“She understands the tone of storytelling very well and can throw herself into that, whatever it is,” the director, Knud Adams, said. “With confidence comes that transformational fearlessness where she knows what needs to be served and dives in headfirst.”
Both collaborators referenced Beans’s presence, onstage and off, with Vaill noting that “the performance is happening before you even realize it’s a performance,” and Adams, who said the role was hers as soon as she expressed interest, praising Beans as seeming “boundless in what she can take on.”
That limitlessness is a trait that also comes through in conversation, even if Beans is unaware of it, half-joking that she was grateful that she’d had no faith in herself for her “Skin of Our Teeth” audition.
“I got the audition through Lileana, because we’d worked together quite a bit, and she’s a friend,” explained Beans, who has appeared in several Off Broadway productions directed by Blain-Cruz, including “Anatomy of a Suicide” and “Marys Seacole.” “I read the play and, I’m going to be honest with you, thought, ‘OK, this play is weird, but this part! How are they going to cast someone who’s not famous?’ It made me go into the audition with a lot of freedom, so I did the craziest version I possibly could. It empowered me to make really big choices, and I felt free in a way I’d never felt before as an actor.”
Blain-Cruz said she first starting “keeping tabs” on Beans after seeing her in a non-equity showcase production of Sam Shepard’s “Curse of the Starving Class” at Williamstown Theater Festival in 2017, and has since cast her in four productions.
“I was excited, but not sure, about Gabby for ‘Skin,’ because it is such a particular role,” Blain-Cruz said. “But she came in and blew it out of the water. Her alacrity with language is stunning, and her moving the character between an exhausted lady-of-the-stage into this zany character voice revealed somebody who is willing and bold enough to go full-tilt.”
The director noted that, along with the other productions on which they’ve collaborated (including “Girls” at Yale Repertory Theater), Beans has excelled at “existing in different realities and times.” Blain-Cruz commended her as a “dramaturgically intelligent actor” who has become her muse, and whose “humor and intensity” she believes would perfectly suit a Yorgos Lanthimos film like “The Lobster.”