ARCHIVE: Salty Sea PTA is Called to Order

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Siobhan Fallon Hogan, a familiar face and a good neighbor, brings her original show THE SALTY SEA PTA to Red Bank’s Two River Theater this weekend, before starting a new film project with Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler.

By TOM CHESEK (First published on Red Bank oRBit June 15, 2009)

If Siobhan Fallon Hogan could just stand still for five minutes, maybe we could fulfill our dream of being able to conduct Seinfeld-themed tours of Red Bank, a la “the real Kenny Kramer.”

The tours could start at the Eisner Library, where Ron Steelman (Jerry’s cousin Artie!) regularly chairs meetings of the Red Bank Humanists. From there, we wind past the soup-nutsy local outpost of The Original SoupMan™ (former location of the Vandelay Cafe — what are the odds?), finally coming to rest outside the Count Basie Theatre, where posters advertise an upcoming appearance by Jason Alexander — and where board member Siobhan Fallon Hogan (Elaine’s roommate Tina!) waves to our double-decker bus.

It’s not to be, however, since as a mother of three school-age kids, vice president of the Holy Cross School PTA, and comedic character actress with a formidable list of film and TV credits, standing still doesn’t appear to be in the cards for the former SNL cast member who now resides full time in Rumson.

Even if you don’t immediately respond to the name, you’ve seen her face in films ranging from blockbusters (Forrest Gump, Men in Black) to family romps (Daddy Daycare, Charlotte’s Web) and the occasional Lars von Trier arthouse oddities (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville). Consequently, she’s shared the frame with such screen icons as Tom HanksNicole KidmanEddie MurphyWill SmithRenee Zellweger and, well, Pauly Shore.

Starting this summer, Hogan will be appearing alongside Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler in the role of a bail bondswoman in the forthcoming feature Bounty Hunter, a production that, the actress tells us, will bring “Gernnifer” to Monmouth County to film sequences at Monmouth Park Racetrack (and possibly other bits of local scenery). Thanks to Siobhan, you read it here first in oRBit.

Before that, however, Hogan has another exciting project keeping her busy — a self-penned, one-woman tour de force called The Salty Sea PTA, a “satirical look at PTA life” that “showcases Hogan as a variety of different characters from parents to coaches to school psychiatrist.”

Hometurf audiences will be the first in the nation to get a look at this original stage work, as Hogan presents two performances this weekend (8pm on June 20; 7pm on June 21), at Two River Theater in Red Bank. The shows, originally scheduled for June 18 and 19, were repositioned due to the Bounty Hunter commitment —  and as of this posting, a very limited number of tickets have been made available for both shows. So reserve those tix ($45) by calling the Two River box office at(732)345-1400 or checking online here.

Red Bank oRBit, who first interviewed Hogan in conjunction with her duties as host of the 2009 Count Basie Awards, met up with the writer and performer at our unofficial conference space inside Zebu Forno. Here’s how that played out.

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The actress is pictured at a press conference for the 2009 Count Basie Awards, with Basie Cool School director Yvonne Lamb Scudiery, and CEO Numa Saisselin.

RED BANK ORBIT: Well, the show looks like a lot of fun just based on the title and who’s doing it — but the obvious question would have to be, is the town of Salty Sea a stand-in for a certain Monmouth County community?

SIOBHAN FALLON HOGAN: You could say that Salty Sea is Rumson, sure — but it’s about nobody specific. People who know me know that I’m not making fun of anyone in a cruel way.

It’s the material that’s specific; there are things that are inspired by real life. But as far as imitating people, I realized that I can’t poke fun at anyone unless I poke fun at myself. That’s sort of what I’m doing when I appear as my own mother at the beginning of the show — she addresses the audience, telling them ‘imagine thenerve of her, putting a show on about you!’

So in the show I play ten parts — there’s the PTA president; there’s several parents, such as a ‘green biker’ mom, a British mom who’s obsessing over healthy snacks, an arts-and-crafts mom, and a New Yorker who’s sick of New Jersey.

There’s also a French mom who’s concerned about her kid being bullied, and then there’s the bullying specialist sort of counselor, and the football coach, as well as the ‘team mom.’ And my own mom! You could say that it’s all just an excuse to do insane accents.

You’re probably doing more characters in one hour than you got to do in your entire time on Saturday Night Live!

Well, that was in 1991, ‘92 — it was the era of Wayne’s World, you know? Mike MyersDana CarveyAdam SandlerChris Rock — a very male-dominated time. But it opened so many doors for me.

