2014 Best Leading Actress in a Musical or Opera Nominee Interview: Gillian Mariner Gordon as Kathy Shelden in Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston's "Singin' in the Rain"

Before we announce the winners of the 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Awards, we are proud to present our Nominee Interviews.

NOTE: If you or your production was nominated for a 2014 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in a Nominee Interview, please email us here.

Gillian Mariner Gordon brings fresh vibrancy to any stage, and we are delighted to honor her work in Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston's Singin' in the Rain.  Like her character, Kathy Shelden, Gillian is a spark of inspiration, bringing not only triple threat talent to any of her roles, but also her own unique interpretation of a role.  Her Kathy was not only the gorgeous ingenue akin to young Debbie Reynolds but had a resiliency which made her even more attractive and heartwarming.  In her Nominee Interview, Gillian shares  how she identifies with Kathy Shelden, her favorite movie musicals, and one of the craziest things that she's done onstage! 

Photo Credit: Cheryl Richards Photography

Photo Credit: Cheryl Richards Photography

Gillian, thank you so much for agreeing to participate in our Nominee Interview Series.  It’s always a delight to talk with you.  Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi ArtsImpulse readers!  I’m a 21 year old actress who lives in Charlestown with my family and dog, Ruby.    

What shows or productions did you do in 2014?  Who is Kathy Selden?  Why was this role special for you and for audiences?

In 2014, I played a nurse in South Pacific and Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain (both at Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston), and Melody in Bad Jews (SpeakEasy Stage Company). 

Kathy Selden is an ambitious, feisty and passionate person, an aspiring actress in the 1920s, who is learning the ropes but believes she has a keen sense of how to climb the ladder to success.  In all areas of life - from love to work - the audience sees a naive young lady who is eager to learn the ropes without diminishing the pride that she has for seeking the life of her dreams.  Other than hitting a star with a pie in the face, she quite gracefully handles the trials and tribulations of both her professional and personal life in the entertainment industry, and she truly comes out on top.  I don’t want to ruin the story for those who are not familiar with the show - I was quite surprised last summer by the number of friends who had never seen Singin‘ in the Rain! 

The role of Kathy Selden is so special to me (as a young actress) because she shows constant perseverance.  We all get kicked in the teeth and undermined at times, but the key is pulling yourself back up.  “Fall seven times, get up eight” - that’s Kathy Selden, and I hope a bit of that has rubbed off on me. 

Did you grow up watching Singin’ in the Rain?  Had you seen the stage musical before?  Did you have a favorite song from the show?

Yes, Singin’ in the Rain was definitely one of the first movie musicals that I have ever seen.  I had seen it once on stage at The Emerson Umbrella (now The Umbrella) in Concord.  “Good Morning” is definitely my favorite song; it’s the song I use for my alarm every morning, yet I’m also a real sucker for numbers like the beautiful “You Were Meant For Me” and the hilarious “Moses Supposes.”    

What is your favorite movie musical?  Do you have a least favorite? Do you have a musical that you wish would be converted to a movie?  Who would star?

Singin’ in the Rain and The Sound of Music are hands down my two favorite movie musicals. I also adore the movie musical versions of CabaretCarousel and Meet Me In St. Louis, but I honestly can’t think of my least favorite movie musical. 

There was already a movie made of Thoroughly Modern Millie, but it is not the Broadway musical version.  I think Millie could be made into an excellent movie musical.  I also think Grey Gardens could be a spectacular movie musical, but it would have to star Christine Ebersole who originated the lead role on Broadway.  

  Pictured L to R: Sean Quinn,Gillian Mariner Gordon, and Edward Tolve (Photo Credit: Herb Philpott)

 Pictured L to R: Sean Quinn,Gillian Mariner Gordon, and Edward Tolve (Photo Credit: Herb Philpott)

What are your long-term career goals?  Where would you like to be?  What would you like to be doing?

I absolutely love Boston and the theatre scene here, however, I dream of working in other places, too.  What an incredible way to see the world.  In particular, I dream of working in NYC and England, for I’m a dual citizen.  

Who are some of your idols?  Who inspires you? 

My idols include (in no specific order): Sutton Foster, Cate Blanchett, Marion Cotillard, Daniel Day-Lewis, Christopher Walken, Kristen Wiig, Judy Garland, Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Mindy Kaling, and many more.  But my friends who show nothing but kindness, hard work and love for the arts are the people who inspire me the most.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not onstage?  Do these activities ever help you when you are onstage?  Have they ever been useful in a production?

I love going on road trips, photography, design and spending time with family and friends  -- and I love to be around animals . . . especially dogs!  I have not had this opportunity, but I would love to play a role where I have a canine companion on stage.  I would cherish every second of that.  

What is the craziest thing that you’ve ever been asked to do onstage?  What is something that you wish that you could do onstage in the future?

I’ve dug my own grave!  I played Antigone in These Seven Sicknesses at The Modern Theatre when I was attending Suffolk University.  These Seven Sicknesses is a long (and fantastic) play that merges and modernizes Sophocles’ seven surviving plays.  The final scene takes place while Antigone is digging her own grave.  I was digging pretty much the whole time and it was tiring . . . and creepy! 

I would love to be given the chance to fly on stage. 

Do you have any roles on your “bucket list”?  Any plays or musicals?  Is there any musical which, while you would not want to be in it, you would love to see on a Boston stage?

Some of my dream roles include Julie Jordan and Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel, Little Edie in Grey Gardens, Laura in The Glass Menagerie, Louise in Gypsy, Emily in Our Town, Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Nina in The Seagull

It’s hard to pick.  I’d love to see The Producers on a Boston stage!  I love all of Mel Brooks’ work.        

What makes you laugh?

News bloopers, any of Kristen Wiig’s characters and doing awkward dances while in uncomfortable conversations/situations! 

Do you have any upcoming productions or projects?

I’m currently planning summer events for the theatre company I founded  three years ago, Boston Theatre Project.  Last year, we had a cabaret fundraiser, Boston Theatre Pet Project, to raise money for Great Dog Rescue New England.  ‘Tis audition season! :) 

Do you have anything else to share with our ArtsImpulse readers?

Thank you Brian and ArtsImpluse!  Singin’ in the Rain is a show that will always hold a special place in my heart, along with the talented and kind cast and crew that made it such a joy to “put on a show” (and some black and white movies!) last summer.  I wish you the best of everything with ArtsImpulse!   We are all very lucky to have your commitment to the arts in our area.