Five Question Friday

April Strelinger has my favorite answer to question #1 EVER- take a look!

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April Strelinger is a professional actor in St. Louis (her hometown…Before you ask, her high school was Incarnate Word Academy). Since moving back to St. Louis, April has enjoyed working with a variety of theaters around town. Most recently she performed First Date at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City and Seussical at Stages St. Louis. This summer she was seen in the Muny’s production of All Shook Up and A Chorus Line. She will finish the summer returning to Stages for South Pacific. Spare time activities include yoga, occasional work as a board certified Health Coach, pretending to be an adult (and generally succeeding) with her husband, Richard, and son, Will. When not on stage she can be seen and imbibing copious amounts of coffee and tea while reading big books and snuggling with her pets.

 

Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

Firefly #1 in my elementary school’s Christmas play. I sang “This Little Light of Mine” and had a yellow balloon taped to my butt… It was a very method performance.

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

This business is made up of 7 people and a bunch of mirrors. Meaning: that although the theatre community feels big it’s really small so be respectful and professional to everyone. You never know when you’ll meet again or who someone knows.

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

I once did a show in full cat makeup. I was given facial wipes to take off the makeup in between shows but my throat got itchy and my eyes started to swell. I realized soon afterward that the wipes contained corn (I’m allergic)…so I took 2 Benadryl and a double shot of espresso to get through the second show. However, I have no recollection of what happened on stage or came out of my mouth for that show!

Q: What is your dream role?

Queenie in Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party or I’d love to reprise my role of Dot in Sunday in the Park With George

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

The Walking Dead. The character development is so much fun to watch and I love anything post-apocalyptic.

 

Thank you Firefly #1!

 

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

Five Question Friday

Happy Friday from The Scene Shop and Kendra Moore!!

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Kendra Moore is an actress, singer, and dancer originally from Seattle. She had her first role in St. Louis before her first apartment. #Priorities. Over the last several years Kendra has worked with Take Two Productions, Stray Dog Theatre, Hard Road Theatre, and Ignite Theatre Company. Some of her career favorite roles include Christine Daaé in Phantom of the Opera, Meg March in Little Women, and Dainty June in Gypsy. By day Kendra is a Chemical Engineer at Phillips 66 Oil Refinery.

Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

My first show was a 2 week summer camp in Seattle when I was 8 years old. It was called 12 Dancing Princesses. I was Princess #11. I danced. I wore a blue sequined ballgown. It was everything I could ever want in a show.

 
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

“Why not? The answer is already no.” Gary Bell said this one day at Funny Girl rehearsal, probably not thinking it would stick with me. I like this advice because it applies equally well to auditioning for a dream role or asking your boss for a raise. Why not go for it? You’ve got nothing to lose.

 
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

In high school I played an ugly stepsister in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. One show the stepmother got suddenly ill after the first scene. We did the entire second act without her. “Portia, mom’s waiting in the carriage!” “Joy, fix your dress! You know mother would think you’re a disgrace!” (Brilliant Improv, I know)

 

Q: What is your dream role/show?

Lily in Secret Garden or Anastasia.

 
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

Nashville. They pack in so much drama! What would be a season finale cliffhanger in any other show is just another episode for Nashville. Don’t know which guy is the baby-daddy? Will she wake up from the coma? Don’t worry, you’ll find out next episode.

Thank you Kendra- I volunteer as director for your future production of The Secret Garden- love that show!!

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

Five Question Friday

Amanda Kocher is a social worker at Missouri MENTOR by day and an active community theatre actress by night. She was last seen in KTG’s production of “Spelling Bee” where she played the passionate, spastic, and speech-impaired Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre. Amanda enjoys sweet treats, long naps, and a good, hearty laugh- let’s spend some time with Amanda!

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Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

In fifth grade, I played Beth, the narrator, in a class production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” I was so shy and awkward, and I didn’t do anything else until my sophomore year of high school (and only because my friends convinced me to).

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

Something along the lines of “Everyone is already on your side and rooting for you. The only person you have to convince is yourself.” That message is something that have to remind myself of nearly every day, several times a day.

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

Ooh, it seems like there have been so many, but the first one that comes to mind happened during a student-written one act that I was doing at Webster. In one of the scenes, my mom broke a plate and then I had to pick up all the pieces. During one of the performances, I cut my finger on one of the chunks. It didn’t hurt, but as soon as I looked down, my hand was completely covered in bright red blood. My character never left the stage, so I had to finish the show with a bloody hand. I tried to keep it by my side as much as possible so I wouldn’t draw attention. At the end, I had to open an envelope and pull out a letter. I didn’t want to get blood all over the paper, so I took the envelope and tried to open it and read the letter with one hand. It wasn’t very natural, but most people said that they didn’t even notice that or the blood, so it all worked out.

