2015 Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Nominee: Katie Schiering as Beth Spencer in FUDGE Theatre Company's "Merrily We Roll Along"

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 Aware, and you would like to participate in our 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series, please email us at brian@artsimpulse.com

Photo Credit: Ross Brown.

Photo Credit: Ross Brown.

Katie Schiering performed as the lovely and nuanced Beth Spencer, spanning over twenty years in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's final production, Merrily We Roll Along. Her Beth was vulnerable and sweet, and independent and hardened, a beautiful transformation by life's circumstances. In her Interview, Katie talks about her favorite Sondheim musicals, her proudest moments outside of the theatre, and the two famous women with whom she would have loved to have dinner!

Hi, Katie, and welcome to ArtsImpulse! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Katie Schiering (formerly Katie Preisig; I got married this past summer 2015), and I am happy to be a performer in the Boston area, as well as a theater director and vocal coach for a children’s theater program in Wellesley, Massachusetts. I’ve been performing in Boston here and there for about 7 years. I’m originally from Groton, Massachusetts. I currently live outside the city with my husband and stepchildren.

Can you talk to us about your work in Merrily We Roll Along.  Who was Beth? 

Ahh, Merrily . . . such a dear show for me. It was the last FUDGE Theater Company show, and they’ve been a huge part of my life for the past 6 or 7 years. The show is ultimately about friendships . . . how they last and why they fail.

Beth is a lot of different things in the show, considering the show spans the length of twenty years. She starts off as a young woman, aspiring performer, a cheerfully naive southern girl. Her story ends with a very messy divorce. The show is told backwards though, so reverse that.

What were some of the challenges?  What were some of the highlights?

The biggest challenge was certainly the timeline of the show running backwards. I had to draw a map just to figure it all out. It wasn’t like we were in constant rewind . . . we were in a few consecutive scenes of one time period, then a few scenes of a few years before, then a couple scenes of a long time before, and so on . . . It’s genius, but complicated.

The challenge was also a highlight; I loved portraying 20 years of a character. People change so much so it was extremely dynamic.

Some of the cast in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's  Merrily We Roll Along  (Photo Credit:   Matt Phillipps Photography  ). 

Some of the cast in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's Merrily We Roll Along (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps Photography). 

Have you performed other Sondheim?  If so, what roles? 

The only other Sondheim show I’ve been in was Assassins. I was Squeaky Fromme. It’s a really whacky show but I loved it. I like playing crazy characters. Squeaky was a nut case.

I have a funny story about that show. Squeaky has a picture of Charles Manson that she carries with her and fawns over. After the show closed, I must have put the picture in my wallet but I don’t remember doing so. It fell out one day when I was at a family party, and I had to explain why I had a wallet size photo of Charles Manson on me. They didn’t see the show, so it was hard to explain!

Are there any Sondheim roles that you would love to play?

I constantly change my mind with this one . . . I have never done Into the Woods and it’s the only Sondheim show on my bucket list. I go back and forth between The Witch and The Baker’s Wife.

What have been some of your favorite roles?  What are some other roles on your bucket list?

My top four have been Beth in Merrily We Roll Along, Louise in Gypsy, Holly in The Wedding Singer, and Kate McGowan in Titanic. My ultimate dream role is Eva Peron in Evita. I’ve been rehearsing for that role since I was 7 years old.

I also dream of playing Francesca in Bridges of Madison County, Kate in The Wild Party, Lucille in Parade, and the list goes on.

What is the last song that you sang at an audition or performance?   Why that song?

It’s been a while since I’ve performed, actually the last song I sang on stage was the finale of our closing performance of Merrily We Roll Along. That was an emotional moment, being that it was also FUDGE’s last performance as a company.

How have you grown as a person and performer in the last few years?

I’ve had the opportunity to play some rather difficult characters the last few years, which has really broadened my horizons as an actor. Also, my experience teaching and directing children’s shows has given me a whole new understanding on backstage and technical work. I’ve been doing everything from costuming, to set design, to choreographing, so I’ve had to learn to follow a larger vision.

