga, she started singing karaoke in bars when she was only five or so.
“My mom never had a drink in her life, but she knew I wasn’t afraid to get up and sing in front of people,” says Corey of her early start in showbiz.
“Her friend mentioned there was a magnet arts high school in Chattanooga, and I went there . . . I got into New World, and after graduating met (actor) Laura Turnbull doing Summer Shorts. Then her husband Avi Hoffman cast me in ‘Enter Laughing’ at the New Vista Theatre in Boca Raton. So moving to New York got farther away.”
Corey has created the life she envisioned in South Florida, both professionally and personally.
She met her husband when she was dating someone else, as was he, so for the first few years of their relationship they were theater friends and colleagues at Fort Lauderdale’s Insight for the Blind, where she still works as a digital magazine producer.
Matt Corey, whose father is actor and radio personality Dave Corey, is an accomplished creative force to be reckoned with. He’s president and CEO of Insight for the Blind, which supplies recordings of books and magazines to the Library of Congress, visually impaired clients and other libraries; a University of Miami-trained composer and bassoonist; and one of South Florida theater’s most in-demand sound designers.
The decade-long marriage in “Defending the Cavewoman” is meant to make us laugh as it highlights differences between men (hunters going all the way back to caveman days) and women (forever gatherers). Evelyn and Chris love each other but come off as comedic combatants. She complains about his snoring, flatulence, the necessity of re-cleaning after he has “cleaned,” sending him to the grocery store with a detailed and descriptive list only to discover he left his wallet at home. He complains that “someone” is always moving his things, and he asks her where the cheese he’s seeking is located in the fridge since he didn’t spot it first thing when he opened the door.
The Coreys, on the other hand, have now been married for nine happy years.
“I love that man, I love that I can collaborate with him in life and artistically,” says Corey. “We talk about the show at home; we’re each other’s support system. It’s a lot for me and a big sound show for him. Even though he’s done more than 100 shows at GableStage, this is his first time working at Actors’ Playhouse because mostly they do big musicals. But Matt wants to stretch himself.”
He’s also supportive of Corey’s upcoming out-of-town runs in “A Wonderful World,” and he’s planning to see the show in both tryout cities.
Arisco observes that Corey “loves South Florida and loves working here. She’s a lovely person who has her world together, which allows her to dig deep and feel confident.”
As glimmering as Corey’s future looks right now, it also contains unknowns. Will “A Wonderful World” move to Broadway, and if so, when? How might that affect her other commitments? If New York beckons with other opportunities, will she stay or go?
“It’s not lost on me what I have here,” Corey says of her longtime home base – her own wonderful world.
WHAT: “Defending the Cavewoman” by Emma Peirson
WHERE: Actors Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre’s Balcony Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables
WHEN: Previews 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, July 19 and 20, opens 8 p.m. Friday, July 21; regular performances 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through Aug. 6
COST: $40 to $125 (seniors 65 and over get 10 percent off weekdays only; students with valid student ID pay $15 for a rush ticket available 15 minutes before a weekday performance)
INFO: 305-444-9293 or actorsplayhouse.org