“I am sad!” Liza Colón-Zayas sang from the bedroom of her Bronx home as she honked on the phone one Friday afternoon. “This is the only time of the day when it’s noisy!”
He walked towards the window. “Shut up!” he shouted and hung up. “I’ve never seen parents as crazy as when they took their kids from the nursery across the street.”
The actress, who won hearts last summer for her role as hardcore cook Tina on the FX series “The Bear,” is going through her own frenzy this fall when she starred in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning black comedy “Between Riverside and Between Riverside.” “Crazy”, which focuses on a retired police officer, his extended family, and friends who are threatened with eviction. When the play opens at the Hayes Theater on the Second Stage on December 19, it will be Colón-Zayas’ Broadway debut, but after 2014 productions at the Atlantic Theater Company and the Second Stage’s Off Broadway theater in Church She is playing the role of Lady for the third time. 2015.
This time, he said, “I’m a different person, it’s a different world. I have to dig this character again.”
If you’ve seen “Church Lady” and dreamed of a saintly little woman, think again – The New York Times critic Ben Brantley wrote that the play’s second act features an unforgettable scene between Colón-Zayas and Stephen McKinley Henderson . – no spoilers, just look for the communion wafer – “may be the sexiest scene on the New York stage this summer.”
“These characters are extremely flawed – no one is a saint,” said Colón-Zayas. “So dark, so funny and original.”
It’s the same realism about Tina in “The Bear” that she finds appealing.
“I have a lot of similar traits in terms of survival in this industry,” said Colón-Zayas. “I did not leave the conservatory. I don’t look like a lead actor. And yet I am here. (Another similarity is that both she and Tina are “bad mouthed”.)
Colón-Zayas is married to fellow actor David Zayas, who this month completed the role of Eddie in the Broadway production of “Cost of Living.” He talked about the TV shows they watched together, how his 84-year-old mother was spending her day, where to find the best cheesesteak in New York, and other needs. These are edited excerpts from the speech.
1. Hugs Covid destroyed me. This elbow-stroke salute was well-intentioned, but mostly it felt like an embarrassing, jerky display of swaying arms. I’m so glad we can hug now.
2. Stephen Adly Guirgis He is my favorite playwright alive. We go back a long way and he wrote many roles for me. As a born New Yorker, he has an ear for the streets like no one else. The rhythm and the comedy layer in his plays sweeten the pain.
3. Mom’s Greeting Cards Mami always remembers to celebrate all her loved ones’ birthdays and anniversaries. He’ll write these sweet personal messages on each of them and use up all the space, then an arrow on the back to indicate there’s more writing. She’s always been my cheerleader, she. She is 84 years old and has been through many struggles in this life, she has all kinds of chronic diseases, but she just radiates positivity.
4. House Being an actor means going deep and giving everything to the audience, so home is a place to recharge. Give me my couch, my remote, my delivery app and I’m happy where I am. There’s a small Italian restaurant near us called Bella Notte and they make the best cheesesteak sandwich ever. Yes, I said that! Sorry Philadelphia.
5. Live Shows With My Husband I love watching shows with David because he makes such funny comments. Some of our recent entertainment are “Succession”, “What We Do in the Shadows”, “Abbott Elementary”, “Hacks” and of course “The Bear”. “Hacks” is brilliantly funny and offbeat, and “Abbott Elementary” has that fake documentary vibe, but it represents people who work in schools and look like me. And of course I love “Bear” – I wasn’t shocked, but I was a little over impressed with how well the pilot turned out.
6. “Atlas of the Heart” by Brené Brown My friend, actress Elizabeth Rodriguez is always on the lookout for the latest self-help books, articles, and podcasts. When you raved about it, I decided to check it out. Mind-blowing. Brown examines a long list of human emotions and triggers and helps the reader understand the subtle differences in order to properly name, confront, and address them. Just a few days ago I was feeling anxious and it immediately put me on the ground and made me realize my anxiety or impostor syndrome. I feel like I should play this on a loop every three months.
7. Labyrinth Theater Company Formerly the Latino Actors Base, this community theater has been my artistic support system since 1992. Our Ragtag company celebrates its 30th anniversary this fall. I made lifelong friendships, met my husband and got the best education there. They’ve helped embrace who I am rather than erasing the things that make me me. It makes my head spin to finally have face-to-face conversations with them.
8. Board Games I love when I can get together and play board games with my adult children and grandchildren. Nonsense is welcome and showing off is encouraged. My grandson has just turned 9 and he loves the Uno. We also play Parcheesi and my 13 year old grandson loves Monopoly and chess. He’s great – he beats my husband and my husband won’t let him win.
9. Ocean My friends laugh when I say I’m not a nature fan – I hate mud, sweat and creatures; life is too short to be bothered – but I love the ocean. Swimming in the sea is the only way I can be fully present. Just hearing my breath and letting my body lift as I stare at the sky – I feel more relaxed already.
10. Soundtracks My father used to blast movie soundtracks like “The Ten Commandments” into giant reel-to-reel and pretend to conduct an orchestra. I fell in love with that magnificent music and I still listen to it. Sometimes even walking down a noisy, nasty, dirty street, I can perceive the world with a little more attention and less judgment if I’m listening to a big, melodramatic soundtrack.