Jessica Hecht on coffee, travel philanthropy, and getting to India and Africa

When it comes to travel, actress and singer Jessica Hecht is all about philanthropic pursuits. In 2017, she cofounded The Campfire Project, which promotes arts-based wellness in refugee spaces that have, to date, included those in Moldova, Greece, and Ukraine. Hecht, 57, has appeared in numerous Broadway plays and musicals, and such popular TV shows as “Breaking Bad” (she played Gretchen Schwartz) and “Friends” (as Susan Bunch, the wife of Ross Geller’s ex-wife Carol Willick). She was also a featured cast member in the Jonathan Silverman sitcom “The Single Guy.” The Princeton, N.J.-born and Bloomfield, Conn.-raised award-winning actress is bringing her talents to Boston in “The Orchard,” at Emerson Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage Nov. 3-13. Boston is the first stop on a national tour after a successful run in New York City. Hecht costars with Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Latvian-born dancer and choreographer, in the play, which is based on Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.” It takes audiences into the world of an aristocratic family (Hecht’s character owns a Russian country estate — including her beloved orchard — that is about to go into foreclosure) struggling with the reality of the dismantling of their lives. She called the hybrid aspect of the show, which includes a virtual viewing option, “amazing” and lauded director Igor Golyak for his creative use of technology to “create another dimension of the theater.” We caught up with Hecht, who lives in New York City with her husband, film and TV director Adam Bernstein (with whom she has two children — Stella, 23, and Carlo, 21) and their Boston Terrier, Bruno, to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination? I know this will sound somewhat self-conscious, but I’m really just a fan of travel philanthropy. I think so much has happened to the world since I could truly afford to travel and somehow it needs to be linked to a larger purpose. I run [a nonprofit, The Campfire Project] that does wellness-based arts work in refugee camps. I have had a few remarkable trips to Greece — and most recently to Moldova — as a result.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing? I guess it depends on where I am traveling. I love coffee and I love bread, so I seek out a cafe immediately. If there’s a destination where finding coffee in the morning is somewhat complex, I’m a wreck.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I’d like to go to India and Africa. I’m very interested in seeing a school my friend Diana Kellogg created for girls in rural India, and I have other friends who were born and raised in Ethiopia and Uganda. Seeing someone’s origins is the most palpable reason to travel in my mind.

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? A small French-press travel mug … or face cream.

Aisle or window? Window, please. I like to be able to rest my head on the wall of course.

Favorite childhood travel memory? The West Hartford Jewish Community Center’s bike tour of Cape Cod. I was 14 and very proud of myself for biking such a long distance. One day I did 25 miles. I also got a crush on someone, lived in a hostel . . . all the things.

Guilty pleasure when traveling? Hotel room TV and long dinners.

Best travel tip? Almonds and face masks.


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