Hometown: Irvington, New York
Currently: Co-starring as Patrick Breen’s sassy, wisecracking stage bestie Holly in the Tony-nominated drama Next Fall.
All in the Family: Corman’s extended family tree has branches all over show business: Her brother, Noah, grew up to be an exec at theater-centric Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records; husband Jace Alexander is a TV director; mother-in-law Jane Alexander is a Tony-winning actress; and father-in-law Ed Sherin is an Emmy-winning producer and director—which makes finding last-minute baby sitters for children Isabelle, 10, and twins Mac and Finn, six, a breeze. “Jane literally understands what I’m going through as [an actress balancing motherhood], so she’s very hands-on Nana. During opening week of Next Fall, she and my parents basically raised the kids!”
Early Start: Corman got her Equity card at age 13 as an understudy in the Public Theater’s Twelve Dreams, written and directed by James Lapine. Next, she appeared in John Guare’s Landscape of the Body at Second Stage opposite Christine Lahti and Christian Slater. “Having my Equity card so young meant I did more off-Broadway than high school plays,” Corman says with a laugh. Working with the industry’s all-stars made a lasting impression on the budding actress: “I learned that the best actors were extremely disciplined, but also had the most fun of anyone I knew, onstage and off. The marriage of those two worlds was incredibly appealing to me.” Though she ultimately chose an actor’s life, Corman made a detour to Barnard College to study English Literature. “I did it out of fear!” she explains. “I felt I needed a back-up plan, which was an education, and I have no regrets. Studying outside acting makes for a more interesting actor in the long run.”
Screen Queen: Despite strong stage roots, much of Corman’s resume is in TV and film. “I’m still recognized when I walk down the street, for John Hughes’ Some Kind of Wonderful, and I was 15 when we shot it!” The actress has fond memories of the legendary Hughes, who passed away in 2009. “I remember his very big hair and high-top sneakers. To be in high school working with him at the height of his fame intimidated me so much—but he was an incredible teacher and a truly sweet man.” A steady string of acting credits followed, including George C. Scott’s sitcom Mr. President, Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, her father-in-law’s Law & Order and cult flicks like PCU, Swingers and Beer League. “I’ve been very lucky,” the actress says of her screen work. “But I did miss live theater, which is what I had dreamed of doing as a girl.”
Last Summer, Next Fall: When casting began in the spring of 2009 for Geoffrey Nauffts’ Next Fall, a new drama about a gay couple struggling with religious issues, Corman was unavailable—she had told her agents theater was too demanding for a mom with a young family. Still, she read the play. “I loved the part of [best friend] Holly, who had so much heart,” she recalls. “And the play! I knew if I didn’t get the part I’d still see the show dozens of times.” The tipping point came when she met director Sheryl Kaller, also a mother with a young family. “Sheryl literally took me in her arms right there [at the audition] and said, ‘I’m a mom, and I’m here to make this work for you.’ I didn’t even know if I’d gotten the part yet!” Clearly, she did, opening in Naked Angels' off-Broadway debut production in June 2009 at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. “I figured it was a three-week run, and it would be done quickly,” Corman says with a laugh. “I was blessedly incorrect.”
Broadway and Beyond: After three extensions off-Broadway, Corman’s little show announced it would transfer to Broadway, opening March 11, 2010, at the Helen Hayes Theater. “I had made peace with the idea that if it hadn’t happened by a certain age, I was never going to get to Broadway,” she admits. “I never expected this debut to happen, which has made it so sweet.” Sweetening the experience even more has been what the actress describes as an outpouring of support for Next Fall, an ensemble play without a single marquee name. “Our producers [including celeb backers Elton John and David Furnish] put six non-star actors on Broadway—and if it works, it’s a great thing for every non-star actor. I have felt so much goodwill and love from the theater community, from actors to press people, that this really is the dreamiest way imaginable to come to Broadway.”