Today we’re talking to first time director Melissa Lueke- take it away!!
Melissa Lueke is an actress, singer, and serves as the President of Take Two Productions, here in St. Louis. She just wrapped up her run of Xanadu and is currently making her directorial debut with Peter and the Starcatcher in October with TTP.
Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
A: At 8 years old, I asked to attend a drama camp where we put on a recycling play about pieces of trash that were trying find their way from the dump (Garbage Grove) to the recycling center. All the girls wanted to be Susie the Soda Pop Bottle, and since I knew the competition would be tough, I asked if I could audition for Cedric the Cereal Box, which no one wanted. I got the part, changed the name to Celia, and got more stage time than Susie- I was a smart kid! 🙂 Oh…and not to leave anyone hanging… yes, Celia the Cereal Box DID make it to the recycling center!
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
A: Learn when to say “no”. As a lot of performers, I’m a people pleaser by nature. But I had to learn when to accept opportunities and when to say no and let someone else have a chance. Taking on a project to please someone else, or to gain a title or recognition, is not going to do me, or anyone else, any good if I can’t give 100% of myself or have the passion to drive me. Sometimes, you have to step back and let someone else have the spotlight. It’s not always easy, but I am finding that I am happier and way less stressed when I manage my decisions on what is best for me and where I’m at personally, rather than strictly based on pleasing everyone else. 🙂
Q: Tell us about a backstage on onstage mishap you lived through.
A: I played Paulette in Legally Blonde and had been working with a bulldog that played my Rufus. Well, something happened before a performance and my Rufus couldn’t make the show, so we had to find a fast replacement dog. Thankfully, we found one and were able to do some practice runs before the show- he was great! We get to his first entrance, I call for him, he starts running to me, then he hears the audience and turned right around. I ran over to get him, trying to cover the awkwardness, and walked him back on stage. We hit center stage and he decided to urinate…right where the cast is dancing in the next scene. So, I ad libbed some lines about him being excited to see me and used the paper towels I had luckily stuffed in my costume to wipe up his little accident. It was hilarious and gross all at the same time.
Q: What is your dream role?
A: I have 2: The Lady of the Lake in Spamalot and Diana in Next to Normal
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?
A: I love to watch Expedition Unknown on the Travel Channel. I am a nerd when it comes to history and solving mysteries. And any ghost investigation show…I can’t tell you why, but I get a kick out of those!
Thank you Melissa- can’t wait to see Peter and the Starcatcher!!
Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator. See her work at gracemaustin.com
**DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of THE SCENE SHOP.