Old Hollywood meets new — Rachael Fox looks to classic, film noir roles


Reporter’s Note: Each summer, Chautauqua Theater Company and Chautauqua Opera Company invite young actors and artists into its program for a fully-funded fellowship. This summer’s program consists of seven actors and five Young Artists, as well as some guest artists. To better connect readers to the actors themselves, Q-and-A interviews will run regularly throughout the remainder of summer.


Who: Rachael Fox, from Kansas City, Missouri, is about to start her fourth year at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, to work toward her master of fine arts in acting. She received her undergraduate degree in theater at Kansas State University. She portrayed Toria in Blood at the Root and Arlecchino in Commedia this summer. 

How did you hear about the Chautauqua Theater Company?

I heard about this company for years in my New York life, and I’ve wanted to work with them for years. I met Andrew Borba when he came to my school and did an audition workshop with us. My dear friend and mentor Missy Sturgis is a former Chautauqua Guest Artist, she was in Into the Breeches. I had heard all about Chautauqua from her. She’s also friends with Andrew and Stori (Ayers) and loves both of them. I had heard wonderful things about them and everybody. Then this year, I sent in an audition, and here I am. 

What is a performance that you saw recently that wowed you?

I saw a taped performance of What the Constitution Means to Me, and it floored me. Heidi Schreck was doing this one-person show. … I have not been moved by a piece of theater like that in a very long time, and it was through a digital platform, it was her performing it onstage, but it was incredible. It was funny. It was enraging. It was heartbreaking. It was so dynamic, so alive and so honest and I loved it.

What is your go-to favorite movie to watch?

The joke around the company is that I’m 105 and trapped in my body. I tell them I just wear a lot of sunscreen so all of my favorite movies are old, but I’ll give you a couple because I can’t pick just one. “The Big Sleep,” “All About Eve.” I’m a huge film noir fan. 

I love the crackerjack dialogue. I love the nuance of them. I think that the acting was just supreme. There’s something about these actors in these old movies that is so beautiful, and I watch Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and it’s like a masterclass in exactly what is happening in that moment. I watched Barbara Stanwyck and the way she has with the language. I’ve always been so drawn to language, which maybe is a huge part of it, because these old movies are so language-driven. The way it flows and the way it crackles in the way they respond to each other and how theatrical they are. They’re so comforting to me, and delightful, and I end up watching the same movies over and over because I love them so much.

What have you been binge watching?

I love watching “The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell,” and I’ve watched this over and over. It’s one season on Netflix because it is so niche; I don’t even know how it was made. It’s like someone created a TV show for me. This woman, Christine McConnell — I don’t understand her talent. She creates things like this weird mad scientist who dresses like she’s in the 1940s and ‘50s, with hair and makeup all done vintage. She makes these creepy, spooky, Halloween-inspired magical decorations and cakes and everything. She’s like Tim Burton meets Martha Stewart, and then the Henson Company paired with her so there are these puppets that interact with her on this TV show. I don’t know how it was made. 

I just started watching “Summer Camp Island” on Cartoon Network. I’m not usually a Cartoon Network person, but this cartoon is so sweet. It takes place on this magical island where these witches are the counselors, and the main characters are a hedgehog and this little elephant. They come to this island and the secret is the parents drop them off and everything comes alive when they leave. It’s like this childhood sort of Mecca where your pajamas talk and food talks and there are monsters and it’s so sweet and comforting.

What have you been listening to?

I’m loving Leon Bridges’ new album. It’s so good. For Arlecchino, I’m listening to a lot of Prince. That’s been my pre-show playlist. This whole summer I’ve been into Motown a lot and always my go-to will be jazz. I love Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Bill Evans, all of them.

What is your dream role?

I would love to do a film noir. I would love to do a Daphne du Maurier-like suspenseful, gothic romance kind of thing, (where) the heroine goes on this adventure to a mysterious house. I would love to do stuff like that. 

Who are your influences?

Barbara Stanwyck is one of my favorite actresses of all time. I love Katharine Hepburn. I love Lauren Bacall. I love Marilyn Monroe; I think she’s a comedic genius. I love Carol Burnett. Laura Dern is a huge influence for me. My friend Missy Sturgis has been a mentor of mine for years, and I think that she’s a remarkable artist, and I’ve learned so much from her. I’m inspired by watching people in various forms of art. I’ve loved being able to see dancers and musicians here and get inspired that way, too.

What is your go-to food after a long day of rehearsal?

I’m obsessed with avocados. I could eat them all the time. I’ve been doing crackers and salsa and avocado after rehearsal. I love salted dark chocolate, and I love me a glass of wine — I’m not going to lie about that.

What is the best part of being in CTC?

The relationships I’ve made while I’ve been here. The people in the company have been incredible. This space that’s made for art to happen and the welcoming of collaboration.

Tags : 2021Chautauqua Theater Companyclassicconservatory actorctcfilm noirold hollywoodRachael Fox
David Kwiatkowski

The author David Kwiatkowski