I’ve seen you in a lot of different movies, and it seems that you’ve carved out a comfortable career specializing in parts where, if you’re not literally the farmer’s wife, then you’re a person who lives in a small town sort of setting…

That’s probably my upstate New York background showing through. As a farmer, a hick, I’m golden. As a psychiatrist or a lawyer, I suck.

When I heard that the Thursday show you had originally scheduled sold out right away, I figured that everybody in your kids’ school bought a ticket to see if you talked about them. Have your fellow PTA people been aware of this project from the start?

That is pretty much what happened! I had twenty teachers from the school coming to that one show. The first time I exposed other people to this project was when I read it to friends in my living room last October. But it was really the people from the Elizabeth Ministries who encouraged me the most in getting this together. They asked me to speak there last February, and I gave them a little preview of what I was doing. They gave me the courage to keep writing it.

Did you get a lot of encouragement from your parents when you first settled upon acting as a serious pursuit?

Any parent would be worried if their kid announced that they want to pursue acting as a career. My mom Rosemary always had a phobia of performing; my father, one of the funniest people I ever met, was supportive in a sort-of sense — he really wanted me to study something I could fall back on.

How about your own kids? Any interest there in a showbiz career?

As far as my own kids, who are 14, 10 and 7, I wouldn’t want any of them to be child actors. I should say that my son, the 10-year old, was in Baby Mama with me, because they needed a boy his age for a small part. So he’s interested in acting; he loves movies and he wants to direct.

My youngest is interested also in acting, but my oldest daughter Bernadette, who went to school in New York City until the third grade, is not interested in acting. She’s a horseback rider.

I’m sure there was a time when you might have found it impossible to imagine your life as a mom, living outside the city — but even if you did envision such a thing, how weird is it to be serving on the PTA and all these other organizations?

I’m only on two boards — the PTA, and the Basie, although I don’t have any specific subcommittee or anything. I’m not very organized; not good at details.

Well, you must be very good at all the details of THE SALTY SEA PTA. Would you say that it’s still evolving, still being workshopped with these Two River shows?  

As far as it being a work in progress, I guess we’ll just have to see. I think in my mind it’s all set; I’m now at the stage where I’m a little more relaxed about it. I have it memorized, and I can think of little things that I can add here and there.

And are these shows a warmup of sorts, or a preview for a New York run? Do you have anything like that in the works? 

I hope to be doing this in New York, but nothing is set right now. Doing a Broadway show is tough when you have kids at home. I tell people it’s not my time right now; I’m just a full time mom, when I’m not in a movie.

But if somebody came to you with a contract in hand for an open-ended engagement on Broadway?

Then here come the TV dinners! Actually, I don’t like doing one-person shows as a rule — I liken it to going through the pain of giving birth, and then forgetting how much it hurts and doing it all over again. I guess I do this sort of thing every ten years; I did a one-woman show with the Atlantic Theater Company in 1999, about motherhood. But the bottom line is that a cast party with yourself is not much fun.

Something about one-woman shows must appeal to you on some level. 

I shouldn’t call it a one-woman show; there are a lot of great people working really hard on this thing. It’s being directed by Peter King, who I’ve been friends with for over 25 years, and who really knows comedy. Neveen Mullaly designed the costumes, and Debbie Black is the one who connected me to the Two River Theater, which is just the perfect size for this thing. The way it’s designed is so intimate; there’s not a bad seat in the house. It’s 350 seats; if you get too much bigger you lose that intimacy.

And Charlie Puth, who’s from Rumson, plays all the music. He’s really great — he went to the Manhattan School of Music and he’s tremendously talented. I sing two songs in this show — ‘Delta Dawn‘ and ‘Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes.’

After all the years that you’ve lived down here, and being involved in the PTA, do you feel much more a part of Rumson and the area in general? Or is there still part of you that feels like the New York actor fish out of water? How does the struggling, bohemian artist in you react to your new life as a recent arrival in an old-money, old-family kind of town?

I look at people around town, and I realize that so many of my neighbors lost millions in the stock market — I take the ferry into the city on auditions, and I notice that there’s a big drop in ridership. It might not be evident, but there are families here that have come up against hard times. So with the economy the way it’s been, I have to make this really good.

My husband Peter Hogan organized the Irish festival around here, and I feel a stronger connection now after several years being here. There are so many transplants from New York, along with so many people who have lived their whole lives here. I find the people here to be really real; you find your pals and you stick with them.

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