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Micropolis: Before the Curtain Rises

Before they hit the stage, Broadway actors can often be found cocooned in their makeup rooms. But, what exactly do they do in there?

We located Amy Morton, who plays Martha in “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” in her makeup room the other day, just about an hour before showtime. She says like all superstitious performers, she avoids ever mentioning "that Scottish play" by name. (Folks, that would be “Macbeth.”) She also tends to work on crossword puzzles, to pass the time, but there's one thing she really obsesses over.

“I will not go on stage unless I have clean teeth. I have to have clean teeth to do a show,” she explained. “Otherwise I feel I can't even talk. I feel like I can't get my mouth around the words. That's just a thing with me.”

Her co-star, Tracy Letts, who plays the part of George, took a nap in his makeup room. After he woke-up, he said he likes to rehearse certain passages of the script before he goes on stage, especially those dealing with science.

He also wonders whether the role is starting to burrow its way into his real-world self.

“I lost my temper here in the hallway the other night. We had a malfunction on stage, and I rather childishly lost my temper backstage,” Letts said. “I'm not really a tantrum-thrower by nature, but I did find myself hurling a vacuum cleaner sort of through the red mist, in front of my eyes. So I'd like to blame George for that more than I'd like to take the blame for it myself.

Edward Albee's “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf” is currently playing at the Booth Theatre.

To see more backstage photos from the production, visit Micropolis: NYC.