Get ready, everyone. Today’s 5QF involves a Beatles reference.
Maria Bartolotta is a local St. Louisan actor and singer. She earned her BFA in Musical Theatre from Southeast Missouri State University and EMC from The Old Creamery Theatre in Amana, Iowa. She has headlined in several cabarets around the area with her partner in crime Dom Thomas, as well as sings professionally for weddings and other church events. Maria has appeared in several shows with Stray Dog Theatre, most recently as Magenta in The Rocky Horror Show, as well as Jenny Steinberg in It Shoulda Been You with Take Two Productions. Maria can be seen next as Annie in Evil Dead the Musical at Stray Dog Theatre.
Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
A: I was in 7th grade, in Kirkwood Community Theatre’s Schoolhouse Rock. Yes, from “Conjunction Junction” fame. I was in the ensemble, but had a solo at the end when we talked about all the segments that weren’t done in the show – that is how I became “The Electricity Girl” – the rest is history – in my own 13 year old memory anyway. I credit that show for always remembering The Preamble.
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
A: Two things come to mind (sorry, yes I’m being THAT person) –
As an actor, read something every day, no matter how small.
You are not in competition with anyone but yourself. Don’t go into an audition thinking you have to beat everyone else out for a role, that’s not how it works. You have to go in there showing them your true authentic self and what you can bring to the table. If that’s not what they’re looking for, it doesn’t necessarily mean someone “beat” you, or you “lost”. Always strive to be better than who you were yesterday and remain teachable, that’s pretty much all that is in our control in this industry.
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.
A: So many. So many. Mostly involving me in heels because that equation never equals grace. For some reason, high school incidents are popping up in my head more, so I’ll go with one of those. It was senior year, we were doing Little Women the Musical, and I was Jo, because why wouldn’t I be, weren’t we all the Rachel Berry’s of our respective high schools? (Note- Yes. Yes, we all were. Grace) Well we were using wigs on me for the scene where I sell all my hair, and two of my friends on stage crew were supposed to help me switch the wigs super-fast. One night didn’t go so smoothly, and I end up walking out with the wig completely sideways looking like Ringo freaking Starr. If that wasn’t bad enough, the “friends” who had caused this were very audibly laughing backstage, getting a grand ol’ hoot out of this incident. So I just had to stand there looking like a GD Beatle and listen to everyone laugh at me while trying to emote at my 17 year old level of grandiose acting. So if anyone knows me and my faces, picture my “I want to laugh but also hate you with a fiery passion” face while wearing a horribly placed George Harrison wig one would get from Party City for a last-minute themed get-together.
Q: What is your dream role/show?
A: Get ready to ROLE your eyes (see what I did there? I put a bad pun in to distract from the fact that my dream role is incredibly cliché) –
Elphaba in Wicked. I’ll never stop wanting that role so badly it hurts, and you can’t make me.
Q: What is your current guilty TV pleasure?
A: I have this problem where I have a huge list of shows I need to watch, but just keep re-watching the same ones because I love them so much – currently that show is Community.
Hoping to see you ride that cherry picker one day soon, Maria!!
Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.
See her work at gracemaustin.com