BY CARY GINELL
VCOS: So Kris, is Lawrence Jamison kind of an updated, cosmopolitan version of Harold Hill?
KRIS: Yeah, but as Sean Harrington told me during rehearsals, my pockets are my friends, because I am a physical-showman-entertainer like Harold Hill. I’m very physical at anything I do. And for me to be more reserved and stylish was a challenge. A big challenge. I remember watching the movie and studying the script all summer long and I kept thinking, “OK, Sean sees me in this role. I don’t see it. He’s so reserved, I don’t know if I can do this.” Harold Hill loves the game, but so does Lawrence, but it’s a totally different entity, except they both get their foot caught in the door. They both fall in love and they don’t think they’re going to. Lawrence doesn’t have as many scruples. Harold had more of a heart, I think.
VCOS: Christanna, the last thing we saw you in was Cabrillo’s “1776,” which means you’re going from basically a dramatic role to strictly for laughs.
CHRISTANNA: Thank God! I’m more of a comedic person, naturally, because I’m goofy anyway. My biggest challenge ever, acting-wise, was Grace Farrell in “Annie,” because I was in this “box” and I could not go outside of it at all. She had to have a sense of humor and I didn’t want to make her boring. So I said to myself, “How am I going to make this character, who is so straight as an arrow and make her actually interesting and believable at the same time?” That was an awesome acting challenge for me.
KRIS: The hardest part for both of us in this: when I knew I had the role, I didn’t think I was right for it. When I called her and told her to audition, she didn’t think she could do it.
CHRISTANNA: No! Let me tell this story.
KRIS: She thinks I’m pushy.
CHRISTANNA: Oh my lord, of course, but I’m pushy too. BUT: Christine is me. I love it because I can explore all sort of different creative ideas and see what works and what doesn’t work. That’s the beauty of it. I didn’t think I could sing it. I had been doing so much legit stuff for so long and I’m now 28, so I was scared. I was listening to the album and thinking, “I can’t belt like this anymore.” Maybe when I was 18 and 19 when my vocal cords were youthful and lubricated, but now at 28, they’re all dried out.
VCOS: I’ve got socks older than you (Kris & Christanna explode with laughter.)
CHRISTANNA: I just was worried that I couldn’t sing the part. I knew the character, but was scared about the singing. And Kris said, “Do the f!&$! thing! Just do it!”
KRIS: I’ll tell you why I thought she could do it. I’ve worked with many, many, many leading women, but when you hit the one, like Dick Van Dyke with Mary Tyler Moore, there’s something there that works. And they said that from Day One when we started rehearsals for “Music Man.” We’re both Taureans. We’re both very stubborn. But it’s a challenge.
CHRISTANNA: He doesn’t scare me one bit. He always talks about how he scares people and intimidates them. He does not.
VCOS: I see sparks flying when you two are acting together.
CHRISTANNA: Maybe we should have our own reality show! (laughs)
VCOS: Now at the end of the show, it’s kind of ambiguous how the show ends. What do you think would happen in a sequel?
CHRISTANNA: I think that Lawrence and Stephen would now be fighting over her actual love, rather than their money. Because she loves that.
KRIS: At the end she says, “You know, I made fifty million dollars this year. But the most fun I ever had was taking the fifty thousand out of you two. So it was all a game for her.
CHRISTANNA: I think a sequel would be showing Christine’s vulnerable side, because you never see that in the show. Not once. She puts on the biggest show for the audience because you never see her real side.
KRIS: The thing about Lawrence is that he’s in and out of all of his personas.
VCOS: Did the accents give you trouble?
KRIS: Yes. Only because in the middle of scenes, I have to switch. If it was one scene with that character all the way through, I could do it. There’s one scene where I’m talking with Andre in a faux British accent, and then she walks in and I have to go into faux German. That was the hardest thing, when you have to do that in the middle of scenes. “Music Man” lines came much easier for me than this. Who says “perhaps” and “indeed”? It’s the little words that were killing me. Who uses the word “escutcheon”? There were so many words I had to look up! I always get these flowery roles. It’s like learning Shakespeare.
CHRISTANNA: It’s almost like Abbott and Costello.
KRIS: I’m the straight man, there isn’t any doubt about that. But, it’s still “Alas, it’s the royal vestige!” and things like that. And “arms length.” It’s just not the way I talk. Harold Hill was more organically me than this guy was.
VCOS: Last question. In the future, have you two talked about doing other shows together?
KRIS: I would love to do “Barnum” with her. Because she IS Charity Barnum, and Charity is the woman behind the showman.
CHRISTANNA: What if we did “My Fair Lady” together?
KRIS: Oh, Mylanta…I could do that with you because you would be good in the role. But Henry Higgins is a spoiled brat. He’s a cad and I don’t like that. “Eliza, get me my slippers!” I hate that last line.
CHRISTANNA: I would like to do “My Fair Lady” because I could really scream at him.
KRIS: Christanna will tell you that her passion is shifting. She wants to do film now.
CHRISTANNA: Yes, I’ve lost a lot of my passion for doing musicals.
KRIS: You know what’s funny? I was at that point at her age. I took nearly 20 years off and came back to do “Willy Wonka” here in Simi. I hadn’t been on the stage in nearly 20 years when I did that. It’s cyclical and it does come back. Now I do it for the fun of it. But I was burned out.
VCOS: You two would be great in “The Addams Family.” Kris as Gomez and Christanna as Morticia. You even look like Carolyn Jones.
CHRISTANNA: That sounds like fun. Maybe some day.
Catch Ventura County’s answer to Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” which plays through December 1 at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center. For dates and showtimes, consult the VC On Stage Calendar.