Nicole Marie Green loves to make people laugh. But with her latest show, the actress hopes to give you goosebumps.
The New York native stars in Spinning Tree Theatre’s “The Turn of the Screw,” an adaptation of the classic ghost story by Henry James. Green plays a governess who arrives at a lonely English manor to care for two young children, only to realize they are not alone.
The gothic thriller features only two actors — Green and veteran Kansas City-based actor Charles Fugate — in an intimate, abstract setting.
Although she thrives on physical comedy, Green is making waves in Kansas City with her dramatic roles. Since graduating with her master of fine arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in May, she has starred in “Tribes” at the Unicorn, and in January she will play Margot Frank in “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the KC Rep.
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“The Turn of the Screw,” performed at Just Off Broadway Theatre, is playing until Nov. 1. For ticket information and dates, visit spinningtreetheatre.com.
“A lot of times in theater, women don’t have the opportunity to stretch their acting muscles. They’re either playing the wife or girlfriend,” Green said. “To have a classically based piece, such as ‘The Turn of the Screw,’ challenging the norm by focusing on a female’s perspective is powerful.”
Kansas City love
Green says she was going to head back to New York after graduate school, but her intuition told her to stay.
“I literally dropped everything to attend UMKC,” she said. “I had never been to the Midwest before, and I was expecting cowboys everywhere. But the theater scene here is evolving so quickly, and Kansas City embraces new actors with open arms, which is really cool.”
Strike a pose
To pay the bills, Green holds down what she calls “survival jobs.” She teaches children’s acting classes. She’s a nanny for a 5-month-old baby. And once she even danced around Central Park in a giant monkey suit.
Her favorite survival job, however, is teaching hot yoga once a week. The classes take place under heated conditions.
“It gives me the time to breathe and feel refreshed and renewed for the day,” she said. “I’m able to sweat out my anxiety. To prepare for a role as an actor, you need to be able to get out of your own way.”
Green may be a serious actress, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She carries a red clown nose in her purse at all times, as well as a sparkly purple and pink clown suit in the trunk of her car for “just in case” moments.
“I’ll wear the red nose in a bar just to lighten the mood,” she said with a grin. “Laughter is universal, and it’s joyful, and it’s a release. I grew up watching ‘I Love Lucy.’ That kind of comedy is what I live for.”
“I want to make a living with my art one day, but in this business you can’t plan your future,” she said. “You have to trust the universe.”