From the moment she comes knocking in The Cottage, Dana Steingold’s Deirdre is a total showstopper. Beau’s petite side chick has secrets and personality for days. She flits around the immaculately furnished cottage like a fairy, sprinkling her spunk and a bit of wildness all over. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Dana about her standout role in Jason Alexander’s Broadway directorial debut.
“I think what’s interesting about her entrance is that it’s a totally different energy than anyone else has brought,” Dana said. “It’s this birds chirping, the power of love, and just a total optimism. She enters the world with great optimism. She changed her life today, she left her husband, and she’s about to start what she thinks is a totally new life with her true love Beau. She certainly didn’t know the circumstances in which she was walking into.”
Everyone inside the cottage finds themselves interconnected in ways they never thought possible. Sylvia, who is married to Clarke, believes she’s the only other woman in Beau’s life. Beau is married to Marjorie, who’s been having a secret affair with Clarke, who also happens to be Beau’s brother. As it turns out, Beau’s also been seeing Deirdre, who is his little ball of sexual prowess. Dana addressed the freedom Deirdre embraces that Sylvia and Marjorie can’t seem to quite reach.
“I think what’s interesting about Deirdre is she has a sexual agency about her that the other women perhaps do not, and I’m not necessarily saying that it’s experience, but I think she doesn’t fit into the norms of society in the way that the other women do,” Dana said. “I think Beau is attracted to her because she’s very free in a way that the other women aren’t because they’re so strict in what society imposes upon them and the manners of that time.”
The actress continued, “She’s sort of arriving with her own agency because her youth is on her side in a way that perhaps isn’t for the other two who’ve already committed their lives to their husbands. Although she is leaving her husband, she also has taken many lovers because she has a freedom about her. When she sees something she likes, she just goes for it. That’s how she lives her life, which is also very much how she moves through the play. I think Beau offers her a stability that perhaps Richard hadn’t. Within that stability though, it’s also paired with a sexual lust that I think is not existent in her current marriage.”
Dana stars alongside a terrific ensemble, including Laura Bell Bundy, Eric McCormack, Alex Moffat, Lilli Cooper, and Nehal Joshi. “We’re having the best time, and I think there’s nothing scarier and nothing more exciting to me than doing a show where it’s just a small ensemble and everybody relies on each other,” Dana gushed. “It’s like you take this risk of this silent agreement that you’re going to go out and protect each other if something goes wrong.”
The characters in The Cottage all have varying versions of British accents. The actress revealed what’s really behind Deirdre’s accent. “We were all given different voice references. Her put-upon accent is based on Rose Leslie, who is a British actress. It’s very proper almost in a Princess Diana kind of way because she’s putting this version of herself for the world to fit into this household of what she sees as fancy women around her who she sort of wishes to be like,” Dana told HollywoodLife. “And then as you see here in Act II, and as she sort of falls apart and the more she drinks, she slips into who she really is.”
Dana previously starred in Broadway’s Beetlejuice musical, and she admitted plays and musicals take completely “different” energies. “Specifically, this show I think takes a bit more mental focus than sometimes a musical,” Dana said. “With a musical, even when you’re the star of the show, there’s usually built-in time where someone else is on stage and you are not. You’re at least off for five minutes while they sing a song, you have a second to sort of collect yourself, have some water, and take a break for a second. But in The Cottage, because everybody’s basically on stage the entire time once they enter and because of the pace of the show, if you drop out for one second it’s like you can’t get back in.”
The actress was initially intrigued by The Cottage because the comedy explores “very real themes about marriage and fidelity and how you define a happy marriage and how that might look different for everyone.” She added, “I’ve also just always kind of loved the genre of that Noël Coward world, and this sort of combined everything but with a feminist twist. I thought, if I can get in the room for this, I have to do it.” The Cottage is currently running at the Helen Hayes Theater through October 29.