Two of last year’s best performances were delivered by Bridget Flanery, honored by StageSceneLA in the category Best Performance By A Lead Actress (Comedy) for her work in The Rainmaker at A Noise Within and The Taming Of The Shrew at the Odyssey. Bridget’s other stage appearances include roles at some of American’s top regional theaters—The Old Globe, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Yale Rep, and many more. TV audiences know the Guthrie Center, Iowa native from her numerous guest and recurring roles on such series as Will & Grace, Desperate Housewives, Out Of Practice, and Without A Trace.  Currently featured in The Falcon Theatre World Premiere production of Sam Bobrick’s The Psychic, Bridget took time from her busy schedule to sit down for a chat with StageSceneLA.

Bridget, you grew up in Iowa and graduated from Drake University in Des Moines.  How did a Midwest girl end up pursuing a career in acting? 

     A very young Bridget seated (l.) and standing (r.) with the rest of the Flanery family

It’s such a strange thing, Steven. I’m from a tiny farming town in Iowa.  We don’t even have a stoplight! There was certainly no theater to speak of where I grew up.  However, I always knew I want to be an actor.  As a child, I remember watching television with my family and when a show ended, my siblings would run to the kitchen to get snacks, but I would stay and read the credits.  I wanted to know who played who!  

So when was it that you got your first acting role?

Once I hit high school, I was thrilled to finally be eligible for drama. The role that “sealed the deal” was that of Anne Sullivan in The Miracle Worker. I was 15 and beat out all the seniors vying for the part. 

That’s a tough role for a 15-year-old.

In the script, there is a pivotal scene when my character becomes extremely frustrated with the Keller family. One evening, for the first time in my life, I found myself with tears streaming down my face as I delivered my lines.  I had never felt so connected to anything. The teenager in me was embarrassed to be crying in front of a packed-out audience, but underneath that self-consciousness was the knowledge that something wonderful had happened. That what I had found was right.

So what was people’s reaction to this budding talent in their midst?

Many people in that little town thought I was a nut-case for wanting to be an actor. I even had an English teacher tell me that my goals were unrealistic.  I was supposed to get married and have kids and stay in Iowa.  

Instead you went off to big city Des Moines and began studying at Drake University.  What was that like for you?

Once I made it to Drake, I found a plethora of kindred spirits, and never again thought of being a farmer’s wife anywhere but on the stage.

   Opening credit shot from Sweet Valley High and guesting on Babylon 5

You were hardly out of college when you made your TV debut on Sweet Valley High, where you stayed for two seasons.  Can you fill in the blanks between your graduation from Drake and appearing in a California-based TV series?

I moved to California, alone, shortly after Drake. I’d barely left the state of Iowa! I knew one person and slept on their floor for a month, while I secured a job, headshots, a permanent residence.  I was so fortunate because I looked extremely young. When I submitted to agents for representation, they thought I was sixteen years old and that totally worked in my favor. So I signed with my first agent and I booked my first television job on a little show called California Dreams about a month later. I played a sixteen year-old high school student. I had about seven lines and I was petrified! That was my first in a long line of teenybopper roles!

 Guesting on Out Of Practice with Ty Burrell and Christopher Gorham

You’ve worked consistently on TV since Sweet Valley, including recurring roles on Teen Angel and Sabrina The Teenage Witch and guest shots on Two And A Half Men, Out Of Practice, and Without A Trace, among others. What’s the key to getting cast in TV roles as often as you have?

I’d like to delude myself into believing that it’s sheer talent, but as we all know, in this city, talent is often irrelevant. Maybe I’m lucky? But, truthfully, I’m really not content with the amount of work I’ve done. I’m not ungrateful, mind you, but there are so many things I want to do and so many jobs I ached for and didn’t get. As far as auditioning, I just resolve to do everything I can when preparing for an audition to ensure I don’t have regrets. That way, it’s more difficult to take any rejection personally.

     Bridget as Peggy on Desperate Housewives

You also appeared in a pair of Will & Grace episodes in its seventh season and more recently on Desperate Housewives in its fifth.  What’s it like to guest on long-running series like these two, which have nearly iconic status with their fans?

They were both fantastic, educational experiences. Both of those shows run like well-oiled machines. The cast and crew know exactly what they’re doing and the shows themselves attract the best directors and guest stars. 

With Debra Messing and Eric Stoltz on Will & Grace

You worked with some pretty big names on Will & Grace.
Yes, I got to meet and work with Alec Baldwin and Eric Stoltz, who were also guest-starring. And the James Burrows directed. That is an insane amount of talent in one room!  I only wish I could have done more in the episodes! And, might I say, everyone I encountered on both shows was extremely kind and professional.

Bridget and Jon Cryer on Two And A Half Men

You also guest starred opposite Jon Cryer on Two And A Half Men. What was it like to be in bed with Pretty In Pink’s Ducky Dale?

Jon Cryer is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever worked with, as well as being comedically brilliant.  

Bridget in Something Blue

I noticed that a recent film of yours, Something Blue, which was shown at the Starz Denver Film Festival, was filmed in Polk County, Iowa, where the filmmaker grew up. This can’t be a coincidence. Fill us in on the story behind this.

