Jane Alderman finds success in 'Superior Donuts'

Like a lot of thesps now appearing on Broadway, Jane Alderman has a long string of film, TV and stage credits.

Which wouldn’t be notable — except that most of those credits are for casting.

Alderman, who has a featured role in “Superior Donuts” as a dotty senior citizen named Lady, began her career as an actor, but has spent most of her life as a prominent casting director in Chicago, where she did Windy City casting for all the seasons of “ER.” She also lists films “The Flags of Our Fathers,” “Rudy” and “Backdraft”; TV’s “Early Edition”; and the national tours of “Evita” and “Merrily We Roll Along” among the projects for which she’s chosen actors.

Thirty years ago, in the wake of a divorce and after she didn’t prove grandly successful at acting, Alderman decided to turn to something with more long-term stability.

“I was really an awful actor,” Alderman says. “So the idiot in me said, ‘Oh, I’ll cast,’ as if that’s not as tenuous as acting.”

She says she found herself acting every day as she read scenes with the thesps she was auditioning. And she imagines she picked up a few acting lessons by watching the pool of Chicago actors she regularly worked with John Malkovich,Gary Sinise and Laurie Metcalf, to name a few.

A fluke 2002 stint in “The Vagina Monologues” reignited Alderman’s interest in acting, and she started auditioning again. Initially, she says, it was a little weird showing up to compete with a group of actors she knew from her time on the other side of the table.

“I was aware that when I showed up at an audition, the actors who were my competition would freak out,” she says.

But people got used to it pretty quickly, according to Alderman. A couple of years ago, she decided to retire from casting, but kept heading out on auditions — including the one for “Donuts,” in which she appeared at the Steppenwolf in Chicago before it brought her to Gotham to make her Broadway debut.

“I still cannot believe I am doing this,” she says with a laugh. “Here I am, Grandma Moses!”

Kooky kabuki

The Japanese have a thing for modern-day tuners.

The nation was one of the first international markets to show a strong interest in Broadway-style musicals back in the 1980s, and a recent visit to Tokyo showed subways plastered with ads for “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aida” and “Cats,” among other shows.

But a couple of Kabuki actors — brothers Shinichiro and Kantaro Nakamura, familiar to New York auds who caught performances of the Heisei Nakamura-za company at Lincoln Center — are among a group of performers working to boost the profile of traditional Japanese music-theater performances.

Heisei Nakamura-za played Gotham as part of the Lincoln Center Fest in both 2004 and 2007, and the troupe is on tap to return to the annual summer international theater showcase in 2012.

In the meantime, the pair recently toured Japan as part of a bill of old-school fare that included Taiko drumming, shamisen music and a new Kabuki piece starring the brothers. And when the evening’s final seg combined the drumming, the shamisen and the Kabuki — normally performed as separate disciplines — they got a little Broadway in their ancient art form.

“In traditional Kabuki, we don’t count out beats, but for this we had to,” Shinichiro Nakamura says. “Suddenly it’s more like a musical.”

While both brothers were reared in the centuries-old Nakamura clan, they don’t shy from contempo fare. Next up: a Kabuki zombie play called “Oedo Living Dead.”

Can’t wait for the Gotham transfer.

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