Franklin Shepard (Jared Walsh) and Beth Spencer (Katie Schiering) in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's  Merrily We Roll Along  (Photo Credit:   Matt Phillipps Photography  ).

Franklin Shepard (Jared Walsh) and Beth Spencer (Katie Schiering) in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's Merrily We Roll Along (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps Photography).

What have been some of your proudest moments outside of the theatre?

I’m proud of my family. My husband, stepchildren and I are a close unit and we keep getting stronger. I’m also very happy with how I’ve managed to keep up with my incredible friends and form some really strong bonds, despite my work and family schedule.

You have a date night on a Saturday.  What do you plan to do? 

If it’s been a really busy week, then Netflix on the couch is what I crave the most. However, a better date would be going into the city to see a show, tapas for dinner, and strolling through the Public Gardens.

If you could have a meal with two famous people, who would they be?  What would you talk about?  Most importantly, what would you eat?

Elaine Paige and Patti Lupone. I’d love to hear about how they each approached the role of Eva Peron, and how their experiences differed. I would definitely pick their brains for when I (if I) ever get to play this dream part of mine!

I think we’d have to eat at some fancy seafood place . . . they strike me as classy ladies who lunch. I’d love to eat oysters with them!

Do you have any upcoming projects?

I’m currently directing Willy Wonka Jr. in Wellesley, and am itching to get on the stage myself when the next opportunity comes along, but nothing on the books just yet.

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

Thank you for taking the time to read about me! I’m honored to be nominated. I love the Boston theater community and hope to work with all of you lovely people in the future!

2015 Best Leading Actor in a Musical Nominee: Jared Walsh as Franklin Shepard in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's "Merrily We Roll Along"

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

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

Jared Walsh is an effortless talent as crowd-favorite, Franklin Shepard, in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's final production, Merrily We Roll Along. This Sondheim show and leading role is a difficult challenge for even the most talented performers. Jared Walsh brings his boyish smirk, his smooth vocals, and his relatable charm to this complicated role. In his Interview, Jared tells us about his Frank, the three best traits in a friend, and what inspires him.

Hi, Jared, and thank you for joining us. Can you start by telling our readers a bit about yourself and your work? 

Hey, Brian, thanks for having me.  I am originally from the Boston area and I have been in the theater scene for the past seven years or so.  I’ve been involved in productions both in the city, and as far west as Natick and Framingham.  I grew up in Braintree, and I went to school out at Westfield State University.  I’ve also been in a band, Barricades, for the past seven years or so, and we’re currently in the studio releasing our third recorded project; I’m very excited.

How did you get involved in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company’s Merrily We Roll Along?  Have you been involved in other F.U.D.G.E. productions?

Of course!  My fondest theater memories in this area heavily consist of my work with F.U.D.G.E.  I’ve been involved in five different F.U.D.G.E productions and it was F.U.D.G.E. that gave me the opportunity to break-into the Boston theater scene when I cast in their production of Violet.  Ever since then, until they eventually closed up shop, I made it a point to be involved in as many F.U.D.G.E. productions as I could. 

The production that I hold closest to my heart is Spring Awakening.  It was just the perfect cast at the perfect time and really was a wonderful experience that I will hold onto forever.

Who is Franklin Shepherd?  Do you identify with him?  Are there other Sondheim characters (from this show or his other shows) with whom you identify more?  Why?

Oh . . . “dat Frank.”  Frank is an opportunist who would do anything to get ahead and push everything and everyone aside for fame, esteem, and money.  He sounds like a peachy keen, squeaky-clean guy . . .

I wouldn’t say I identify with Frank, but I do at least understand his wants and needs to see the work that he produces be recognized and for it to be successful.  Everyone wants to have what they do to be regarded as important; it’s why we do what we do in life.  It is the process and path we take to get that success and recognition for which we are judged. I don’t think everyone necessarily wants fame and fortune, but there is value to be had into putting effort into our lives, relationships, and careers, and coming out with some sort of validation, or recognition for those efforts. 

