Interview with Didi Conn by Corine Cohen

Where were you born?

Didi Conn: Brooklyn New York.

When did you realize your passion for acting?

I was always dancing around the house - entertaining my relatives with my interpretive dancing. A big favorite was dancing to Harry Belafonte's "Woman is Smarter!" I had a terrific teacher in the fourth grade, Mrs. Rothstein. Instead of assigning us to write book reports she gave us the option of expressing how we felt about the book we read in any manner we liked. So, I turned the "Adventures of Pippi Longstocking" into a full length play starring ME! My teacher was so impressed I had to perform it for all the classrooms in the school. I was launched.

Where did you go to school?

I went to Midwood High School in Brooklyn and then to Brooklyn college for 1 1/2 years. I was chomping at the bit to get my career started- so after I took all the theater courses at Brooklyn College I enrolled in a two year program at AMDA in the city ( The American Musical Dramatic Academy) I was there for 6 months and loved it. My teachers encouraged me to audition for some professional work during our summer vacation. I landed my first job. It was for the National Theatre Company's Mimika Pantomime troupe. I ended up touring with them for the next two years.

How did you get the role in Grease? It is a classic! I have seen it hundreds of times!

I auditioned for GREASE along with 2000 other hopefuls! My agent told me to go to Paramount and dress in 1950's clothes. So I went to Western costumes and rented tight stretch pants and a pink sweater set with matching pink scarf and then I went to get my hair styled. I drove down a street I had never driven down before and I could believe my eyes- there was FRENCHY'S salon! I went in and there was Frenchy- with a big beautiful hairdo. I asked her if she could make my hair look like hers. I didn't tell her I was auditioning for a part of an aspiring beautician. I wanted to hear all about how she got into the business. It was so interesting and when I left I had not only a great hairdo ( I think she used at least two bottles of hairspray!) I also had a terrific backstory to base my character on!

What was it like to be in such a wonderful film?

Everyone asks me if we knew when we were filming the movie if we knew it was going to become a classic. Believe me, if I knew, I would have asked for points!

How is Married life to David Shire?

"David Shire and I have been happily married for 21 years! We have a 12 year old son. David is a genius. He writes the most magnificent music and he is a devoted and loving husband. and father- I am so blessed!

Tell me about "Souls of Naples" Tell me about your character.

"I love working in the theater. I love this play and John Turturro and our talented cast and director Roman Paska and Theatre for a New Audience led by the brilliant Jeffrey Horowitz. " I play Carmela, the doorman's sister. My character is described as a "damned soul". I see her as someone who has suffered a great shock and has become slightly deranged because of it. The main theme of the play is about who and what are the "ghosts" in our life. Also, a very moving theme is our inability to say what we feel to the people we love and when we finally find the courage to speak from the heart we are rewarded with a miracle.

Souls of Naples is playing at the Duke Theatre on 42nd Street.

Corine Dana Cohen, Associate Producer of the Drama Desk Awards, works as a freelance writer.

Photos of Didi Conn

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