Spark Theatre Festival

About the Artist

Melissa Attebery, Director – Doris Day: My Secret Love

Tell me about Doris Day: My Secret Love.  What do you love most about this play? 

What I love most about this play is how real Doris is. We think of her as a commodity, one of the most famous movie stars and singers in American history, but on the inside, she is someone with whom most everyday people can identify. There are so many layers to her, so many depths for us to explore and so many new questions to ask about her and about ourselves.

Can you tell us a little about your artistic process or background? How is that process is being realized in your work on this play? 

My background has always been focused on the development of original work. We’ve been developing Doris Day: My Secret Love off and on for several years, and it’s in the coming back, the reacquaintance, and the personal growth that’s taken place in between, that the play found its message. Now, we come back once again, this time with designers and a new actor in the role of Les Brown, and it feels like the world is opening up before us.

How do you feel rehearsals are going? What is your vision for this piece or this project? 

Rehearsals start in two days. It’s our intention to highlight the sharp contrasts between Doris’ public and private lives and to depict her inner life in a choreographed dance of psychological moments, memories, showmanship, and of course, actual song and dance.

Is there anything important or meaningful about this piece to you? 

Part of my artistic journey, and especially my journey as a woman, has been the reclamation of my voice and accepting the risks associated with that. In this way, I can closely identify with how Doris feels and what it means for her to break free. I know what it’s like to have other people make decisions for you, to be invisible in a room even though you feel like you’re standing on the table screaming, to just want to simply give and receive love. And Doris shows us that she’s not exempt from these feelings, that the grass is not greener on the other side, and that we are not alone.

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Melissa Attebery (Director) Melissa began in TV in LA, holding various positions in production and development at companies like Paramount, Viacom, and Granada Entertainment. She then moved to the New York stage, focusing on the direction and development of original plays by New York writers such as Caridad Svich, Vanessa Shealy, Carla Ching, Aurin Squire, and Susan Merson, playing at venues such as Primary Stages, The Abingdon, HERE, Queens Theatre in the Park, FringeNYC and The Players. Her directing work also includes extant works by classic American, LGBTQIA+, dark farce, comedic and absurd playwrights. Over the last 18 years, Melissa has directed a number of original works at Emerging Artists Theatre, where she is also an Associate Artistic Director. She was a script evaluator for the Atlantic Theater Company, New York Theatre Workshop, and FringeNYC. She assistant-directed for Tina Howe at the 24 Hour Plays on Broadway and directed the award-winning comedy Larry Gets the Call by Matt Casarino, which went on to be featured at DaDaFest International in Liverpool, where she also directed other original works, including Screw You Jimmy Choo!, which originally premiered at the Gasworks Arts Park in Melbourne, Australia, then at the Kennedy Center. She also produced A Celebration of Women in Theatre: Miss Representation, a rousing and thought-provoking evening of film, theater, photography, and discussion. Melissa holds an MFA in Directing from The Actors Studio Drama School and spends her days as the head of HR for a science-technology company in Brooklyn.