Cast / Characters
In animation the dialogue track comes first. It is much easier to lip-synch the picture to the voice than the other way around. Also, the nuances of the actors' voices help Signe as she animates the characters.
Our project is only as good as our actors. Getting the best means hiring SAG-AFTRA actors. Going union for an animated feature film is an expensive proposition, so we ran a Kickstarter campaign and 1,562 backers came through providing us with the means to create the complete dialogue track.
Our 29 actors brought more to the project than we expected and we are thrilled with the final soundtrack. Good thing, too, because we have to listen to their voices over and over again as we work frame by frame matching images to the sound.
Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
Let's Meet the Actors!
Dagmara Dominczyk as Zelma
Full of wonder, Zelma is on a journey to discover who she is. Born in Latvia when it was still under the constraints of the Soviet Union, she navigates the murderous labyrinth of love and marriage from ages 7 to 30. She persists because she believes that only True Love can make her complete.
In Dagmara Dominczyk we found a perfect match of actor and character. In addition to her immense talent and many film and theater credits, Dagmara was born in Poland and has a thorough understanding of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Her novel The Lullaby of Polish Girls is published by Random House.
Michele Pawk as Biology
Biology is a non-human character, who comments on Zelma's brain activity as she falls in and out of love. Some of the processes of falling in and out of love are chemically very complex, which excites Biology, even when Zelma is not so happy.
Michele Pawk has starred in 11 Broadway musicals and plays. She won the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in Hollywood Arms by Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton.
Trio Limonāde as The Mythology Sirens
The Mythology Sirens are shape-shifting creatures who exert enormous pressures on Zelma to conform to traditional social standards of femininity. To make their directives more appealing they sing them in 3-part harmony.
To play the Sirens we cast the Latvian singing group Trio Limonāde. Iluta Alsberga, Ieva Katkovska and Kristīne Pastare started singing together in 2009 and have performed as the Trio ever since, collaborating with the best known musicians in Latvia.
Composer Kristian Sensini’s harmonies for the 23 Siren songs are difficult, but hauntingly beautiful as sung by Limonāde. Signe gets chills when she animates the visuals to them.
Cameron Monaghan as Sergei
Sergei is Zelma's first husband. In the face of overwhelming feelings of love along with his newly realized mortality, Sergei constructs his own special worldview that puts his marriage with Zelma in jeopardy.
Cameron Monaghan has stared as Ian Gallagher in 9 seasons of Shameless on Showtime. His many other TV and film roles include the series Gotham on Fox.
Matthew Modine as Bo
Bo is Zelma's second husband, a Swedish artist and an incurable romantic who harbors a deep, dark secret. He meets Zelma right after the fall of the Soviet Union when East and West can finally mix for the first time.
Matthew Modine has made almost 80 feature films and TV series including Full Metal Jacket, Birdy and season one of Stranger Things. He and his producing partner Adam Rackoff are the Executive Producers of My Love Affair With Marriage.
Stephen Lang as Jonas
Jonas is an award-winning artist who offers to share his bohemian lifestyle with Zelma in return for a one-night stand.
Stephen Lang has had a long, distinguished career in both theater and film. He played Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar and will be reprising the role in Avatar 2, Avatar 3
and Avatar 4.
Linda Leen sings the Closing Credits Song
Linda Leen, a Latvian international star, will sing an as-yet-to-be-composed song over the closing credits.
Linda also plays Elita in the Latvian version of My Love Affair With Marriage and sings Elita's Song.
Linda Leen is one of Latvia's best known singing artists. She performs in both Latvian and English drawing large crowds at her concerts.
Erica Schroeder as Elita
Elita is the most popular girl in Zelma's class. She is an expert on how to be the perfect girl that boys would like. Singing a beautiful song, Elita convinces the socially awkward Zelma to follow her instructions.
Erica Schroeder is an actress, singer and accomplished voiceover artist specializing in animation, English-language Anime and video games.
Emma Kenney as Sarma
Sarma, Zelma's older sister tries to boss the free-spirited Zelma around, but her loud words have little impact.
