Today we’ll be talking with Laura Ackerman, a St Louis and Broadway theatre veteran!!
A native St. Louisan, Laura Ackermann began her professional career at The Muny Opera where she performed in 36 shows over 16 seasons. Laura has worked for The New Jewish Theater, Stages St. Louis, The Avalon Theater Company, Ozark Actors Theater and Bluff City Theater to name a few. In younger days, she was a member of the Broadway Company of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Laura has performed in dozens of other productions around the country including touring companies, stock, dinner theater and Repertory. She had a lovely little scene with George Clooney in Up In The Air, which mostly ended up on the cutting room floor. And has had a MoBap commercial running for the last 3 years. She is the former Dance Director of the Show Me Arts Academy, is currently choreographing Lion King Jr. for Nipher Middle School and is about to begin a run of Menopause the Musical, where she will reprise the role of Earth Mother. Laura is a member of Actors Equity Association and SAG/Aftra. Her favorite job is Mom to Allison and Grammy to Braeden.
Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
A: As an audience member, my parents took us to see every movie musical that came along and of course, the free seats at The Muny. My Mom would put together a picnic, doll us up in our best summer dresses and take us to see as many shows as possible. But my first performing experience was in the dancing chorus of The Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Youth’s production of My Fair Lady. The first time somebody actually paid me to perform was in Miss Kitty’s Saloon at 6 Flags.
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
A: Don’t take rejection personally.
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.
A: In 1979, I joined the Broadway Company of THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS as the new swing. After only one day of rehearsal, I went on for the role of Ruby Rae. Hadn’t touched that part yet, but I had learned all the chorus numbers, so I was on. I got the word as the Stylist was chopping more than a foot off my hair. Wardrobe hadn’t had time to pull any costumes for me, so it was a real scramble to find things to wear, as I was by far the shortest person in the show. During the 2nd act, I was wearing a strapless evening gown that was being held together by pins. I’d never even been on the second level of the set, so when the black out came, I made a dash for the exit stairs. Unbeknownst to me, there was one step between me and that exit. I fell flat on my face and the girl behind me fell on top of me. When the lights came up, we were partially hanging off the platform, holding on for dear life. The other girl managed to scramble up and grabbed the back of my gown to save me. Unfortunately, she yanked the gown down past my knees in the process. I was wearing tights underneath. Just tights. The audience went absolutely wild. I picked up my gown, gave a quick nod to the screaming crowd and made my exit. The Crew gave me a standing ovation backstage, complete with catcalls and whistles. When I came out for the curtain call, the audience roared. That was a performance I will never forget. By the way, that was the matinee. I went on as Beatrice in the evening show. Didn’t realize till I was getting dressed to leave, they had used the denim skirt I’d worn to work that day as one of my costumes. Only they had cut it from calf length to micro mini. I wore the trumpet player’s extra jeans home that night. Played 5 different parts that week. There’s no business like Show Business !
Q: What is your dream role/show?
A: Hmmm. There are so many to choose from. Maybe Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie.
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?
A: Good Behavior on TNT. Absolutely love it !
Thank you Laura!!!!
Grace Austin is an STL area educator and director.
See her work at gracemaustin.com