Sondheim writes in such a brilliant way that even his most unattainable characters on the surface can be related to in some facet of their personality.  For example, I don’t necessarily agree with how Bobby goes about his life in Company . . . but I do absolutely relate to the want and need to love and be loved.  It’s so central in his character that you can’t help but to root for him to find what he’s looking for in the end.  “Somebody force me to love/Somebody force me to care”  is a lyric that sticks out to me that exemplifies that.

Charley Kringas (Adam Schuller) and Franklin Shepard (Jared Walsh) in  The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company 's  Merrily We Roll Along  (Photo Credit:   Matt Phillipps Photography  ).

Charley Kringas (Adam Schuller) and Franklin Shepard (Jared Walsh) in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's Merrily We Roll Along (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps Photography).

How do you relax?

Relax??? Relaxing and I don’t usually go together.  I constantly find myself on the go.  I teach, coach and play baseball, play in the band, perform in shows, tutor, and travel when I can.  My life is one ball of organization and planning . . . and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you could list three best traits in a friend, what would they be?  What are three personality traits that you hope others would use to describe you?

Loyalty, understanding, and humor. 

I just hope people understand that I generally have what I think are their best intentions at heart, all of the time.  The most valuable thing we have in this life is time, and I choose to spend it with the people I love. It may come at weird intervals, or strange gaps in appearances because of schedules and general life-happenings . . . but I feel as though the people I keep in touch with, and the people I reach out to (even sparingly), know that I’d be there for them when they needed it.

What has been the scariest thing that you done onstage (either fear for your safety or just challenging)?

The scariest thing I do on-stage is dance.  I’m not a dancer.  I dread it.  Tell me to run a post pattern and catch a football one handed, while being draped by a defender . . . or to hit a fastball on the outside corner . . . my body is more than able to do those things. 

When it comes to dancing, I just can’t seem to move my body the way that I know it can or that it should.  It’s terrifying.  Most of the shows I’ve auditioned for have had little dancing . . . and that’s on purpose.

What is one message that you would want to give to millennials in theatre?  In their professional and personal life?

Keep going.  Don’t stop.  It’s cliché, and it’s boring and it’s sort of a copout answer but it’s true.  I’m guilty of it myself sometimes.  I feel as though I’ve missed opportunities, or have been hesitant to take a risk . . . but no one is going to give you anything, in anything you do.  If you want to go out and get something, certainly use your resources but you have to go get it for yourself.

Charley Kringas (Adam Schuller), Frank Shepard (Jared Walsh), and Mary Flynn (Andrea Giangreco) in  The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company 's  Merrily We Roll Along  (Photo Credit:   Matt Phillipps Photography  ).

Charley Kringas (Adam Schuller), Frank Shepard (Jared Walsh), and Mary Flynn (Andrea Giangreco) in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's Merrily We Roll Along (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps Photography).

What inspires you?

Seeing the people I love do the things that they love to do.  Eloquent, I know.  For real though, I am just flabbergasted by the people I’ve grown up with from home, and the people I went to college, and those I’ve met since then.  They’re doing awesome things in their lives and it is what inspires me to do what I’m passionate about.

Tell us a funny audition or performance story. Make us laugh.

I was fortunate enough to be called back for the national tour of Once.  I had to sing “Say It to Me Now,” and I just did my best to mimic Glen Hansard from the movie version. When I finished, the casting director looks at me and goes: “Wow . . . you’re really comfortable up there, huh?” He meant singing in my upper register, or, as I call it, yelling on pitch.  I came back with “Well, yeah, I’m playing Gabe tonight in Next to Normal, I have to be.”  They all laughed and it certainly made me feel good about the audition.  Sadly, nothing ever came of it, but it made me happy to make them laugh.

Do you have any resolutions or goals for 2016?

Spend my time with the people I want to be around.  It’s all I try to do.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

My band, Barricades, just finished up our third album.  It has yet to be named, but we’re hoping an official release some point in the near future!

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

Nothing really, just stay classy!