Emma Kenney started acting at age 5. Since 2011 she has played Debbie Gallagher on the Showtime comedy/drama series Shameless. She also played Harris, Roseanne's granddaughter in the one-season revival of Roseanne on ABC.
Anna O'Donoghue as Teacher 1
Teacher 1 is a disciplinarian. In the Soviet Union it was thought that by continuously criticizing students' flaws, they would be motivated to correct them.
Anna O'Donoghue performs Off-Broadway and in regional theater. She is a graduate of the famed Julliard theater program.
Clyde Baldo as Eduards
Eduards, the schoolyard bully, has a pack of younger boys following him about. He doesn't have the confidence to lead kids his own age.
Clyde Baldo has been in many plays, films and TV shows. He is the only actor to be in more than one Signe Baumane film. He voiced the Baby in her 2009 animated short Birth.
Najla Said as New Girl
New Girl offers her friendship to Zelma. What she does not expect is rejection from the lowest of the low.
Najla Said is a writer and performer. Her one-woman play Palestine was directed by our Co-Producer Sturgis Warner in 2010 and had a lengthy, sold-out Off-Broadway run. From her play she wrote a memoir, Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family, which is published by Penguin Books.
Florencia Lozano as
Zelma's Mother is concerned for Zelma's future. She believes that restraint and submission are the best strategies for a woman to succeed in the world.
Florencia Lozano is an actress and playwright, best known as Téa Delgado on One Life to Live. Her plays have been produced Off-Broadway and she is a key member of Labyrinth Theater Company.
Dan Domingues as Lauris
Lauris, a high school senior, tests 16-year old Zelma's appreciation for kissing and her appetite for more.
Dan Domingues is a much-in-demand theater actor known for his excellent character work. He is an associate artist with the investigative theater company
Keith Randolph Smith as
Man on Train.
Man on Train is a self-proclaimed connoisseur of female beauty. Complimenting 15-year old Zelma makes him feel manly.
Keith Randolph Smith was recently in the highly acclaimed cast of Jitney on Broadway. He is a favorite with playwrights gracing new scripts with his deep, golden voice.
Ruby Modine as Nina
Nina, Sergei's moody mother, expects only beauty and perfection from her 8-year old son.
Ruby Modine is an actress and singer. She is in her third season playing Sierra on Showtime's Shameless.
Carolyn Baeumler as Darya.
Darya is Zelma's best friend in college. She is on a quest to find spirituality through drugs and parties.
Carolyn Baeumler performs regionally and Off-Broadway. While recording Darya she was also making her Broadway debut in The Price.
Christina Pumariega as Darya's Mother
Following the customs of her rural village, Darya's Mother lets the whole world know of her grief and remorse.
Christina Pumariega works regularly Off-Broadway and regionally. She made her Broadway debut in Teresa Rebeck's Seminar.
Tracy Thorne as
Master of Ceremonies 1
Master of Ceremonies 1 is a Soviet official who performs assembly-line funerals. She is very efficient and enjoys her position of authority.
Tracy Thorne is an actress, playwright, screenwriter and accomplished voiceover artist.
Laila Robins as
Master of Ceremonies 2
Master of Ceremonies 2 is a Soviet
official who performs assembly-line marriages. She enjoys reminding newlyweds that with marriage their private lives belong to the State.
Laila Robins is Latvian-American and a busy theater, TV and film actress. She has won a Drama Desk Award and an Obie Award in theater.
Cindy Cheung as Velta
Velta opens an art gallery just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. She sees potential in Zelma's art, but is concerned about Zelma's survival in the turmoil of post-Soviet Latvia.
Cindy Cheung studied to be a computer engineer, but became a successful actress instead. She works steadily in film, TV and theater.
Tanya Franks as Teacher 2
Teacher 2 has an authoritarian streak. She believes that the most effective method of teaching is putting her pupils down.
Tanya Franks is an acclaimed English actress, writer and producer most known for her starring roles on television including EastEnders and Family Affairs.
Brian Dykstra as Estonian 1
Andrew Garman as Estonian 2
The Estonians are two rascals who get a rise out of testing the boundaries of politeness and decorum. Then they run into Zelma.
