Art Mimics Life of Actress/Dog Rescuer in NextStop’s ‘Lucky Stiff’

HERNDON, VA — By day, Sally Imbriano gives singing lessons and rescues abandoned puppies and dogs. At night, she rehearses for the NextStop Theater Company’s upcoming production of “Lucky Stiff.” Lately, however, the actress has found aspects of her daily life linked to what she does in the evenings.

“Lucky Stiff” tells the story of Harry Witherspoon (Ben Ribler), an unassuming British shoe salesman whose boring life is turned upside down when his uncle dies and leaves him a fortune.

Imbriano plays Annabel Glick, who is both Witherspoon’s foil and the show’s romantic interest.

“He has to do a series of actions to earn that $6 million,” she said. “If he doesn’t do those actions, I’ll do the action on behalf of this dog house and get the $6 million.”

With “dogged” determination, Annabel follows Witherspoon from place to place, making sure he follows all the rules and takes all the prescribed actions. If not, she will step in, do the task and claim the money.

“I love that about the character, because she’s so driven by her work that she wouldn’t let herself fall in love with anyone,” Imbriano said. “But because of work, it forces him to follow this guy. It’s kind of an accident.”

With “Lucky Stiff”, Imbriano has also found a character she identifies with.

“My character, in particular, I love because she’s very competitive and very work-oriented,” she said. “That’s a lot like who I am as a person. You don’t catch me at a lot of social events, but if it has to do with work, I’ll be there, so I had that kind of kinship with her.”

Another point of kinship is the love of animals. During the pandemic, Imbriano began working with A Forever Home Rescue Foundation take in abandoned puppies and dogs.

As animal rescue has become a welcome escape for Imbriano during the pandemic, she hopes the comedy “Lucky Stiff” will provide audiences with a way to escape their troubles.

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“I think people need an excuse to laugh and there are so many incidents happening on stage that are planned – nobody gets hurt or anything, but there are a lot of different laughs” , she said. “The characters are sort of enhanced versions of themselves, where they get more laughs than maybe if we had played it as a natural play.”

As someone who grew up in Reston, Imbriano had seen many NextStop performances and auditioned for as many roles. Finally, she was cast in “Matilda” in 2019, which led to a directing gig and the start of a great working relationship with the company.

“This show kind of illustrates that you can only live in fear for so long, and sometimes you have to embrace life for what it is rather than worrying about what it might be,” said Imbriano.

“Lucky Stiff” runs from May 19 through June 12 at the NextStop Theater, located at 269 Sunset Park Drive in Herndon. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Ticket information and show times are available online.

“Lucky Stiff” by Lynn Aherns and Stephen Flaherty

Director: Robert Mintz

Producer Art Director: Eva

Cast: Ben Ribler, Sally Imbriano, Chris Rudy, Candice Shedd-Thompson, Michael Reid, Sydney Johnson, James Mernin, Chris Rios, Carolyn Burke and Jeremy Crawford.