2015 Best Leading Actress in a Musical Nominee: Andrea Giangreco as Mary Flynn in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's "Merrily We Roll Along"

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 2015 ArtsImpulse Nominee Interview Series, please email us at brian@artsimpulse.com.

Photo Credit: Sarah Ernst

Photo Credit: Sarah Ernst

Andrea Giangreco could have stolen the show as the expressive, alcoholic and passionate Mary Flynn.  However, her biggest strength as a performer in this show was her deep collaboration with her fellow cast mates, particularly with Jared Walsh as Franklin Shepherd (also a 2015 ArtsImpulse Award Nominee) and Adam Schuler as Charley Kringas.  In this way, Andrea not only held her own as a strong performer, but she made the people around her look and sound better.  Andrea brought the best out of herself and her fellow stars in this gorgeous farewell production for The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company.

In her Interview, Andrea tells us a bit more about her character, Mary Flynn; the strangest thing that she has ever done onstage (hint, it involved heights); and her newest project (we can't wait, Andrea!). 

Hi, Andrea! It is such a pleasure to talk to you after many years of admiring your performances onstage.  Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hey Brian! Thanks for the nomination!

I’m from Burlington, Massachusetts, and I have been performing since my freshman year at Burlington High School. I went to Salem State University for Communications and I currently work in Healthcare. I’ve done shows all over the Greater Boston area! 

Tell us about Mary Flynn.  Who is she?  What was her role in the musical Merrily We Roll Along?  Why was she special to you?

Mary Flynn is a writer and theatre critic and best friend of Frank Shepard and Charley Kringas. In her youth, she dreams of being a writer, and achieves success fairly early after her first novel is published. She is also hopelessly in love with Frank, but doesn’t want to ruin their friendship by confessing her true feelings. Instead, she turns to the bottle to drown her emotions. Throughout the show, Mary acts as the glue that holds the bond of Her, Frank and Charley together. When Charley and Frank start in on each other, she’s there to smooth everything all over.

Mary was special to me because I found a lot of similarities between the two of us. I’m not saying that we are carbon copies, but I found it easy to relate with what she was going through because of my own personal experiences.

I wasn’t very familiar with this show before Joey DeMita cast me, and I don’t think I realized until after we closed that Mary Flynn was the dream role that I never knew I wanted. Working so closely with Jared Walsh (Frank) and Adam Schuler (Charley) was a dream. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look for shows where we could play best friends again. I’ll never forget singing “Our Time” at the final performance.

(From left): Charley Kringas (Adam Schuler), Franklin Shepherd (Jared Walsh), and Mary Flynn (Andrea Giangreco) make a pact for their future friendship in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's  Merrily We Roll Along  (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps)

(From left): Charley Kringas (Adam Schuler), Franklin Shepherd (Jared Walsh), and Mary Flynn (Andrea Giangreco) make a pact for their future friendship in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's Merrily We Roll Along (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps)

Why do you think Merrily We Roll Along continues to resonate with audiences?

At its core, the story is relevant because it deals with making sacrifices and hard choices in order to achieve success, and how those choices affect your future.

How do you pick your roles and auditions?  What projects inspire you?

As I mentioned earlier, I want to have a very diverse resume. When I started acting, I admired the actors who could do anything—Meryl Streep, Daniel Day Lewis and Gary Oldman come to mind. When I look for auditions, I always keep in mind that I can do a lot more than just belt my face off. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of executing that. I’m dying for the opportunity to play an ingénue though! Get this girl a love story!

Projects that inspire me are always seeded in originality and creativity. I had the pleasure of working with Andrew Barbato and Cellar Door in Stoneham on multiple occasions, and I was always would leave rehearsals in awe of how creative he is. We performed ALICE! in the basement rehearsal space under Stoneham Theatre, and [Andrew] would change that very blank space into quite literally, Wonderland.

I also really give a lot of credit to theatres who try new things and out of the box ideas with their storytelling. I hope I get to see Hamilton and Deaf West’s Spring Awakening. I love directors who are unafraid to throw out the “typical” and “generic” staging of shows and go in a completely different direction with it. I know it’s hard to break the mold, but I’d love to see more of this happening!