Brian Dykstra is an actor, playwright and spoken word poet. He recently played Pete Rose in the new play Banned From Baseball at the Human Race Theatre.
Andrew Garman is an in-demand theater actor working on Broadway, Off-Broadway and regionally. In theater he has won a Drama Desk Award and a Lucille Lortel Award.
Dale Soules as
Latvian Official is the bureaucrat in charge of marriage permits in the newly independent Latvia. She is sympathetic to Zelma and Bo's urgency to marry, but has to follow the rules.
Dale Soules has had a prolific career on Broadway and Off-Broadway in both plays and musicals, including the original Broadway production of Hair. She currently plays Frieda Berlin on Orange Is the New Black.
Michael Laurence as Big Man
Sturgis Warner as Big Man's Friend
Big Man and Big Man's Friend are self-imposed Guardians of Morals after the breakup of the Soviet Union. They look to terrorize anyone whose public displays of behavior deviate from "The Norm".
Michael Laurence is an actor and playwright working on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in the regions. He recently played Curtis "Caddy" Deville for two seasons on NBC's Shades of Blue.
Sturgis Warner was recently in the stage adaptation of Babettes Feast, first at Portland Stage in Maine then
Off-Broadway in New York.
Jennifer Dorr White as Swedish Pastor.
Swedish Pastor gives the blessings of the church to the marriage of Zelma and Bo. The newlyweds hope that they and their union are now purged of all sins.
Jennifer Dorr White is an Off-Broadway and regional theater actress. She played newscaster Juliana McKannis for five years on The Onion News Network.
As if it weren't challenging enough to make an animated feature film in one language, we are making My Love Affair With Marriage in two. One in English, the other, Mans laulību projekts (My Marriage Project), in Latvian.
Since this is a Latvian-USA production, we felt it important to make a Latvian language version specifically for Latvian audiences. It will be the exact same film, with Latvian voices precisely lip-synced.
Casting director Anete Vanaga made a who's-who list of Latvian actors and after a careful auditioning process, Signe made her choices. With a great theater tradition, it was no surprise that Latvia has so many talented actors.
The business of acting is quite different in Latvia. Plays are usually performed a few times a month, but their runs can last several years. Actors are often performing in multiple plays at multiple theaters. Guna Zarina has 10 plays in her personal repertoire this season. She loves the variety it affords her. Kaspars Znotiņš is performing in 13. Scheduling must be a nightmare, but everybody seems to work it out.
Laura Čaupale as Zelma and Guna Zariņa as Biology
There are no unions for actors in Latvia. Most negotiate with producers on their own. Agents are just now starting to break into the scene. Established actors have mostly stayed away from agents not wanting to upset the relationships they already have with producers.
Edgars Samītis as Sergei and Dainis Grūbe as Bo.
For My Love Affair With Marriage, we hired one actor for each role because the SAG-AFTRA rules stipulate that an actor must be paid one-day's fee for each role they play. We wanted to spread the wealth around the New York theater community, so we hired as many actors as we had roles. With Mans laulību projekts there were no union rules to comply with and we found it more efficient to have actors record multiple roles in a single session. 6 of our Latvian actors played more than one role, some as many as four!
Regīna Razuma, Zane Daudziņa, Indra Burkovska
Kaspars Znotiņš, Ģirts Ķesteris, Juris Kalniņš
When she was 17, Signe passionately wanted to become an actress. She took a preparatory class for the entrance auditions at The Latvian State Conservatory. One of the students was the impressively talented Ģirts Ķesteris, center. The Conservatory accepted Ģirts and he went on to become one of Latvia's top actors. Signe failed to make the cut, which broke her heart. She moved on to study Philosophy and later went into animation. Sometimes the Fates give us the bad before they turn it into good.
As an animator, Signe doesn't direct actors very often, but directing 29
English speaking actors and then 14 Latvian actors was a transformative experience for her. She loved the challenge of finding the characters with each actor. With the Latvian actors, however, she did not have to explain what it meant to live in the Soviet Union and what post-Soviet Latvia was all about.
Ieva Puķe, Katrīne Pasternaka, Madara Botmane
It was an honor for us to work with 43 talented actors.