Laguna Playhouse through June 24th as star of the world premiere production Ask Mrs. Honey B., Certified Life Coach.
This interactive comedy’s title character is created and played by Maripat Donovan, who is best known as the indomitable, all-knowing Sister in Late Nite Catechism. As one of the writers of Late Nite Catechism as well as one of its original and continuing actresses, Donovan shared with me that she is looking forward to her new role.
“I’m a full person and so is Sister, but there are some things Sister can’t relate to: marriage, kids and family,” Donovan said. “I was thinking of maybe doing a cooking show or home economics where I could wear a wig and a dress and pearls, everything Sister can’t wear.”
Eventually, Donovan and co-writer/director Marc Silvia created Mrs. Honey B., a retired home economics teacher from Ronald Reagan High School in Illinois who has become a life coach. “I attended an online course to become a certified life coach and actually have served as a life coach to Marc,” according to Donovan. “A life coach isn’t supposed to give advice, just ask questions to get people to find their own answers. Mrs. Honey B. can’t resist, however, giving her clients a little extra push.”
As excited as she is about her new show and character, Donovan certainly doesn’t regret the time she has been associated with Late Nite Catechism. “I never expected the popularity of (Late Nite Catechism) in a million, billion, trillion years; it’s my life and I’ve been very fortunate,” she says in all humility. “My friend at a tiny theatre in Chicago put it in a late-night slot because there was so much theatre going on in Chicago at the time. Since then, I’ve written five sequels and it’s been going over 20 years.” Shortly before we spoke, Donovan’s agent had called her with an idea for a sixth show featuring Sister.
Donovan has historically been the only person on stage during her lengthy run in Late Nite Catechism. “It gets lonely when you do one-person plays,” Donovan said, so she sounds thrilled to be sharing the spotlight with Denise Fennell and Scott Bielecky in Ask Mrs. Honey B. The popular alumni of the long-running Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding co-star as Angie and Frank Travertino, a troubled married couple who come to Mrs. Honey B. for coaching.
“They are such geniuses,” Donovan gloats. “I spent many hours prior to this watching them in Tony ‘n Tina, then asked Denise to play one of our nuns in Late Nite Catechism.” Donovan reports that while there isn’t any specific GLBT content in Mrs. Honey B., “the show is so improvisational and interactive that if there is a same-sex couple in the audience, we will include them and who knows what will come out… so to speak.”
Donovan is herself lesbian and has been partnered with a fellow actor for 15 years. They live with their family of Chihuahuas and one cat in Hollywood. “I was born and raised in Chicago and thought I’d always live there, until I moved to Hollywood,” Donovan confessed. “I love it here.”
Laguna Playhouse’s production of Ask Mrs. Honey B., Certified Life Coach will be, Donovan delicately says, “the first time the world is going to sniff us.” She then enthused, “It will be a lot of fun and we’ll all have a lot of laughs together.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Laguna Playhouse's website or call (949) 497-ARTS.
Interview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.