After years of anticipation, Lauren Ash and Rory O’Malley’s debut album “Full Circle” is finally here. The two artists reveal the story behind their first single, “Party Aunt.”
Lauren Ash and Rory O’Malley on the Full Circle Moment of Joining Chicago Party Aunt is a blog post about the experience of joining Chicago Party Aunt.
This weekend, the first eight episodes of Chicago Party Aunt premiere on Netflix, bringing a unique animated comedy to the streaming site. Diane Dunbrowski (Lauren Ash), a hard-partying, passionately devoted woman from Chicago, and the connections she has with her friends, family, and colleagues are the focus of the series. Daniel (Rory O’Malley), Diane’s nephew, chooses to take a gap year before college to figure out who he is, and does so by moving in with his aunt. While the program’s premise was born on Twitter, in the form of comedian Chris Witaske’s long-running Twitter account, the Netflix show takes the notion and runs with it, with its ensemble cast helping to produce some memorable and emotional moments.
In preparation for the premiere of Chicago Party Aunt, we talked with Ash and O’Malley about their work on the show, the program’s approach to Chicago culture, and the strain of bringing a cult-favorite character to life.
: How has it been for Lauren to play a character with such a unique voice in the minds of her fans? Because I know that when I read CPA’s tweets, your voice is a close match to the one I heard in my mind.
Lauren Ash (LA): Oh, that’s fantastic. Thank you very much for your kind words. This means a great deal to me. It’s a lot of fun. Because I lived in Chicago for a few of years and did the Second City Mainstage there, that Twitter account followed me when it first began. And it was so amusing that I naturally followed back, thinking to myself, “I must know this guy.” So I began sending DMs saying things like, “What’s your name? What’s going on behind the scenes? “I then erased it because I didn’t want to spoil the enchantment, and this is not a joke. “I want to think she’s a genuine woman,” I said.
So it was a full circle moment when my friend Jon Barinholtz disclosed to me that the Twitter account was run by Chris Witaske, and that the two of them, together with Katie Rich, were developing it into a program. I let out a scream. “Oh my God, of course!” I said. Then I was like, “I want to be her,” and I’m really grateful they allowed me.
Throughout the season, the relationship between Daniel and Diane shows brightly. How did you come upon that particular dynamic? Did you ever have a chance to record together, or was it all done separately due to COVID? Because the program itself has a strong sense of family.
Because of COVID, it was separated. Rory O’Malley: I essentially had to learn how to be an amateur sound engineer in order to record all of the episodes in my garage. That was certainly difficult. However, we’ve all found out how to get through the past year and stay in touch through video. So having that connection with Lauren and the actors via reading the script and hearing each other’s voices and performances while recording made it a lot simpler.
The program is jam-packed with allusions to the city of Chicago. Were there any that caught you off guard, either because they were so precise and you knew who they were, or because you didn’t?
Ash: It never fails to astound me how deep the cuts can go, as well as how precise the animation is. I was thinking, “Wow,” when they showed Gibsons “Oh, my goodness! That’s how it seems to be!” As someone who has lived in and loves Chicago, it was a real pleasure for me. That, I believe, is the sort of wonderful dichotomy: there will be folks who adore Chicago and who will be thrilled by these Easter egg-like things. People who don’t know anything about Chicago, on the other hand, will receive a genuine crash course, which is fantastic.
But there was always something in each episode that made me giggle, because I was like, “I can’t believe they’ve gotten that in there!” But, you know, here we are. We’ve arrived.
What do you hope viewers, both those who are from Chicago and those who have never visited, would take away from the show?
O’Malley: I hope kids understand that the Midwest tradition is centered on family celebrations, and that extended family is very important. An aunt’s connection with a nephew or niece is unique, and it’s a different type of love story. And I hope that everyone understands how essential the relationship between aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews is.
On Friday, September 17th, the first eight episodes of Chicago Party Aunt will be available on Netflix.
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