Sara Morsey and Nell Page share the Hippodrome Mainstage again in “Ripcord”

By Jessica Fondo


Some people might think Abby is the mean one.


“She’s not mean at all!” Sara Morsey said of her character.


Really, Abby is just misunderstood. She has a wry and dry sense of humor.


“People take her quite seriously,” Morsey insisted, “more seriously than she takes herself.”


Abby does not try to cause problems for anyone, and she does not want anyone causing problems for her. She is self-contained and self-sufficient. She is not inherently unfriendly or mean but is old enough to know what she wants, and what she wants more than anything is to be alone.


Enter, Marilyn.


“Marilyn is quite the social butterfly, and she is very, very nice,” Nell Page said of her character.


She is friendly, talkative and Abby’s worst nightmare. There is no worse person Abby could be forced to share a room with than Marilyn, but there is no better pairing on the Hippodrome Mainstage than Sara Morsey and Nell Page.


Morsey and Page will take the Mainstage together once again in “Ripcord,” opening March 2. The two recognizable actors have been company members since the Hippodrome organized a company, but their careers began long before that.


When Nell Page was 18 years old, she was enamored with live theatre. She majored in theatre at the University of Florida and was cast in the lead role in the first play she auditioned for at the Hippodrome. That was in 1974.


Now, 44 years later, the Hippodrome is still flourishing, and Page continues returning to the theatre where she feels comfortable.


“It’s great to be back at the Hippodrome,” Page said. “When I am on stage, I feel most at home.”


Through the decades she has spent on the Mainstage, Page said she has seen an unparalleled quality of work within Hippodrome community.


“The Hippodrome does have something special,” Page said. “I’m not sure how to define what that is 一 you could ask patrons who have been here for the past 40-plus years, and they would probably all give you a different answer.”


One of the factors that differentiates the Hippodrome is the close relationships between company members, she said.


“I love working with this particular group of actors,” Page said. “There’s a lot of trust between us.”


Working with actors she knows so well allows Page to be vulnerable, which is both encouraging and freeing, she said. She and Sara Morsey have been collaborating on stage since Morsey began acting at the Hippodrome in 1993.


“We work well together, and because of our history, we know each other,” Page said. “There’s just that unspoken language that you share between each other.”


Morsey said the reason she is most excited to be in “Ripcord” is to once again share the stage with Page and the other actors in the show, all of whom she has worked with before.


Though she has 25 years of experience acting at the Hippodrome, Morsey said each play is different and offers a new opportunity to grow as an actor.


“You never know when you might learn something,” Morsey said. “You never know when you might up your game, so every single time you get a chance to be in the process with other actors, in the process of rehearsing a play, you never know what it’s going to do to up your game for the next one.”


Like any other profession, acting is a continual process, she said.


“You could have 25 years of experience, and it’s the same experience every day,” Morsey said. “Or you could have 25 years of experience, and it’s huge because you’ve let it blossom.”


She has acted in other David Lindsay-Abaire plays at the Hippodrome before, she said. The playwright has an ability to pack a lot of material into a a few words.


“He’s very funny right in the same breath as being very serious sometimes,” she said.


“Ripcord” crosses demographics and has something for everyone to enjoy, Morsey said. She hopes the Gainesville community takes advantage of this Florida premiere, which promises to be a unique experience.


“The theatre is here and accessible and open to everybody,” Morsey said. “And if you come in and see a live show, it’s going to be an experience that happens once in a lifetime because when it’s live, it happens once.”


Audiences can take from “Ripcord” a good laugh and an unrepeatable night, she said.


“There’s nothing like live theatre,” Morsey said. “Life is happening every night.”


For tickets, call 352.375.4477 or click here.