Q: What is your dream role/show?

This is so tough! My number one dream role is Diana in “Next to Normal,” but I’ll have to wait some years before that’s realistic. Because of that, I’ll say Millie in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Bonus! Jamie in “The Last Five Years” is actually my number one dream role that I will never get to play UNLESS someone is up for gender-bending casting. (Any takers?!)

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

I just started watching Riverdale, and I’m so hooked. It’s the first show I’ve truly binge-watched in over a year.

 

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Grace Austin is an STL based teacher and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com.

Five Question Friday

A hilarious 5QF awaits!!

Jenni Ryan has a love-hate-love relationship with all things theatrical. She teaches English and theatre at Nerinx Hall, where she also directs musicals and plays and tries to empower those young women. Beyond education, Jenni is an actor in plays and musicals about town. She is Associate Artistic Director of Insight Theatre Company.  Current projects: The Company, a web series that lovingly satirizes the small professional theatre company, and On Golden Pond, Insight’s next show in the 2017 season—and first season at the .zack.

 

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Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

My parents were actively involved with the Springfield Muny Opera when I was small, so my summer memories were of running around the outdoor theatre, hanging out at the makeup mirror with mom, getting a Mr. Goodbar from the concession truck, and catching tiny white frogs in soda cups. [And singing “Let me Entertain You” at the laundromat.] My first meaningful performance experience was as a 10-year old. I was part of the bicentennial celebration in this youth touring company –Bicentennial Horizons of American Music [BHAM].  It was the original bus-n-truck—we played in parks, by the Arch, etc., out of a truck-turned stage space.  Song, dance, scenes. Overalls. St. Louis humidity.

 
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

Don’t read the reviews.

 
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

Just one? I have so many! Being early pregnant and dealing with morning sickness at night [show time] was, well, tricky.  But for real, a few years ago, in On the Verge, fellow actor [Ed Reggi] ran into a boom offstage and went down! Missed his entrance, of course.  The brilliant Susie Wall saw, and ad libbed that she saw someone coming, left stage to check it out, and then called for a hold.  As we stopped the show and brought up the house lights, I, feeling very self-conscious and worried about Ed, did a time step. [That’s the appropriate response, right?] Not a good one, mind you, but I guess it was my way of joking with the audience and easing tension.  Ed was fine, but did go to get stitches, I think. We did not finish the show that day. Audience was invited back.

 
Q: What is your dream role/show?

This changes daily, especially as I age out of those dream roles.  But since I was 20, I have longed to do Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

I find re-watching certain series a comfort—much as toddlers do!—so I have probably watched The Office in its 9-season entirety at least 9 times.  But I am a fan of all things BBC, too, so I am always on the lookout for the next UK anything.

Thank you Jenni!!!

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Grace Austin is an STL based director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com

 

Five Question Friday

A behind the scenes force, today we’re talking to costumer Marci Franklin!

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Marci manages the costume departments at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis and formerly the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN. Her work can also be seen in the films Hunger Games, Elvis and Nixon, and Ender’s Game. Her design work has been seen in theaters all over St Louis. Next year she will be designing **** for The Repertory Theatre. She is the resident costumer designer for East Central College.

Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

A: The Miser, in high school. I was a wench in a mob cap and a flannel shirt. Comic relief, for sure!

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

A: I suppose it would be that “We aren’t saving babies.” Meaning what we do is theatre, a skit, a play, a musical. Yes, it’s my profession and it pays the bills but we are not saving lives. We are telling stories, enabling people to escape into another world for a while, we entertain people and make them happy or sad or introspective or angry. In the end, we want to give the audience the best show possible but we need to remember that in the end, it’s just a play. Emotions and words need to be positive and helpful and realistic. When we take ourselves too seriously, people get hurt and theatre stops being a collaborative effort. Maybe we save the lives of those involved by being a family, a theatre family. In the end, it just a play.

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

A: Oh, which one to pick!! During the 17 years, I’ve had my share of missing costumes. Is it a) still at the dry cleaners, b) behind your hangtag with all your other clothes and you were too lazy to look, c) in your ditty bag and you didn’t look hard enough, d) in the next guy’s stuff, e) stolen. Apart from those daily occurances, I would say back when I was the wardrobe supervisor for the Rep, we were doing Anything Goes. The chorus girls (what are they called, angels) arrive in these curly lamb coats. Two were real, two were fabric that looked like curly lamb. The two fake coats came back from the dry cleaner in shreds. The string/yarn that simulated the look of curly lamb had been glue on the fabric and the dry cleaning fluid had dissolved the glue. I proceeded to fabri-tak all the strings/yarn back on the coat in a somewhat believable fashion for the show that evening. It took many, many hours. Otherwise, the shop would have had to build two coats that day.

