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The Performers - Broadway

Cheyenne Jackson and Henry Winkler star in David West Read's new comedy.

Alicia Silverstone on Vamps, Vibrators & Why The Performers Is More Than a Porn Comedy

Alicia Silverstone on Vamps, Vibrators & Why The Performers Is More Than a Porn Comedy
Alicia Silverstone & Henry Winkler in 'The Performers'
'Any opportunity to come to Broadway and live in New York is a dream come true.'

Alicia Silverstone has come a long way since her iconic role as Cher in the 1995 hit film Clueless. These days, she’s all about Broadway! The California-based actress is appearing in the new romantic porn comedy The Performers, which opens on November 14 at the Longacre Theatre. A veteran of the Broadway productions of The Graduate and Time Stands Still, Silverstone is also a dedicated animal and environmental rights activist who has written the bestselling vegan lifestyle book, The Kind Diet. Silverstone spoke to Broadway.com about the differences between stage and film acting, her new film with Clueless writer-director, Amy Heckerling, and why she’s promoting a vibrator while starring in a play about the porn world. 

What did you think when you read the script for The Performers?
I thought, “This would be fun.” It’s really silly, and kind of punk rock in its approach. It’s set in what would be assumed to be a dark world—the porn star world—but it’s really light. It’s just using that world as a backdrop for these lovely relationships. The director [Evan Cabnet] and the writer [David West Read] were both so collaborative with me and so truly welcoming of my ideas and thoughts. It felt like it would be the right thing.

Everybody calls this a “porn comedy,” but it's really more about marriage and relationships, right?
What can we learn about relationships from this play? Well, hopefully you can relate to the complications that happen when you’re in a relationship for a really long time, and there’s the idea that you’re missing something, or that the other person might be bored, or that you’re not enough. My character [who is married to a reporter played by Daniel Breaker] comes to the conclusion that she is enough and accepts that she is exactly where she’s supposed to be.

This ensemble is so much fun. How has it come together? Are your styles of performance meshing?
I was the last one to join the cast, so they had a lot of time to play with each other and get to know each other. But it’s such a nice group of people. Everyone is very, very kind and generous, and we’re definitely a company. When you put six people together, it's always a question of chemistry. Does it all work? And in this case, I think it really does. I love being on stage with all of them. There’s no one I look at and go “Myep!” I love working with Jenni [Barber], Daniel [Breaker], Ari [Graynor], Henry [Winkler] and Cheyenne [Jackson]. I don’t get to interact with Cheyenne as much as I would like to, but it’s lovely. We all blend really well.

How are audiences responding to the show?
Great! They laugh from the moment they sit in the chair to the moment they leave. It’s just an absolute romp. It’s nice to be able to make people laugh really hard, and they seem to be moved at the sweet parts, too. They go “Oooh,” you know? I think they’re following our story, which is nice.

What do you love about stage acting? Do you feel like you have something of a double life as a film and stage actress?
I love theater so much! Any opportunity to come to Broadway and live in New York is a dream come true. I’ve been lucky enough to do it three times, and it’s just wonderful, but I don’t feel like you need to do a different style of acting [from screen to stage]. You still want to tell the truth. I’m sure there are subtle differences, but theater makes me feel very wild and adventurous. I feel free to do anything, and I bring that to my film work , which seems to make me a better actor.

Speaking of films, how excited are you about the release of the new comedy Vamps?
I love Vamps, and I hope, hope, hope people will go see it as soon as possible; it opens on November 9 here in New York, and it’s just one of those really special, quirky, funny movies. [Co-stars] Sigourney Weaver, Wallace Shawn, Krysten Ritter, Justin Kirk and Dan Stevens are such a great group of people. Everybody is so funny and so charming. Talk about a movie that’s going to make you laugh really hard! But also maybe cry, because it’s so heartwarming. It’s like a buddy comedy for women. I’m really proud of it. I think [Clueless writer/director] Amy Heckerling did such a great job.

Do you and Amy Heckerling have shorthand now?
Yes, I think we do. We can just look at each other and know. We have a real respect and love for each other. When I see her, I feel really warm and very safe, and she’s so smart. Vamps is like a love letter to New York. It’s a very clever and interesting take on the city, and it’s got so many things going on. On the one hand, it’s got that Clueless thing where it’s super fun and the costumes are amazing, but it’s also campy: Boys! Girls! Clothes! Nightlife! Underneath it all, you have lovely scenes of dealing with getting older, dealing with letting go, dealing with love, dealing with the times changing and all that kind of stuff. I love how Amy does layers, and I don’t think a lot of people are able to do that.

Are you enjoying the Clueless reunions?
It was super fun to get to see everybody again! And I think it’s super neat that Paul Rudd [now on Broadway in Grace], [Vamps co-star] Dan Stevens [The Heiress] and I are on Broadway at the same time together. It’s all connected, right? Dan is across the street, and Paul is up the street!

How about a Broadway reunion with you, Dan and Paul?
That would not be a bad idea. Make that happen!

Are you enjoying living in New York City with your family?
I love it. We live near the grooviest park ever. My kid [Bear Blu] just walks around, meets different people, plays with musicians, says hello to everybody and he’s only a year and half! We can’t do that in L.A. Before I had a kid I always felt like, “I don’t want to have a kid in New York!” Now I’m like, “This is so amazing to have a kid in New York!” And I loved the [Hurricane Sandy] blackout. I know it’s been devastating for so many people, and I’m so sad for what people had to go through, but I actually loved having no power. I didn’t have to use my computer. I could come home from the theater and just go to sleep or talk to my husband for a little while. I thought it was kind of romantic and nice. But a little chilly, for sure.

You're well known for your veganism and environmental work. How did you start promoting the Leaf vibrator?
I have a store on OpenSky, and I recommend products that are eco-friendly and animal friendly. The Leaf was one of the products that I was recommending for people who do use vibrators or people who do want to buy one. I was happy to know that there was one that was a kinder version that was made with natural materials and rechargeable batteries. So, I’m really proud to be able to help provide a product that is made responsibly.

Is it just a coincidence that you’re promoting a vibrator while appearing in The Performers?
I think it’s perfect! And I’m definitely going to give it to some cast members as an opening night gift. Perfect timing! We were in rehearsal and there was a big black dildo in the background, and I was like, “What on earth?” This thing was so huge, and I didn’t understand for the life of me how that would ever be used by any human being. Then, at the same time, my OpenSky site sent me a link to this Leaf product and I was like, “Hey guys, there’s this really pretty eco-friendly version!” It made feel really good about the world that there was a better option.

See Alicia Silverstone in The Performers at the Longacre Theatre.

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