2015 Best Leading Actress in a Musical Nominee: Katie Anne Clark as Ruth Sherwood in Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston's "Wonderful Town"

Before we announce our 2015 ArtsImpulse Award Winners, we are proud to present our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series.

NOTE: If you were nominated for a 2015 ArtsImpulse Theatre Award, and you would like to participate in our Nominee Interview Series, please email us at brian@artsimpulse.com.

We are delighted to interview Katie Anne Clark, a local Boston theatre star who made her Equity debut this summer at the Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston with a deliciously comedic and highly energetic turn as Ruth Sherwood, the dynamic but secretly sweet half of the Sherwood sisters in Wonderful Town.  Katie commanded the show, striking just the right notes with her brash sense of humor, her warm tenderness, and her spunky attitude towards life and success.  It was Katie's chemistry with Jennifer Ellis as her onstage sister, Eileen, and her emerging infatuation with Kevin Cirone as Robert (Bob) Barker that made Katie Anne Clark shine brightest among the Greater Boston stars this season. 

In her Interview, Katie tells us about how she landed the role of Ruth in Wonderful Town (thanks, Miss York!), her biggest challenges as a performer, her guilty pleasures, and her advice to her 50 year old self!

Hi, Katie!  Thank you so much for joining us for our Nominee Interview Series.  Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Hi there!  My name is Katie Anne Clark and I am from Medford, MA, born and raised.  I went to college in Indiana for Musical Theatre, lived in New York City for a few years, toured the country with a National Tour, and came back to Boston about 3 years ago for a theatre contract.  Boston has treated me well, and I’ve been very lucky, so I’m still here!

Tell us about the audition process for Wonderful Town.  Was there anything different about this process?  How did you feel during each round?

Actually, yes!  The role of Ruth Sherwood was originally cast when Reagle announced their season.  Broadway vet Rachel York was pre-cast in the role.  However, she had to decline the contract because she booked something else, and they needed to hold auditions for the role of Ruth after all.  I found this out 3 days before the audition.  I went into the audition and sang and read for the role, and, luckily, I was a fit for the production team.  The rest is history!  Wonderful Town was my first Equity contract, so I will forever be indebted to Miss York. 

How did you connect with Ruth?  How were you different?  What did you discover about her?

I GREATLY connected with the character of Ruth.  We are eerily similar and even the way her dialogue was written, it felt like it was written for me.  Her timing, her jokes, and her sense of humor were all written in the style and cadence of my own voice and mannerisms. 

It was fun to discover the softer side of Ruth.  We see her brashness and her boldness most of the time, especially when trying to get a job and make her dreams happen in New York City.  But what was lovely to explore was her softer side with her sister Eileen (Jennifer Ellis) and how she dealt with falling in love with Bob Baker (Kevin Cirone).  For a role that seemed somewhat one note, it was an actor’s dream to be able to find all those different colors and really make Ruth more of an actual human being as opposed to just a cartoon character.  

Ruth (Katie Anne Clark) and Eileen (Jennifer Ellis) share a laugh in Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston's Wonderful Town (Photo Credit: Herb Philpott).

Ruth (Katie Anne Clark) and Eileen (Jennifer Ellis) share a laugh in Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston's Wonderful Town (Photo Credit: Herb Philpott).

A big part of Wonderful Town is the relationship with Eileen (played by Jennifer Ellis), Ruth’s sister.  Do you have any siblings?  If so, what is your relationship with them?  How did you establish your relationship with Jen in the show?

I am the baby of the Clark family with an older brother (Matthew – 40) and an older sister (Tara – 37).  And it’s funny because Jen is actually the eldest of her siblings so we both got to flip flop from our personal lives.  It was lovely to be the nurturer, the “mother-hen” type of character and I know Jen had a blast playing the silly, naive younger sis.

What have been some of your biggest challenges as a performer?  What do you want to work on in 2016?

I’m fortunate to always be cast in the great comedic roles in musical theatre (Ruth in Wonderful Town, Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Miss Krumholtz in H2$), but what I really want to explore are the more dramatic characters in the canon of musical theatre.  I want to be able to really sink my teeth in to a meaty role and really “act,” not just play shtick.  I would love to explore straight plays and challenge myself to not hide behind a song or a tap step or jazz hands.  It frightens me to even say it!

What are some of your favorite hobbies or activities?  Guilty pleasures?

I’m addicted to Food Network.  A closeted foodie!  I would love to take real cooking classes and learn to be able to cook like the chefs on Top Chef

Miscast! What are some of the roles that you would love to play but would not typically get cast (because of gender, race, age, etc.)?

Oooooo what a great question!  I would love to play Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.  I know I could really have fun with that dialogue and banter between her and Higgins.  And, honestly, I would love to play Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.  I’ve been performing that role for my mother in our kitchen for years.  I could SLAY “If I Were A Rich Man.”

What advice would you give yourself at 10 years old?  20 years old?  50 years old?

At 10?  I would tell myself to not be so shy and hesitant.  It took me years to come outside of my shell and not be afraid to fall or make a mistake.  I never took chances as a kid and I would tell myself to go for it more and not play it safe.

At 20?  Woof.  I would tell myself that it doesn’t matter what school you went to or how tall or thin or fat or blonde you are; all that matters is the work and making connections and showing up prepared and ready.

At 50?  I would tell myself to get on that treadmill because I’ll need endurance to get through “Rose’s Turn.”

Do you have any opening night or performance rituals?

Nothing specific, but whatever routine I create for myself during tech and dress, I keep that down to a science once the show is up.  Once that pre-show routine is set, whether it’s saying “break legs” to the cast or stretching in a certain spot backstage, or setting quick changes, I MUST do that the same way every day, every show or else I’ll be thrown off. 

Ruth (Katie Anne Clark) raises the roof and swings in the Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston's Wonderful Town, leading an Ensemble of talented singers and dancers (Photo Credit: Herb Philpott).

Ruth (Katie Anne Clark) raises the roof and swings in the Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston's Wonderful Town, leading an Ensemble of talented singers and dancers (Photo Credit: Herb Philpott).

Do you have any upcoming projects?

I do!  I’m currently in rehearsals for Mary Poppins at Wheelock Family Theatre.  I’m in the Ensemble and I am the Dance Captain, and I also helped with a little bit of the choreography.  Then, in the spring of 2016, I’m playing Queenie in LaChiusa’s The Wild Party with Moonbox Productions, directed by Rachel Bertone

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

I’m just so excited to have been nominated, truly!  Getting to play Ruth was a dream come true and I could not have been happier for those 4 short weeks.  Also, getting to play with Jen Ellis and Kevin Cirone every night was also a blast.  I am a very lucky girl.