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Ossining's Gulian Shines in Pleasantville Production

Ossining actress, singer and songwriter Ann Gulian is starring in "Awake and Sing!"

Ossining singer-songwriter Ann Gulian is once again making headlines with her latest theatre performance.

Gulian is currently starring in the revival production of Awake and Sing! at Pleasantville's Axial Theatre. The play is set in The Bronx during the Depression. The story focuses on an impoverished family whose parents try to manipulate their children for their own benefit. Meanwhile, the children continue to try to pursue their own dreams.

Gulian, who has traditionally been a singer-songwriter, told Patch how she made the transition from music to the theatre.

"I took my first acting class about eight years ago. I am originally a jazz vocalist as well as songwriter and thought an acting class might spark something new in my approach to songs," said Gulian. "I went online and saw HM Acting Studio advertised in Pleasantville and made the call. I remember my first class with Rachel Jones. She had us lying on the floor to relax and I thought to myself, 'I'm home.'"

Gulian shines in the play's lead role as Bessie Berger, the family's matriarch. Her character works tirelessly to keep her family afloat, while making sure it's done her way. Gulian talked about the uniqueness of her new role.

"The obvious differences in Bessie Berger and other roles I've played are external. The Bronx accent, the way Bessie carries herself, living through the Great Depression and her big, vocal presence. I love Bessie because she loves her family fiercely, but in her own way. Some of my other roles have been more feminine or proper. As a woman and mother, it's been an interesting journey to see the world through her eyes."

Many people who see the Depression-era play draw comparisons to the situation that many families are dealing with in today's depressed economy.

"What most surprised me about this play is how timeless it is. This play deals with big ideas, defining democracy, surviving economic hardship and of course family dynamics. It is so pertinent to what is currently happening with a presidential election…and the dialogue that is taking place regarding this. I think the play raises questions that need to be asked."

"Awake and Sing!" continues every Thursday through Sunday until November 4. Showtime is at 8 p.m., except on Sundays when shows begin at 4 p.m. For more information you can visit Axial Theatre's website.

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