Assistant Living

If the world gave out awards for multi tasking Angela Madden would take home a blue ribbon. She is a writer, director, performer, producer; co-founder of Phoenix Theatre Ensemble and one of their Board Members. But before she was any of these things she was an assistant, a secretary, and in her own words, a “servant”, to rich C.E.O’s across the nation. Angela Madden’s one woman show, C.E.O and Cinderella, has more than a hint of autobiographical truth to it. Both the actress and character are named Angela, they both have a theatrical background and both have worked in high powered corporations before devoting themselves to theatre.

Angela started her career as a modern day Cinderella, performing menial tasks for her boss while eagerly awaiting her own invitation to one of his balls. In the meantime, she is there to serve his dinner. “Give it to the peasants,” her first boss would say, referring to trays of uneaten salmon and tarts that she carried back to the kitchen. At first Angela was delighted with the opportunity to binge on her rich boss’s fancy leftovers. But after four years of carrying trays she grew tired of being a peasant.

How long will it take for Angela to get invited to the ball? When will her Prince Charming come? In real life these questions have less to do with fairy tale endings and more to do with a young woman’s quest for self esteem.

“Make your own ball,” the actress says now, in an interview with United Stages that is featured in the playbill; though it took her years to muster up the ability to follow her own advice.

Angela comes from a very dark past. Her childhood was shattered at an early age, her innocence snatched at the hands of a deviant stepfather. No matter how hard Angela tries to run away from her past she still feels bound to it. At one point she realizes that she dreads walking to work to face her boss the same way she once dreaded coming home from school to face her stepfather.

Angela Madden’s story is one of resilience. She finds ways to carry on, to shed her hurt and make right what someone else made wrong. Standing alone with only a chair and table for props, Angela has very little to hide behind as she divulges disturbing details about her life. Her raw honesty makes the story especially compelling.

Like Cinderella, she spends her days waiting for someone else to whisk her away from her life, hoping a boss will fall in love with her or at least see her as an extended member of his family. Through her adventures in corporate life to her confrontations with her family we see that Angela has not experienced much to give her faith in humanity, and yet she finds beauty in the theater.

Slipping into another character proves to be Angela’s greatest escape. She can’t make a living acting but she never gives it up, even when her employers become more demanding of her time. Her talent is something the C.E.O’s can not take away from her. It is a part of her life that remains separate and untouched from the bad.

There is much more to her one-woman show than simple plot and narrative. Angela has a way of delivering her monologues that makes you feel as if you are watching something very personal. She bares her soul so fully and trustingly that you can’t help but pull yourself out of the story to admire how far the real person has come.

Angela has scaled huge obstacles to turn her childhood dreams of stage stardom into a reality. And though it clearly was not fun or fulfilling at the time; it does seem that managing millions of small details, working long, hectic hours and patiently dealing with demanding and eccentric C.E.O’s has prepared her well for a career in the theatre.

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