Everybody’s favorite Friday feature is back…take it away Stephanie!
Stephanie started her artistic endeavors as an instrumental musician. She spent her early years studying French horn and was a member of the St. Louis Youth Symphony orchestra and the Missouri All-State Band. She started performing onstage in her mid-twenties and is now totally hooked. Some favorite roles have included Kate Monster in Avenue Q (Take Two Productions), Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors (FMT), Ulla in The Producers (Hawthorne Players), and Annie in Evil Dead: The Musical ([insert name here] Theatre Company. By day, she is an academic psychologist; she earned her PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Michigan State University and is a tenured professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She considers herself very lucky to be able to satisfy both her scientific and artistic sides through the combination of her day job and theatre hobby, and to share a love for theatre and music with her partner, Kent Coffel.
Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
A: I had one stint in musical theatre in high school. I auditioned for my school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie. I was only a freshman, but I was an early bloomer so ended up being cast as Kim’s mom. It was fun!
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.
A: Oh gosh. A couple years ago, I was cast as Judy in a production of 9 to 5: The Musical. There’s a plot point in the first scene involving Judy’s scarf. Violet has been ordered to find a gift for her boss’s wife, and being less than enthusiastic about the task, she simply takes Judy’s scarf and gives it to the boss. The boss then gives the scarf to Doralee (who he is trying to seduce) and it goes from there. In any case, it was opening night, and midway through the opening number, I realized I had come onstage without the dang scarf! My heart absolutely stopped. There was no time to go get it. But my costume did include a cardigan, so during the applause after the number, I grabbed Violet (played by the lovely and talented Linda Walsh Ryan) and frantically whispered “No scarf! Sweater!” Thankfully for me she very quickly understood my meaning and smoothly changed her line from “Give me that scarf” to “Give me that sweater.” The other actors who interacted with the item of clothing also rolled with it, and the scenes went OK. After that, my fellow cast members instituted a “scarf check” before the show each night!
Q: What is your dream role/show?
A: I would love to take on La Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. What an awesome, powerful, messed-up, and fascinating character!
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
A: Watch yourself rehearse in a mirror or on video.” I’ve found it to be very valuable. Don’t get me wrong – I HATE doing it! It makes me horribly uncomfortable, but I give myself a million notes and then my performance ends up being much better for it. I’m very visual, so seeing what I’m doing from the audience’s perspective really helps me a lot.
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?
A: All the home renovation shows on HGTV. I can’t stop watching!
Thank you Stefanie!!!!
Grace Austin is an STL area director/educator.
See her work at gracemaustin.com.