What are some of the best performances or productions that you saw in 2015?

I had the pleasure of seeing Alan Cumming as the Emcee in Cabaret last winter, and, to this day, I get chills remembering how unbelievably good he was. He was on stage for the majority of the show and was always so invested in what was happening on stage, even when the story line didn’t directly involve him.

I also loved Titanic at Woodland Theatre. I had a lot of friends in that show and I always love seeing them on stage. Woodland always produced beautiful shows; I’m sad that I didn’t get the chance to perform more with them.

What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t know how surprising this is, but I played the trombone for a long time in school. SO—if anyone is looking for an actor/singer who owns a trombone—I’m your gal!

If you could have dinner with two people, who would they be?  Why?  What would you eat?

I have such a long list, but, in the theme of musical theatre, I’d love to meet Julie Andrews and Angela Lansbury. Even before I wanted to get involved in theatre, I admired these women. They created brilliant characters on stage and screen, and, in “real life,” they seem humble and hysterical. Picking Julie Andrew’s brain about bringing Mary Poppins to life and hearing stories from Angela Lansbury during her run in Murder, She Wrote would make for a fun dinner party. I would bring pizza and beer to one of their English Countryside Manors (I’m assuming they live in English Countryside Manors).

What is the strangest or most odd thing that someone has asked you to do onstage?  What happened?

When I was in Godspell at Marblehead Little Theatre, Sarah Ernst (our fearless director and choreographer) asked us to spend a better half of “We Beseech Thee” simultaneously jumping and singing on a trampoline. I faced death MULTIPLE times as I was not very good at multi-tasking singing and jumping simultaneously. I almost bounced straight off our stage and into the laps of the audience during one performance! Also, I couldn’t gauge how high to jump to stay safe, and almost collided with the light right above my trampoline every night.

 If you could perform in any other Sondheim show, what would it be?  Who would you play?  Would you want anyone to perform the show with you?

Easy. Sweeney Todd. I’ve wanted to play Mrs. Lovett since I started performing back in high school (I have Angela Lansbury to thank for this—I’ll do that over dinner). And If I could have ANYONE be in the show with me, I would want Harrison Ford as Sweeney Todd—just because.

Charley Kringas (Adam Schuler) is comforted by Mary Flynn (Andrea Giangreco) in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's  Merrily We Roll Along  (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps)

Charley Kringas (Adam Schuler) is comforted by Mary Flynn (Andrea Giangreco) in The F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company's Merrily We Roll Along (Photo Credit: Matt Phillipps)

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Yes! I was just cast as Pennywise in Urinetown at Longwood Players in Cambridge. The show goes up in May. VERY excited about this role and the cast and production team is so stupidly talented. Don’t miss this one!

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

Keep supporting Boston theatre!

2014 Best Student Actress Nominee Interview: Paige Berkovitz as Mary Flynn in The Boston Conservatory's "Merrily We Roll Along"

Photo by Dennis Apergis Los Angeles Photography

Photo by Dennis Apergis Los Angeles Photography

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.

Paige Berkovitz showed the joy and humanity behind the cynical, biting Mary Flynn in The Boston Conservatory's Merrily We Roll Along, convincing us of the many layers behind these Sondheim characters. Moreover, Paige reinforced the strong character work and scene study present at The Boston Conservatory, never settling and always curious for more.  In her Interview, Paige discusses her love for Sondheim, her dreams, and her love for chocolate!

Hi, Paige!  Thank you for agreeing to participate in an Interview.  Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?  What is your performing background? 

I started performing when I was eight years old. My mom signed me up for a community theater production of Annie and I fell in love with performing. 

What is the story of Merrily We Roll Along

Tricky question. I think the story of Merrily boils down to friendship. Do not let fame or fortune get to your head. 

How did you choose to play Mary Flynn?  What was the biggest challenge?  What was your favorite moment? 

