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She Loves Me is playing one last week at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts in Thousand Oaks. (Sad Face). If you haven’t been able to figure out yet from my review and interview with leading man, Brandon Lloyd, how much I adored the show, here’s just another grand reason why you must RUN and grab tickets for closing weekend before this gem of a show goes away. May I present the gorgeous and hilariously talented Tiffany Asta, ladies and gentlemen!Tiffany Asta plays the charming Ilona Ritter, cashier at Mr. Maraczek’s shop, who caught my eye from the moment she first graced the stage with her sunny disposition and fantastic comedic timing and hilarious facial expressions. She is pure comedy. So pull up a chair and get to know some more about this actor who brings vitality, charm and humor to She Loves Me.

The Joyous Living – How is the song “Perspective” your work mantra (as per her short Q and A on Panic! Productions’ Facebook page)?

Tiffany – “Perspective” is my work mantra because right before the recession happened I knew that my job was going to downsize, so I made myself indispensable. I said yes to all of the jobs and projects no one wanted to do so when it came to get rid of people, they couldn’t get of me. That’s the key… always say yes!

The Joyous Living – How would you describe Ilona’s transformation from beginning to end of the show?

Tiffany – Ilona’s Transformation comes with the introduction of Amalia. Amalia is everything Ilona is not. She introduces Ilona to Books and the Symphony and inspires her to go to the library. Before, Ilona was repeating the same cycle and expecting different results, resting on her looks and charm. But, because of Amalia, she steps out of her comfort zone to find a new part of herself and while she’s at it…she finds love.

The Joyous Living – What drew you to the role of Ilona and this production of She Loves Me?

Tiffany – I had previously done How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at the Conejo Players with Miriam (Director/Choreographer). I had seen the posting on Facebook and was interested, but had never seen the show. So I messaged Miriam that I wasn’t going to be in town for the audition and she asked me to send in a video audition. Miriam messaged me and wanted me to come in for a callback after I got back into town. The callback was just me and Brandon and the production staff…talk about intimidating.

I love roles like Ilona because of her quirkiness, but her sincere vulnerability. Those characters who are so sweet and likable, but can’t catch a break…you just can’t help but root for them. I love when the audience gets behind you and you can feel their energy silently saying, “you can do it”! It’s such a rush on stage.

The Joyous Living – Do you see Ilona as a feminist of her time period?

Tiffany – I think she is at times, and sometimes not. If you look at it in the context of the time period, she’s so bold. She’s sexy, confident in her own skin, and she goes after what she wants which is very unlike the women of the period. Most women were more like Amalia. Ilona’s also very vocal about her love life, however she is very preoccupied with having a man in her life . Another funny thing I noticed about the play is that Ilona isn’t a clerk, per se. She runs the cash register. Before Amalia comes all the clerks are men. I guess that’s also a comment on the times. Women weren’t sales”men” which I think is one of the reasons why Amalia coming to the shop is so risqué. Sometimes in rehearsal we would joke that Ilona needs to “get back behind her register” instead of in the kitchen. Which is funny because Ilona can’t cook, so I guess that’s another feminist quality for her. She’s definitely not the little housewife in the kitchen.

The Joyous Living – How do you recommend keeping love alive in this modern day where letter writing is rare?

Tiffany – That’s a good question. My husband and I have been together for 8 years now and when we first got together we messaged each other through Facebook. Which is kinda cool because I have never deleted a message. So, I have a thread of every message we sent to each other when we were first getting to know each other. As for now, we text each other “I love you” just to let the other one know we are thinking of them, or we buy little gifts we see while we are out that we know the other would like for no reason. So to keep the love alive you always have to check in with the other to let them know they are important.

I hope you enjoyed this Q and A as much as I did. She truly is amazing and I reckon we’ll all be hearing she is doing big things in the near future. BTW – For those who know the musical, Anne and Gilbert, Tiffany would make a perfect Josie Pye singing “Hello, Gilbert”. O gosh, someone please produce a US version of Anne and Gilbert and cast Ms. Asta immediately!

xxThanks to Tiffany for her time and great replies! And to producer, Robert Weibezahl, for arranging the interview.