Now, her friends joke, she has something to fall back on: For the role of Becky, a single-mom stripper in Erik Patterson's play Yellow Flash/Alabaster Rose at Theatre of NOTE, Jennifer Ann Evans learned some special skills, including pole-dancing (yes, she does the horizontal-slide move) and lap-dancing (just enough to for us get the, er, point). As research she went to a Beverly Hills strip club and "rented a lot of videos," including G-String Divas and Dancing at the Blue Iguana.
The result isn't exploitive. Indeed, in a play full of damaged characters groping their way toward some kind of peace, Evans' Becky stands tall as the most vital, and least hung-up, exhibit in Patterson's gallery of misfits. Her world-beating confidence particularly shines in a scene in which she tutors a tentative beginner (McKerrin Kelly); it's the most thrillingly affirmative, unembarrassed near-nude scene I've witnessed.
Evans credited the Meisner-based training she got at SUNY New Paltz with her abandon in that moment—she's too intent on connecting with Kelly's character to be self-conscious: "I'm just not thinking about myself. I'm just thrilled to have someone to talk to." The play's biggest challenge, she said, wasn't the stripping but rather "portraying the emotional challenges to their fullest extent." In her first lead role at NOTE, the radiant Evans rises to the challenge.
"Yellow Flesh/Alabaster Rose" continues at Theatre of NOTE, 1517 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m. Through Mar. 29. $15. (323) 856-8611.