Actors sometimes tell you that life backstage is going swimmingly even when you know the truth is more nuanced. With the seven-member cast of The Babylon Line, however, I can assure you that the warm feeling has been authentic. “We genuinely like each other,” Maddie Corman told me this week, “and that’s been true since the play was done at Vassar a couple of years ago.”

Corman, who plays Anna Cantor, a student in an adult-ed writing class, revealed that the actors “stayed in touch with each other. And we did so not knowing whether we’d have a future production or not.” She added: “And the Lincoln Center Theater production has given us a chance to know each other better.” In many ways, Corman explained, “the story of the play – three Long Island housewives spending time with each other after the class itself – mirrors our lives offstage, getting to know each other in our shared dressing room.”

Corman also connected immediately with her character. “I loved her from the first,” she said. “She’s not just a silly housewife. She’s a complicated lady. This production has given me a chance to go deeper into her. Among other things, Anna shows that it’s possible to be in a miserable marriage and still find enjoyment in life – in being with your girlfriends.”

The play’s suburban setting is familiar to Corman. “I have Long Island DNA -- both my parents grew up in Woodmere. I grew up in Irvington, in Westchester, but I’m still aware of what it’s like to be close to the city but not quite part of it.” Another similarity between Corman and Cantor: “She has twins, I have twins. And I know what it’s like to bond with women in the suburbs based on motherhood and neighborhood.”

Corman said that geographic proximity is part of what joins the play’s 1967 timeframe with that of today. “There are still plenty of issues that are alive and well now,” she said. “Life in the suburbs is both wonderful and horrible. In small towns, everyone knows you – and everyone knows you.” That your neighbors are aware what’s going on in your house, Corman observed, “can be comforting as well as exhausting. One of the terrific things about The Babylon Line is that Rich” – the playwright Richard Greenberg – “includes both the good and the bad. He doesn’t comment on the suburbs directly: he shows you.”

Corman spoke highly not only of Greenberg but of Terry Kinney, the play’s director. “He’s such a fine actor himself, and he knows what actors need.” She and Kinney met thirty years ago. “We both appeared in a movie called Seven Minutes in Heaven. I played a teenager, and he played a photographer. I’d seen him onstage in the interim, but not otherwise. I’ve enjoyed having a chance to re-connect with him on Babylon.”

Inhabiting the life of Anna has been part of Corman’s recent string of playing period roles. She will be seen this summer in the new, untitled Woody Allen movie, which takes place in the 1950s, in which she is a therapist to the son of a character portrayed by Kate Winslet. And, next month, Corman will appear in “When We Rise,” an ABC miniseries, directed by Gus van Sant, about the beginnings of the modern American LGBT- rights movement. “I play Phyllis Lyon, a feminist and lesbian activist, in 1960s San Francisco. Her longtime partner was Del Martin, who’s played by Rosie O’Donnell.”

After The Babylon Line closes, on January 22, Corman said she’ll be sad to put away all the wigs and dresses from these historical productions. “But mostly I’ll be weeping in the fetal position for a few days because Babylon will be at an end. I’m so grateful for being able to work with this cast and to be at Lincoln Center. I came here as a girl to see performers, and it’s tremendous finally to be here as an actor.”

Brendan Lemon is the editor of