Soprano Sue's Sightings




Maureen Van Zandt

Maureen Van Zandt plays the character of Gabriella Dante, the wife of Silvio Dante, one of the owners of the Bada Bing Club.   Besides being a talented  actor, she also has extensive dance training and is co founder of "With Out Papers" theater group, which has produced such plays as "Golden Boy", "Simpatico", "Kingdom of Earth" and "Burn This".    


"Burn This" is presently in production.    The dates are for this play are as following March 4, 5,6,8,9,10,11,12,13 at 8 pm, March 7 & 14 at 3:00 pm at the Shetler Theatre 54, 244 West 54th Street, 12 th floor, New York City.    Tickets are $15.00, Reservations can be made by calling 1-212-560-2643.  

An interview with Maureen Van Zandt
March 1, 2004

What day is your birthday?

My birthday is November 8th.  I am a true Scorpio.

You recently filmed the movie “Remedy”, tell us about your character, Wanda, in that film?

Wanda, along with her husband (played by Vincent Pastore), is a Manhattan art gallery owner. She considers herself quite avant-garde and is constantly on the lookout for the next new genius of the art world.  She's a bit of a social-climber and definitely kind of wacky in a harmless way. Crazy wardrobe, hairdo – great fun to play.

The movie, “Remedy”  filmed on location in New Jersey, do you think that state have much to offer to the motion picture industry?

There is such great variety location-wise in New Jersey. You have urban squalor, nouveau-riche gentrification, beautiful horse-and-farm country, and of course the famous Jersey shore, which is so colorful and evocative of another time – it always feels like the Fifties to me.

In “Remedy” your co star is Vincent Pastore whom you also shared the stage with in “Golden Boy”, what was the first production you both appeared in?

I first met Vinnie on The Sopranos, but we actually worked together for the first time in Golden Boy. It was an amazing experience. He is not only a great actor; his kindness and support brought our company to a new level. It was a tough production, but I don't think I've ever laughed so much, backstage – and sometimes onstage!

You have recently produced three plays, Golden Boy, Simpatico and Kingdom of Earth which all three are culturally rich, what attracts you to such plays in which the characters have such depth?

I'm an emotionally intense person, so I'm not really attracted to or interested in anything superficial, be it literature, music, art, or people. The plays our company produces have one thing in common: great writing. They are both meaningful and entertaining. We love to portray characters who have great conflicts and overcome great obstacles, people who live a bit out of society (whatever that is).

In Kingdom of Earth, you character you portrayed, had (if I remember correctly), 57 pages of dialog, how long did it take you to study it to deliver this as flawlessly as you did?   

Myrtle, my character in Kingdom of Earth actually had 96 pages of continuous dialogue, which initially scared the hell out of me. Tennessee Williams is my favorite writer and I am honored to have the opportunity to utter his words, which are not just words but the most beautiful poetry. So it was not so difficult once I stopped seeing it as "lines" and started just to tell the story. I also had two fantastic co-stars who made it easy for me.

Your new play “Burn This” tell us a little about your character Anna?    

Anna is a dancer who has reached the stage in her career where she is faced with making a transition. She ventures into choreography, only to have her best friend, roommate and lead dancer, Robbie, die in a tragic accident. Up to this point, she has led a very safe and sheltered existence. Then Robbie's brother shows up, and puts into motion a chain of events which shakes up her life, and forces Anna to put herself on the line, both artistically and emotionally.

The reviews of the previous productions of “Burn This” the descriptions I have found of the play consider it a masterpiece. Does this make your role more challenging trying to live up to this type of review?

The play is a masterpiece, and I have wanted to do it for years. I saw the original production in which Joan Allen created the role of Anna. She was brilliant and if I tried to compare myself with her, I would just give up now. I can only bring to the character what I have – in this case, maybe the fact that I have actually been a dancer all my life will be a great advantage. As for being a challenge – well, if it wasn't a challenge I wouldn't be interested in doing it. This doesn't mean I'm not terrified!

If you were stranded on a desert island and only had the choice of 3 musical compact disks and a book, what would be your choices?

My three CD's:

1) A Tchaikovsky compilation

2) Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis Bold As Love

3) The Very Best of Elvis Costello

(I'm leaving out the Beatles, because I can't choose a favorite – I love them all)

 My Book: Pleasures and Regrets by Marcel Proust

First Runner-Up: The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

What other unusual jobs have you held in the past?
Playboy bunny. No further comment.
In your acting career, what roles do you find most challenging?
I find all of Tennessee Williams' women endlessly fascinating and 
What charities are you involved in?
I support all organizations involving Animal rights, Animal rescue 
groups,  PETA, etc.

You’ve spend a good deal of your life traveling to different cities and all over the world.     What city did you find to be the most interesting? 

I absolutely love London, but I think the most magical city is Venice.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you? 

I won the New Jersey Spelling Bee when I was 12.

You are also a dancer, what is your favorite style of dancing?

Nothing comes close to ballet.

What is your special recipe for those cheese melts that Silvio so loves?

You can't use real American cheese – it has to be that gooey fake disgusting kind that has no expiration date.

What professional plans do you have in your future?

Put out a "Gabriella Dante" clothing line. Just kidding.

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Read Maureen's Bio