Well, you have to be careful with Miss Mary. She is easily portrayed as the snarky, cynical, witty best friend. You have to try to make her as likable as possible instead of falling in the trap of the “love sick woe is me girl.”

My favorite moment had to be the end when we all meet each other on the roof for the first time. That scene shows such a promising future for the three of them and leaves you with such hope. 

Had you performed a Sondheim musical before?  Do you have any other Sondheim roles that you would like to play?  How is a Sondheim show different or similar to other musical theatre?                                                                          

I was in Into The Woods in high school and I played Cinderella. I honestly think I would like to play every female role in a Sondheim show. I would want to be Baker’s Wife and the Witch, Petra, Dot, Beggar Woman, Martha. Name the role and I will probably say yes. 

Sondheim is in his own category. He writes in such a special way that any actor is lucky to work on his material. Each beat and breath mark in his music is written out for a specific dramatic purpose. It is gift to work on his material. 

To students looking for a strong musical theatre program, what advice would you give?  What should students ask themselves?  What questions should they ask to their potential schools or programs? 

Go with your gut and visit as may schools as possible. Shadow classes and ask everyone you see all the questions you can think of down to “How is the food in the cafeteria?” Also, research the program and really ask yourself is “This what I want to commit to for the next four years?”

What are some of your go-to audition songs?  Monologues? 

I think your song choice and material depends on the show you are going out for.

What is your favorite kind of candy?

CHOCOLATE.

If you could do anything else but act, what would it be?  Why? 

Art Curator. I have discovered some really great museums in New York and I have found a new passion for art. 

Merrily We Roll Along is partly about dreams.  What are some of your dreams? 

Oh, that could be a whole other section. One of my dreams for the theater world would be to originate a role on Broadway. A non-theater dream would be to move to a different country without knowing anyone and learn the language and customs and discover a new world. 

Do you have any upcoming projects or productions? 

Not in the immediate future but I will keep you posted!

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

Thanks for the nomination! 

2014 Best Student Actor Nominee Interview: Connor Baty as Charley Kringas in The Boston Conservatory's "Merrily We Roll Along"

Photo by Peter Hurley

Photo by Peter Hurley

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.

Connor Baty was a shining star in the outstanding production of The Boston Conservatory's Merrily We Roll Along, captivating audiences with his enthusiastic and sympathetic portrayal of the dreamer Charley Kringas. It was Connor's exceptional understanding of Sondheim's work and his ability to execute the difficult score that earned him an ArtsImpulse Theatre Award Nomination.  In his Interview, Connor talks about the positive effect of his Boston Conservatory education (especially the passionate professors), his favorite movies and books, and a little bit about a new cycling program that is quickly sweeping the nation (get on board, y'all!). 

Hiya, Connor. Can you introduce yourself?  Can you tell us a little bit about who you are, your performing background and experiences, and what you’re currently doing?

I grew up in Overland Park, Kansas.  I started seriously doing theatre when I made the jump from Catholic school to public school, and I found an amazing acting teacher who really set me on my path.  While so many high schools were doing Grease, Oklahoma, etc., we really sunk our teeth into some great material such as the original melodrama of Sweeney Todd and the heavy play Shadow Box.  Currently, I am living in Chicago.  Having spent 4 years in the east coast, it’s nice to be back in the Midwest.  Right now, I’m working at SoulCycle, an indoor cycling class, and on that working actor grind in Chi-town.

Tell us the story of Merrily We Roll Along.  What appealed to you about this musical?  About your character, Charley?

Merrily We Roll Along is the story of friendship, tried and tested.  It chronicles the journey of 3 friends (Frank, Charley, and Mary) whose working relationship eventually breaks down their personal relationships. 

What appealed to me about this show was, quite simply, the lyric genius of Sondheim.  I liken him to the musical Shakespeare, where his songs, although they seem difficult to sing, are actually quite simple.  He really lays everything out to you in the music and makes it so accessible to the actor. 

