Veteran OSF actress Miriam Laube, above, and husband Rex Young are moving to New York City. Photo by Cynthia Smalley.
After 16 seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Miriam Laube is raising the stakes and moving to New York City with her husband and veteran OSF actor Rex Young.
They sell their house in Ashland and return east in October. They plan to renovate an apartment they own. They praised him during their OSF years.
Laube will however tackle a new project before the move. In August, she will begin working on “What If”, a film directed by Emmy Award-winning actor Billy Porter.
“This is about a high school student who falls in love with a transgender girl at his school,” Laube said. “I play his mother.”
When the boy posts about his crush online, the internet encourages him to go. The film, which is part of the Orion Pictures relaunch, will star rising star Yasmin Finney, a 17-year-old black trans woman from Manchester, England.
Laube hopes to return to OSF in the future.
“One of the greatest blessings of our life,” she said, “has been to be part of a company of craftsmen where the work is greater than the sum of its parts.”
For the past 10 years before the pandemic, Laube and Young also hosted cafes for OSF Premiere members and helped organize producer weekends.
“I will miss interviewing other artists,” she said, “and organizing experiences for OSF patrons. “
She has several roles among her favorites at the OSF.
Her role as a witch in “Into the Woods” in 2014 is particularly memorable for two reasons.
“Amanda Dehnert realized,” she said. “I loved all of his pieces, but this one stood out. And it was very special to be on stage with Catherine Coulson. Coulson played stepmom Milky White and Giant in the production. She died of complications from cancer the following year.
Another favorite was playing courtesan Vasantasena in “The Clay Cart”. Her performance was called “radiant and charismatic” by the Oregonian. The 2008 play was directed by Bill Rauch in his first season as artistic director of the OSF. And Laube sees his two associate leadership assignments under Rauch as rewarding collaborative experiences.
It is a relationship of mutual admiration. In a previous interview, Rauch said of Laube: “As a collaborator, she has a strange ability to see the big picture. She’s a total theater artist.
A third OSF role on her roster is Olivia in 2010’s “Twelfth Night”. Her husband played the stereotypical idiot Sir Andrew Aguecheek, a favorite role of many high-profile Shakespearean actors.
The two shows for which Laube was associate director with Rauch were “Oklahoma” and “Pirates of Penzance”. She finds satisfaction in both disciplines.
“As an actor you focus more on knowing what instrument you are,” she said. “As a director, you are like the conductor. I really enjoy directing.
One of her most difficult roles was as Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”, directed by Rauch in 2015.
“I learned something about architecture and scale,” she said.
The first scene takes place in a parental suite. It is an intimate scene, but “public” in the context of the staging and reflecting the zeitgeist. It is a story told primarily from Antoine’s point of view in a patriarchal society where women were submissive to men.
“During rehearsals in the Great Hall, it felt intimate,” Laube said. “But on stage, the bed looked like a symbol. This allowed the audience to make judgments: “Oh, she’s a bitch”. It was the one I would have liked to have had double the rehearsal time.
Laube grew up in McKeesport, in the greater Pittsburgh area. His father was German and his mother Indian.
When she was 5, a theater set up across the street. A piano studio where she took lessons was just down the street from the theater. I was a magical artistic triangle.
The first show she saw at the McKeesport Little Theater was “Man of La Mancha”.
“I remember the feeling of being inside the music,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on on the show, but I remember the feeling, the energy.”
Today, she finds this feeling in the language of Shakespeare and Sondheim.
“You say these words and they have a kind of fire, a taste – they feel good in your mouth,” she said.
When she was a child she performed in productions such as “South Pacific” and “Fiddler on the Roof”. When she was 14, she played the title role in “The Diary of Anne Frank”.
In an ironic twist, while attending high school, she was cast for “The Man from La Mancha” as Aldonza, who the character of Don Quixote falls in love with.
As much as she loved music and theater, she attended Boston College to study economics. On the second day of school, she found out the school was going to do “West Side Story”. She went to the theater and never left. She was chosen as Maria later that year and changed majors in her freshman year. She received her MFA from the University of Minnesota.
After graduating, she went straight to Guthrie in Minneapolis and worked in repertory theater. She studied under the direction of master directors Garland Wright and Dominique Serrand.
“In ‘Nagamandala’ I tried to add too many frills to my lines. Wright taught me to “just say the words”. I learned to trust and honor the words of the playwright.
In a play directed by Serrand, the stage was covered with grass. Serrand told him not only to see the grass, but to smell the grass. “It was a lesson to be in the moment,” Laube said.
She later auditioned for Milwaukee Rep, where she met Rex. A few years later, on his way to Ashland to surprise his family for Christmas, he stopped by the lake near Mt. Shasta, got out of the car, knelt down and proposed.
In addition to her work for OSF, Laube appeared in the Bollywood musical “Bombay Dreams” on Broadway in 2004, worked for several regional theater companies and was even assistant to the senior vice president of labor relations at the NFL.
His first role with the OSF was in 1996 as Yazmin in “Pentecost” by David Edgars. She was chosen twice in Shakespeare’s “Timon of Athens”, in 1997 and again in 2016, a rarity as it is rarely performed.
Laube recently got involved as a senior producer for Play On Podcasts, which creates audio productions of Shakespeare’s “translations” of Play On. It is funded by the Hitz Foundation and hosted by Next Chapter Podcasts.
The translations are not a literal explanation of what is going on. “Our mission is to create performing backing pieces,” said Lue Douthit, Creative Director of Play On and former OSF production playwright. “It’s new pieces that way.”
The plays are performed with original music and feature the voices of many renowned artists, some of whom are OSF actors. “I’m really proud to be a part of these,” Laube said.
To listen to “Macbeth” and “Pericles” (episode 7 released last week) and to learn more about podcasts, visit ncpodcasts.com/playonpodcast.
Dawn looks forward to the next chapter of his life, however bittersweet the transition may be. She said the hardest part of moving on is learning to let go, “not to hold on too hard.”
But the main thing is that she considers herself rather lucky.
“I can do what I love with the person I love.”
Contact Ashland writer Jim Flint at [email protected]