Reed Birney has tackled plenty of diverse roles over his four-decade career, but you've neer seen him like this before! The veteran stage and screen star is trying heels and a wig on for size in Harvey Fierstein's new play Casa Valentina, and he recently snagged a Tony nomination for his acclaimed portrayal of scheming crossdresser Charlotte. But Birney can't bring the delightfully devilish Charlotte to the masses without a little backstage help—we sent the star on a photo scavenger hunt around the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre to show us his favorite props, co-stars and dressing room must-haves. Check out his photo stash below!
My view from the stage door
"The empty barricade holding back our handful of autograph seekers. I'm not sure the barricade is necessary, but it makes us feel fancy anyway."
My favorite thing in my dressing room
"A bowl of Advil. A pulmonologist friend of mine suggested I take four Advil before every show to protect my lungs from the cigarettes I smoke in the play. Charlotte seems to be a chain smoker and when she drags, she drags hard. Nice to feel a little protected."
My view from the stage
"This is from stage right looking out at the stage at the top of act 2. The wigwam is in place for our little girl group rendition of 'Sugartime.' One of the highlights of the play and our Act Two opener."
My favorite co-stars
"Nick Westrate and Gabe Ebert. My dressing roommates and all-around hilarious good guys. We have a ball. One of the best dressing rooms of my life. And I've had a lot of dressing rooms."
The crew member who saves my ass
"Erin Kennedy Lunsford, our wonderful hair lady who maintains my amazing wig, which has come to be known as Charlotta. Because she's a lotta work."
My favorite line in the play
"If I took no for an answer, you'd be addressing a man."
The best costume piece I wear
"This gorgeous scarf, which belonged to [costume designer] Rita Ryack's mother, which I wear for my entrance. Rita's inspiration for Charlotte's wardrobe was Tippi Hedrin in The Birds. But I'd just watched The Last Picture Show and Ellen Burstyn has a scene with a scarf on her head driving in a car. I thought I want that for Charlotte's arrival. And when I take it off, it makes for a wonderful reveal of my wig."
My favorite spot in the theater
"The Equity cot. A nap between shows. It doesn't get much better than that."
The coolest prop in the show
"My purse. A huge part of who Charlotte is. It's like a weapon. Our costume designer, Rita Ryack, found it. It is so evocative of the early '60s. And it has that terrifying snap sound when it closes that completely reminds me of an old babysitter I had."
The first thing I take off after curtain call
"Charlotta. She needs to rest and refresh."
A selfie right before I go onstage
"The play opens with a gorgeous prologue that Joe Mantello devised that lets the audience know that we are telling a serious story. So, so smart. But I don't have time after that to do my full makeup so I have my eyes fully done at the top. Then I race upstairs and finish for my entrance as Charlotte. So much fun."