The very smart, funny, and talented Nicole Pacent will grace the stage of tellofilms’s live production, I Hate Tommy Finch. The story follows two females through childhood into their thirties, and closes in on their friendship all while growing up, coming out, and getting together. All of this while having it’s very own soundtrack of songs created specifically for the play. The play stars Nicole Pacent (Stephanie) and Shannan Leigh Reeve (Alyssa).
Many of you might recognize Nicole from the talked about web-series Anyone But Me. Now you can see her up close and personal this weekend, October 14th through the 16th at Parlour, doing what she does best, acting. IHTF is a wonderfully written play with great acting and awesome music to set the scenes. If you won’t take our word then read on to see what Nicole has to say about the much anticipated play, I Hate Tommy Finch.
The L Stop: How did you get involved with I Hate Tommy Finch?
Nicole Pacent: The play sort of drew itself to us, in a sense that it was written for us, with us in mind. That was what drew me to the project, the idea of somebody writing a play for me. With my background in theatre, what better opportunity than to have a role specifically crafted for you? It’s fun to originate a role whether it was written for you or you were just cast in it. It’s fun to originate a role because it truly becomes yours. There’s no model going into, no basis of comparison to anybody. It was a huge honor, but also a great freedom of opportunity.
TLS: What’s a short synopsis of what the play is about?
NP: It’s about these two girls who are childhood best friends and end up—I think they’re both in a way each other’s saviors, in very different ways. They really rely on each other quite a bit. The play itself plays around a lot with the idea of, you know, this friendship/love line a lot of us have gone through. It follows them from age eight into their thirties. It’s fun because we get to play different ages. Not only play different ages, but also really
play their dynamic over those many years. And, all of us know about how a friendship changes, its ins and outs, disappointments, and joyful moments. It’s basically tracking the relationship of these two girls over the track of almost thirty years, and the big question is, are they or aren’t they in love? [laughs]
TLS: Would you say this play is different from anything else you’ve done before?
NP: In some ways, yes. Maybe the media aspect of it. You know, it being a play that is, also, going to be a web-series. That is a very different format. I, actually, don’t know any other play that’s been done that way. So, in that sense, absolutely. That is another thing that drew me to the project. I really like that idea of it combining those mediums, the idea of being able to bring this art to a much, much wider audience. Simply because the Internet is, I think, pretty fantastic. It might even turn people on to theatre, which would be great. So, in that sense, yes, it’s very different.
TLS: Why do you think people should go see I Hate Tommy Finch?
NP: The first thing that pops to my mind is the original music being written for it. It is fantastic! I was lucky enough to sit in on the end of a studio session with all of our musicians. They’re incredible. The stuff they are producing is incredible. And, I’ve always loved the idea of adding music as almost a soundtrack to a play versus it being an actual musical. Any plays that I have either directed or in some way helped produce in the past, music has been a big emphasis for me. So, doing basically a play with a soundtrack, which is really rare, is really awesome. And the demographic that is coming out to see the play is really going to like the music. That’s a huge part of the reason to come. Musicians, in their own right, are something to see before the entire world knows about them. It’s kind of cool to say, I saw them when. I think, overall, that the story line is something that people are going to go, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been there.’ It’s a very down to earth, real to life play.
NP: That’s hard. I don’t think it’s really even hit me yet. I pretty much saw this coming. I sort of planned for this. I think it’s had a wonderful run. I think it’s done some amazing things for people. And, I have enjoyed every minute of being a part of it. It kind of felt like it was a fitting time to end. I would say, like any other great project I have been on, I’m going to miss the people the most. A huge part of what this work comes down to is connecting with the cast and crew, and really creating a family structure out of it. At this point, in terms of Aster, Aster is so much a part of me and I’m so much a part of her that I don’t think she’s going anywhere.
TLS: You came out at the age of fifteen. What is some advice that you can give to young females out there who are closeted and afraid to come out, or just don’t know how?
NP: Wow… I think it really, really depends on the situation because the last thing I would ever want to do is give blind advice to someone who may be in a family or a community where they are, literally, at risk if they come out. I can’t pretend to speak for those people. In a situation like that, what I would say is that there are allies out there and there are ways to find help and support. Seeking those, even if it has to be on the sly, I think, is extremely important just though as not to feel that isolated, scared, and alone. In a better situation, where I came from, I would say, is again, to really, really seek allies and people who have come out who you can connect with, mentors of any kind. It becomes much easier when you have a support system. Part of the reason why I came out is because I had great examples in front of me. I had two guys in my theatre department who were out, and so happy, and wonderful, and loving people who kind of took me under their wing. It really helped me to be okay and see where I fit in to all of that.
Being gay is like a birthmark [laughs] in a way. Being gay carries a culture with it. It carries a lifestyle with it. It carries certain social fixtures with it. However, at the end of the day, it’s just who you are, another part of your personality. Honestly, there is not one second that I have ever felt like I did not want to be a part of this community. Because once you realize how awesome the gay community is and how big it is and how many people are out there to support you and love you and know that you’re totally fucking normal and that this is no different than anybody else’s characteristics, then have fun because it’s a great life. The challenges of it make you stronger and make you more aware. And, the rewards are just outstanding. Fight through the tough stuff because there is so much happiness at the end of that tunnel.
TLS: What’s an interesting fact about you that your fans might not know?
NP: Hmm…probably a lot. [laughs] In a lot of ways I’m an open book, and in a lot of way I’m not. Something not so interesting but very relevant to me, in my life right now, is that I just started learning to play guitar pretty seriously. I’m really, really excited about that because I sing and always have. I was raised singing opera and musical theatre. The past couple of years I started transitioning over to rock/folk, which is more where my heart is. So, now I’m learning guitar so I can write my own songs.
TLS: Besides the Anyone But Me series finale, do you have any upcoming projects we should be on the lookout for?
NP: Yes, absolutely I do. Space Guys in Space is what it’s called. It is a space comedy. Basically it takes place however many thousand years in the future. And, the earth has exploded. We open on the time when the colony ship that was carrying the remaining humans, also, exploded. Our series takes place in a space pod holding the last two remaining humans in the entire universe. One, of whom, is a brilliant astrophysicist and the other is the basic village idiot. So, you have that classic comic duo playing off of each other.
My character is their lone female companion. My name is G.U.S.S., which is short for Graphical User Servant Simulation. I’m A.I., artificial intelligence. My character sometimes appears as a little hologram in someone’s hand. The whole joke is that she’s created by tech engineers that haven’t actually been with a woman because they’re nerds. So, she is created to be this stereotype of what a woman is. She goes from being super in command and running the ship to being incredibly PMSy to being loving to being sexy to being back to being in charge. And, it is at the drop of a hat. So, the emotional range of the character is all over the place. And I do the wackiest shit ever. It is a side of me that no one has seen, definitely no on screen. I am, personally, very excited because I believe in this project, hugely. The actors are awesome. The writing is incredible. It’s super nerdy and fun. So, be looking out for that in the next couple of months.
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Growing up Erica knew she’d be one of two things: 1. A lesbian 2. A writer. Lucky for her, she turned out to be both! After graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Creative Writing, she moved back to the Midwest. In Chicago she found a community, a home, and her wonderful wife. Besides writing for The L Stop, Erica spends her time script writing. She hopes to, one day, write and produce good quality films and plays. If you ever see Erica around, feel free to say hi. She loves meeting new faces.