Carey Cox, currently starring in Queens Theatre’s production of Barefoot in the Park, is not shy when it comes to expressing her feelings about Queens Theatre’s Theatre For All training program. “It was literally life-changing,” Carey said. “I didn’t know there was a community of disabled actors.”
Carey had a Broadway credit on her resume (she understudied the part of Laura in the 2017 revival of The Glass Menagerie starring Sally Field), when she saw a notice about Queens Theatre’s new training program for disabled and Deaf actors during the summer of 2018 she immediately applied.
“I met this wide range of people, from all walks of life and at all different stages of their careers,” she said. “There were people trying to get in the door. There were people who had been doing their thing for a while.”
It was a group of actors dealing with a lot of the same issues she faced as a disabled performer—Carey developed Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in grad school, a genetic disorder that affects her joints and mobility—and she was thrilled to have found them.
She returned to this new-found community later that fall.
Queens Theatre put out a call for short plays by disabled playwrights and/or featuring disabled characters, and received 172 submissions, including one written by Carey called We'd Make Great Babies. Carey's play was one of nine that was presented in two readings for the public in the fall of 2018. Carey also performed during the festival. It was during the Theatre For All short plays festival that Brant Russell, director of Queens Theatre’s new production of Barefoot in the Park, first worked with Carey.
“When I directed Carey, I found that she is a smart actor who is both grounded and playful and her range is expansive,” Brant said. “When Taryn and I were talking about doing a production of Barefoot in the Park, she was immediately at the top of both of our minds to play Corie."
This past weekend, on the same night as Barefoot's opening, Carey’s play We'd Make Great Babies received a reading at the BIRD Theatre Festival in Tottori, Japan. It was directed by Queens Theatre Director of New Play Development Rob Urbinati.
Queens Theatre Executive Director Taryn Sacramone said, “With our Theatre For All training program, we wanted to provide an opportunity for disabled actors to receive inclusive, professional training to advance their careers, and also, as producers, to expand our own artistic family, finding talented actors to work with on our own productions and projects – Carey is an example of someone who we’ve now worked with in multiple ways. I love that she’s starring in Barefoot in Queens, while her play is being presented in Japan – she’s an extraordinary talent, and a very endearing and funny Corie.”
Prior to appearing in Barefoot, Carey’s most recent role was playing Laura in The Glass Menagerie at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.
Writing in the Star Tribune, Rohan Preston wrote, “Hers is an affecting and poignant performance that invites understanding, appreciation and joy.” Reviewer Maggie Seiner in Minnesota Monthly also had praise for Carey. “Cox not only succeeds in capturing Laura’s complexities for herself, but projects it onto the audience as well,” Seiner wrote.
During a Barefoot in the Park rehearsal at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, Carey reflected on the similarities she and her character, Corie, share.
“I love her curiosity and optimism. And she can be very impulsive,” Carey said. “I feel things deeply, like Corie does. I tend to speak my mind and speak based on emotions. Which is something I have in common with her.”
Carey has not seen a production of the play but is familiar with the movie adaption that starred Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.
“I’m such a Jane Fonda-type,” Carey joked. “That character knew she was funny and smart, and I’ve put that into my Corie. She was also unabashedly sexy. I’m hoping I can still be sexual but goofy.”
Barefoot in the Park is scheduled to run through Sunday, Nov. 24. Tickets start at $20 and are available by calling the Queens Theatre’s Box Office at 718-760-0064 or by visiting www.queenstheatre.org.
Top photo: Carey Cox (right) and Mhari Sandoval in a scene from Barefoot in the Park at Queens Theatre. Photo by Alice Chacon Photography
Bottom photo: In Carey Cox’s “We’d Make Great Babies” Shiori Goto reads the role of Jen and Naohisa Nakagaki reads the part of Mark at the BIRD Theatre Festival in Tottori, Japan.