Lea Coco and Erika LaVonn in rehearsal for Sheepdog.
The story of two people—Amina and Ryan—in Kevin Artigue’s Sheepdog (April 14-May 5, Julianne Argyros Stage) is complex and mysterious. Actually, a mystery within a love story because, in addition to being police officers, Amina and Ryan are lovers. Until something happens that rocks their relationship to the core. We caught up with the cast of Sheepdog to learn more about this new drama.
At SCR: This is my debut.
My other credits include Blue Man Group, The Public Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Utah Shakespeare Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, J. Edgar, Sinister 2, “Queen Sugar,” and The Sweetest Christmas (Hallmark Channel).
I’m drawn to Sheepdog because I love plays about discovery. I am particularly attracted to projects where characters are on a journey that takes place at the edge of their understanding. I love plays about discovery. Amina and Ryan both relentlessly ask, “Who am I?”; and we see them earnestly trying to answer that question in real time. It's ironic that our story is presented as a “memory” play because the discoveries are so immediate. I love plays that are distinctly rooted in difficult American values. Kevin [Artigue] has a unique, authentic and essential perspective of where the “rubber meets the road.”
My character, Ryan, is a guileless and idealistic cop whose values are put to the test in his professional and personal life. He finds himself at a crossroads when his sense of justice comes in conflict with his sense of self. More importantly for the story we are trying to tell, Ryan is motivated by a desire to be the kind of man that Amina can love and respect. He is most relatable in his yearning to prove himself as a worthy father. He is honorable, forthright, a bit naïve, haunted, loving and kind. He is both qualified and unprepared for the challenge that he faces.
My favorite donut is, well, I can't talk about donuts without talking about a specific place called District in New Orleans. Come for the food and music...stay for the doughnuts at District. My personal favorite is their take on a chocolate eclair.
At SCR: I’m making my debut here.
My other credits include Broadway production of The Lion King, My Lord, “Law & Order: SVU,” War of the Worlds, The Christians, What I Learned in Paris and The Mountaintop.
I’m drawn to Sheepdog because it's a new work. It's also a new voice that touches on a very timely subject, a subject that is necessary to look at from different angles. One of the lines in the play is “we see what we want to see.” With the current atmosphere not only in America but in the world, I think it's really important to put fresh eyes on why we choose to see what we see. I really respect that [playwright] Kevin Artigue has done that, and that he challenges us to look at ourselves at the same time.
My character, Amina, is a 13-year veteran of the Cleveland Police Department in a district that has been hit hard on many fronts—especially socially and economically. It's considered a dangerous part of Cleveland but is, and always has been, her home. She's there because she loves it and she wants to be a part of making it better. It's a story that follows a path in life when head, heart and home collide.
My favorite donut is something from childhood. I grew up in an area where a bakery was on my way home from school. My path intersected with buttery, sweet, nutty aromas wafting in the air that would lure me like a mouse to the Pied Piper. Often, if the baker spotted me with my nose mashed to the window, they would offer up a sugar or black and white cookie the size of my head—I think just to see me smile. Don't you know that set me up for My Love of All Things Baked?! If I haaad to choose, I’d say that I'm a fan of the mash-up. With thoughts of sweet and buttery swirling in my head, the Cronut has to be my go-to because it's all things good. Light, flaky croissant inside, the best of crispy, fried donut outside and the tiniest drizzle of sweet glaze and cinnamon sugar sprinkled about. Nom, nom, sigh... Now, off to find one!
And while you won’t SEE them in the play, you’ll HEAR these voice actors.
ROLES: Female voices
At SCR: A Christmas Carol (2018), Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience, Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, Ivy + Bean: The Musical, Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells Batman Smells.
Her other credits include Dr. Zhivago (Broadway), Here Lies Love (off-Broadway), Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music, Golden Child, Boy, The Patients, A Mother’s Great Fear, “The Kominsky Method,” “NCIS: LA”, “Gotham” and “Modern Family.”
ROLES: Male voices
At SCR: Culture Clash in AmeriCCa (2008), Culture Clash (Still) in America (2019).
His other credits include With Culture Clash, has written more than a dozen plays and performed more than 5,000 nationwide. Currently touring a solo show, 57 Chevy, and in the fall, Bad Hombres, Good Wives (San Diego Repertory Theatre).
Learn more about Sheepdog and buy tickets.