“Crazy in a good way” is how actress Louisa Krause describes the current state of her career.
At present, the 29-year-old is reprising the role of Rose in “The Flick,” the must-see, Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Annie Baker that returned to The Barrow Street Theater last month, with Scott Rudin producing no less. A critical hit when it was first staged in 2013 for its three-hour length and realistic dialogue, the show is again the talk of Off Broadway, attracting the likes of Wes Anderson, Sally Field and Edward Norton.
There are also her lead roles in films making the indie festival circuit, including “Jane Wants a Boyfriend,” screening at the Lower East Side Film Festival on June 19, and projects that are in the process of shooting or are in production with due dates this year and next – five at last count. She sounds manic just talking about it.
“I did say, I put it out in the world, I said, ‘I’m going to be shooting a TV show and doing ‘The Flick’ at night by the end of this run,’” says Krause, sounding vindicated, over an almond milk latte at Frisson Espresso in the theater district. It’s the way she likes it. Krause has always been a workaholic.
Growing up in northern Virginia, she landed her first professional gig when she was a sixth-grader, dancing during “Waltz of the Hours” when the American Ballet Theater performed “Coppélia” in the capitol. In high school, she was ambitious, too, taking on not only Mama Rose in “Gypsy” but the challenging role of Violet Hilton, one of the conjoined twins in “Side Show.” By her first semester at Carnegie Mellon University, she decided she’d had enough training and just up and moved to New York to start her career in earnest.
“I remember sitting with my friend Hale Appleman at a restaurant before I left, and he put a napkin out and he drew New York City. He made a grid, like OK, these are the streets, these are the avenues. Basically I came to New York with a napkin,” she recalls. “I got these young women roommates who were all bartenders at night while I was getting up early and going to the Actors’ Equity building.” Her first Equity gig: Doing summer stock in “Aida” at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine.
Ten years later, Krause has portrayed a variety of characters on the small screen, plus bit roles in “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and Jason Reitman’s “Young Adult.” But she’s just now hitting her stride — “Ava’s Possessions,” where she plays a demonic girl, made its debut at South by Southwest, and “Jane Wants a Boyfriend,” which premiered at the Greenwich Film Festival earlier this month, has her playing a young woman with Asperger’s searching for love.
“I love playing brave women,” she says. “Jane is brave, but she’s also super fragile, so there are all these sides to her that are revealed in the film. There has to be something you can hold onto with a character, because otherwise it’s just going to fade away. And I’m really interested in characters that leave a mark.”
Her indie film career has been bookended by significant Off Broadway opportunities — the world premiere of Neil LaBute’s “In a Dark Dark House” in 2007 and “The Flick,” which made its original debut at Playwrights Horizons under the direction of Sam Gold, who just picked up a directing Tony for the musical of the season, “Fun Home.”
“The magic of film is that you get to do it and do it again,” she says of the competing genres. “Theater is one take, start to finish. But you’re really living it start to finish.”
Revisiting her character — a projectionist at a failing movie theater — two years later was a welcome shift from filming. “I feel like [Rose is] a little more lively in this run of the show just because I’ve had a couple more years of life and that all has seeped into the character, which is so interesting,” she says.
Her lanky frame hunched over the table, Krause has barely touched her latte. Instead, she’s excitedly fluttering her hands as she speaks of the future, endearingly playing up the part of dramatic thespian.
“I’m, like, this vessel,” she says grandly. “I feel for all humans, so I have the ability to take on even the most unlikable character and find the humanity within them.”
As for what’s up next, Krause says she’d like to “do something on a bigger scale, just to see what that’s like. If I can do that, more opportunities will come my way.”
“But for right now,” she says, “I’m a satisfied artist and I couldn’t be happier, you know?”