Today we’re talking to one of St Louis’s most famous faces- Zoe Vonder Harr!
Zoe is a local actress who toured in First International Company of A Chorus Line for two years before returning to St. Louis to raise her family. She has since performed in over 100 productions and teaches dance, choreographs and directs at several schools. She is also a member of The American Musical and Winter Wonderland casts that perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall.
Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
A: I started dancing school at 3. We had recitals at the American Theater. I guess that was my first stage exposure. I grew up in Webster Groves and their community theater had a children’s theater class. I think my first real part was Pinnochio. I was 7. I remember losing my voice and having the doctor come to my house (yes, a house call!). I can’t remember the diagnosis, but it turned out happily.
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
A: My senior year at Nerinx Hall, (now no one has to ask where I went to high school) we did Fiddler on the roof. I was a dancer/singer. I wanted the part of the dancing daughter, or at least the singing mother. When I was cast as Yente, I was devastated! A speaking role with no song or dance! I thought I had failed. My teacher, and mentor, Jim Paul, taught me about the puzzle pieces involved in casting. Yes, I could have played either of those roles, but I was needed in the puzzle as the matchmaker. And thus began my love and appreciation for the character actress. I’ve been playing old ladies for a long time!
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.
A: Two come to mind that I love. One was during 42nd Street at Stages St. Louis. It was during the number “Dames” where the ladies paraded in beautiful gowns. I always held the curtain for Kari Ely center stage at the end of the number. Well, we are good friends and we were hugging before she was to make her grand entrance. However, someone’s broach got caught on someone’s costume and we could not get them apart. There was real panic and terror as the problem lingered on and the cue approached. We truly were like Lucy and Ethel trying to figure out how to solve this problem. I’m not sure how, but I guess the theatre gods had their laugh and released out connection truly ing the nick of time. The other was also at Stages during the show Mame. I played Mame and was on stage sitting on s set of steps with Graham Kostic who was probably 11 or so at the time. I played his auntie and we were singing “My Best Girl” to each other. For some reason, we lost power in the theater. He looked at me and I smiled and winked and he continued singing the rest of the song without missing a beat. It’s a song about none ever taking each others place in our hearts even after growing up. I usually got teary-eyed anyway, but I might have totally lost it this day. And then we had to end the show. What an finale!
Q: What is your dream role?
A: Other than my ongoing favorite role as grandma to Reille and Bentlie, I’m not sure that I really have one. I’ve been blessed in my career to have played Mama Rose, Dolly and Mame. The trifecta of leading ladies. My dream is just to continue working. I love being able to perform and find new roles to explore and work with other amazing people, who I continue to learn from.
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?
A: I have such a weird schedule, so it’s usually Netflix binging. I love PBS period series, or anything historical (Turn), Civil war related (Glory is favorite movie). Latest binge is House of Cards.
Thank you SO much, Zoe!!!!! Join us again next Friday for another St. Louis theatre face!
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.