Margot White was living every theater major’s dream in the fall of 2007, acting on Broadway in The Farnsworth Invention, a play written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin.
“It was my dream since I was five to be on Broadway,” said White, who played “about eight roles altogether.” Her first Broadway show, which closed in March, was “everything I could have hoped for and more—except a longer run.”
White acted in many URI Theatre productions as an undergraduate. After graduating, she spent a year acting in Rhode Island. In 1995, she moved to New York to study with the New York Shakespeare Festival. Soon, she was working in regional productions including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet, and The Shape of Things.
“Now I’m more interested in sticking closer to home,” she said, noting that she and her husband, Paul Johansen, have bought a country house north of the city in addition to the apartment in Manhattan they share with their dog, Ruby.
URI professors Judith Swift, Kimber Wheelock, and Paula McGlasson all helped White assemble “a full toolbox” of acting skills. One lesson in which movement teacher Anne Scurria (of Trinity Rep) told White to “move across the floor like a river of hot fudge” in an effort to loosen up, popped into White’s head years later during a pivotal time in her career.
After a disappointing audition for playwright Horton Foote, White was walking back to her apartment when “this light bulb went off in my head.” She went back, did the audition again, and got the role. Foote later offered her the lead role in another play, The Traveling Lady. An agent saw the play and loved her performance: “That’s how I got my representation. It was a really serendipitous experience.”
You never know where a river of hot fudge will take you. It took Margot White all the way from Kingston to Broadway.
—David Gregorio ’80