Last winter, UW-Madison and American Players Theatre alum Carrie Coon stunned audiences and critics in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre. She's set to do the same in 2012 - on Broadway.
The part of Honey, for which she was selected after three auditions, was "amazing and terrifying and highly coveted - all those things," says Coon, who lives in Chicago. "It's quite a privilege and honor." The production also features Tracy Letts, who won a Tony and a Pulitzer for August: Osage County, and Tony winner Amy Morton.
The Broadway run of Virginia Woolf, details of which are still pending, is slated to open on the 50th anniversary of the original production. "I've very rarely had the opportunity to revisit a role," says Coon. "I've undergone a lot of change in the last six months, and all of that will be part of who Honey becomes over the course of this year."
After the Chicago production ended, Woolf began a six-week run at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. The move afforded Coon a chance to perform the role in front of audiences with markedly different personalities. "For some reason, I feel as though the audiences in Chicago love to be uncomfortable," says Coon. "They just get a kick out of it. So they have a sort of raucous energy."
But in Washington, she says, "sometimes the first act was absolutely silent, no laughs, and we would think, 'Oh, we're terrible.' But they would leap to their feet at the end of the show; they were listening really hard."
After finishing an MFA at UW-Madison in 2006, Coon began a four-year stint at American Players Theatre, where she appeared in plays like Misalliance and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Today, opportunities are presenting themselves quickly and consistently for the actress. "I'm just getting into leading-lady territory," she says. "I'm about to play Annie in The Real Thing at the Writers' Theater in Glencoe, Ill." That production opens Sept. 13.
She's also found herself doing voiceover work - some here in Madison with a company she says "hired me for nothing as a grad student and allowed me to learn the ropes."
As much as her beauty and gorgeous voice, Coon's humility gives her an arresting presence. "Gratitude keeps you from getting bitter in this business. I've just been really lucky," she says. "I work hard, but the opportunities that have come my way have been unbelievable."