Q: What is your dream role/show?

A: Hairspray. Love the music, the message, and John Waters. I hate musicals in general but I like Hairspray and Little Shop of Horrors (I was bag lady #1 at East Central College in 1990).

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

A: I am totally old school right now. ER and CSI episodes that I record. I know, boring.

Thank you Marci!

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com.

Five Question Friday

Let’s hear it for this boy! (I’m sorry, I could not resist…)

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Kameron N. Saunders was born in St. Louis, MO. He is a graduate of the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City with his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. He graduated from Metro Academic & Classical High School while doing his dance training at COCA (Center of Creative Arts). There he studied ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, and choreography as a part of their Pre-Professional Program. His performance experience includes UMKC’s Conservatory, Webster University, and two of COCA’s student dance companies. Kameron is currently a principal dancer with Afriky Lolo; a West-African dance company in St. Louis, MO under the direction of Diadie Bathily. He has also performed as a guest artist with Störling Dance Theater in Kansas City. Kameron has worked with renowned artists such as Alicia Graf Mack, Anthony Redd Williams, Antonio Douthit-Boyd, Tommie-Waheed Evans, Sally Bliss, Christine O’Neal, Kirk Peterson, Michael Uthoff, Jon Lehrer, Kate Skarpetowska, Kirven J. Douthit-Boyd, Edgar Anido, Ray Mercer, Sabrina Madison-Cannon, Gary Abbott, DeeAnna Hiett, Lara Teeter, Lee Nolting, Frank Chaves, and Ron K. Brown. Kameron has choreographed for the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Washington University, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, The Big Muddy Dance Company, Consuming Kinetics Dance Company, MADCO, and COCA. Kameron has presented several of his works at festivals including Modern Night at the Folly in Kansas City, APAP in New York City, Spring to Dance in St. Louis, and Deeply Rooted Dance Company’s Emerging Choreographer’s Showcase in Chicago. In the spring of 2011 Kameron entered the National Society of Arts and Letters “Art of the Solo” choreography competition where his work ‘Runner’ won first place locally and fifth place nationally. He has also choreographed for Tony award-winning actor Ken Page for his original play for dance, Sublime Intimacy, which premiered in December of 2015. In January of 2017 Kameron started his own project-based dance company, Kambré Contemporary Dance Company. In addition to that he has returned to COCA to teach dance and now serves as the student company Rehearsal Director to former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater principal dancers, Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd.

Q: What was your first experience in theatre?

I would say the first experience I had in theater was my 8th grade year of middle school when my dance teacher, Tina Parker, put on a production of The Wiz. She cast me as a dancer in several main scenes like “No Bad News” and the Green, Red, and Gold scenes at Emerald City. She also cast me as the actual Wiz himself which was a huge deal for me. I had to act over a pre-recorded track of Richard Pryor from the actual movie. I had a wig and everything. I remember being at home in the living room going over my “lines” and how I was going to deliver them and how dramatic I was going to be. My mom and grandma still talk about that performance to this day.

Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?

Some of the best advice I’ve gotten comes from my mom. She keeps me humble and hungry to keep going. When I run into conflict or get a little down in the journey of dance and choreography she always says “not everyone will like you. Not everyone will root for you. But if you honestly love what you do that’s all that matters! You will always work because you love it and the doors will open eventually!”

Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.

My senior year of high school I did a piece by freelance choreographer, Kate Skarpetowska. It was a cast of 4 girls and 1 male. The lead/male role of this work did a lot of running in this piece. I sweat profusely! After dancing and running there’s a part where the male just sits in one spot of the stage in a specific position not moving while the ladies dance. I was wearing all white and my costume was soaked and I could feel and see the sweat dripping off of my nose as I sat there. When it came time for me to dance again I had to get up and start running in a circle yet again. I started to run and got to the part of the stage where I had been sitting…. and sweating… and slipped on my own sweat. I didn’t fall luckily but had to steer clear of that part of the stage for the rest of the piece. It was embarrassing to say the least.

Q: What is your dream role/show?

I would love to be in Lion King on broadway. Been a dream of mine for a while now, and my best friend actually just booked a dance ensemble role and hopefully I’ll be joining her soon.

Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?

Currently Grace & Frankie is what I’m obsessed with. That show is hilarious!

Thank you Kam!

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Grace Austin is an STL area director and educator.

See her work at gracemaustin.com