No coincidence, indeed!  My dear filmmaker friend from Drake—Sean Gannon—wrote and directed his first feature film and I was honored to be a part of it.  As an Iowa native myself, it was such a treat to go back and shoot amidst the cornfields.  I got to play the troublesome, trashy sibling to the male lead. It’s a great first film for him and I am proud to have my name in there!

I first met you after your sensational performance as Lizzie in The Rainmaker at A Noise Within, and later caught you as a fabulous Katherine in The Taming Of The Shrew at the Odyssey.  How important is doing stage work for an L.A.-Hollywood-based actress?

At the risk of sounding like an overly dramatic thespian, it’s air for me. You simply don’t get to sharpen your chops with the material provided in most TV and film jobs/auditions.  Theater allows you to dust the cobwebs off of your technique and provides you the thrill that only being onstage can give. And I’ve had the privilege of working with incredible actors in both of those productions, really top-notch.

     With Ross Hewig, Bo Foxworth, and Mitchell Edmonds in The Rainmaker
     (Photos: Craig Schwartz)

Tell us more about playing Lizzie, the “old maid” who gets swept off her feet by a self-proclaimed “Rainmaker” named Starbuck.

The Rainmaker was one of my favorite productions of my career so far.  That production had a spectacular director, the other actors were magnificent and Lizzie was a character I’ve never done before. I wanted it so badly and I had to fight to get cast. I will always be grateful for that experience. I think I really grew as an actress and that is such a gift.

    With Jack Stehlin in The Taming Of The Shrew (Photo: Enci)

The Odyssey/Circus Theatrical production of The Taming Of The Shrew was one of the very best, and most accessible Shakespeare productions I’ve ever seen. How do you go about making Shakespearean English comprehensible to a contemporary audience (and to yourself, for that matter)?  

First of all, thank you. Doing Shakespeare is just like doing any other playwright, but better.  You don’t have to employ a stereotypical voice and gesticulations.  Just talk.  We are human beings dealing with the exact same desires and obstacles in 2010 that human beings have always contended with: love, sex, betrayal, death, etc. Just connect to that and talk. Also, I had a brilliant professor at Yale who informed me that all of Shakespeare’s characters are extraordinary.  All of them.  I always try to remember that.

 With Jeffrey Cannata in The Psychic (Photo: Chelsea Sutton)

In the Rainmaker, you were the umpteenth actress to play Lizzie. Now you’re creating a role in a world premiere production, The Psychic, at The Falcon Theatre.  Can you compare the experience of reviving a much-performed contemporary classic versus creating a role (and a production) from scratch?

It’s exciting to play a brand new character. You’re attempting to bring the playwright’s imagination to fruition.  You get to really play and explore and have input in creating something never done before and that is a rarity and a privilege.  You’re the first!  The playwright is entrusting you with their baby. You want to make them proud.  On the other hand, every actor has their dream roles from the tried-and-true classics!  Every young male theater actor wants to tackle Hamlet, every woman imagines conquering Lady Macbeth.  You constantly aspire to sink your teeth into the greats and make them yourown.  We all believe we have something to offer those iconic characters that has never been seen before.  Narcissistic? Yes, well, we’re actors.

What can audiences look forward to in The Psychic?

The Psychic is filled with great performances! Our two leads are fantastic. And those of us that make up the supporting cast are relishing our colorful, complex characters.  This is a delightful show that really takes the audience on an amusing and often perplexing ride. It sounds simplistic, but this show is fun.  Fun to do and fun to watch.  And that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Everyone I know who’s worked at the Falcon has raved about the experience. What is it about working there that has actors coming back for more?

Everyone I’ve encountered at The Falcon is incredibly professional.  They are extremely welcoming and committed to doing great work in LA. The facilities are immaculate and the crew is top-notch.  We have the greatest stage manager you could hope for.  I could go on and on about every aspect.  Suffice it to say, I hope to work here again!

How do you see your career continuing to develop over the next few years?  

I just want to work as much as possible.   I’d love to gain more consistent work in TV and film, and acquire some juicier roles.  And there’s always the dream theater roles: Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Hedda Gabler… I’ve always adored the play Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg.   Of course, I want to do more Shakespeare, some Chekhov, Nicky Silver, Conor McPherson, Odets, Martin McDonagh, Wilde …  There are so many magnificent plays and innovative playwrights to explore and I want to be involved in as many as I can!  Now all I need are theaters to produce these shows and cast me in them!


One last question. You were a gorgeous redhead in The Rainmaker and Taming Of The Shrew and now you’re a gorgeous blonde.  To paraphrase an old TV commercial catch phrase, are you having more fun as a blonde?

For the most part of my life, I’ve been blonde!  I went red as an experiment.  I wanted to see if it would change the roles and casting I received. When I booked The Rainmaker, they made it more brown.  The Taming of the Shrew turned me fiery red. And I actually colored it back to blonde this past summer for my wedding!  However, blonde is the perfect color for Rita Malone, my character in The Psychic. I keep saying that my next role will be that of a bald woman because if I attempt to put any more color on it, my hair will most likely fall out!!!

Thanks Bridget for taking time to sit down and answer our questions! Looking forward to seeing The Psychic on April Fools Day!

Watch scenes from Bridget’s guest appearances at

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