What I love about Charley is that he never truly gives up.  He is always reaching for what he knows could be there in his relationship with Frank, but he is also realistic.  He understands the limitations and understands what he wants out of life, something that I think Frank lacks.

Why do you think that this is a rarely-performed Sondheim?  Do you know what critics thought about early productions of it?  How did audiences at your production respond?

The show runs backwards in time.  I think this is initially why the show wasn’t accepted extremely well in its time.  But I also think that’s what makes this show special.  You start at such a dark place, but in the end you get to see the hope.  You get to see what could have been.  It really allows you to reflect on your own life and the choices you have made to get where you are.  I think it is especially poignant for young theatre students.  It deals with the idea that attaining your professional goals is important, but not nearly as important as maintaining the relationships with those who care about you.

Why did you choose to attend The Boston Conservatory?  What did you learn?  What was your training?  How is it helping you now?

I chose to attend The Boston Conservatory because of its faculty.  I can honestly say that I have met some of the most caring and nurturing people through BoCo.  Thank your teachers, y’all.  They work hard for you.

I emphasized in acting and directing and really discovered my passion for directing.  I think that the fast paced environment of BoCo helps you prepare for the intensity of the actor life.

How have people described your performing style?  What do you consider to be your strongest attribute?  Are you a singer, dancer, or actor?  Do you think that you have a weak point?

I think that I have been lucky to have teachers that always pushed my acting.  I always have strived to do everything in the most truthful and honest way I can. 

Definitely would not consider myself a dancer.  Just ask Sarah Crane, choreographer of Merrily, about my skills.

What do you dream about?

I dream about happiness.  I think that all those goals that we set for ourselves: fame, Broadway, television, etc., those are all nice.  But I think you first and foremost have to be happy with where you are.  And if you aren’t, then choose the path that will lead you there.

If you could live in any other time period, what would it be?  What would you do?

Maybe this is cheating the question, but I would stay where I am.  I think that there is such an excitement about the times we live in.  We still have ways to go, but we have never been closer as a nation and as world.  Complain all you want about the age of the internet, but I think it has brought us together and it has also brought to light some of the deep rooted issues in our society that we are finally talking about.

What are some of your favorite movies, TV shows, books, and theatre?  Let’s limit to Top 3 of each.

Ooh, that’s a tough one. 

Movies: I’m actually a huge fan of the original Star Wars. And just cause I’m a sucker for dumb humor I’ll say Scary Movie 3 and Bring it On All or Nothing

TV Shows: Lost, Game of Thrones, American Horror Story (honorable mention: Downton Abbey). 

Books: Harry Potter, duh. Anything by Chelsea Handler or David Sedaris. 

Theatre: Into the Woods, Macbeth, and Peter Pan (the play).

MerrilyWeRollAlong

What is the hardest thing about going from being a student to being a theatre professional?  What is one thing that you wish that someone had told you?

One of our mantras at SoulCycle is: “You are exactly where you need to be.” I think that so many young, recently graduated actors are so caught up in the idea that everything has to happen immediately.  But this is a lifelong profession, so the most important thing I have learned is to focus on the life part.  Be happy where you are, and don’t stress about the future.  Good things will come to people with open hearts.

How do you react to negative reviews or criticism?  What is the worst thing that anyone has ever said about one of your performances?

Hahaha!  Well, you’d have to get in touch with my acting teacher, Steve McConnell, on that.  I think, in general, I can sum up my junior year of acting class by me doing a Greek monologue and him throwing things at me.  But for real, he is an amazing teacher and I am so thankful to have had him in my life.

What is one quote that you try to live by?

One of our instructors at SoulCycle, Anthony McClain, always says in his class: “It’s not THAT you move, it’s HOW you move.”  Obviously that pertains to the actual work out, but I have also tried to implement that into my own life.  It’s not the product that matters, but the journey, and what you learn along the way.

Do you have any upcoming projects or productions?

I am just now finishing up my second show in Chicago called Down the Moonlit Path.  It’s an immersive production that portrays multiple children's stories from different countries intertwined together.  My next project is the show Bent and I have a couple films I’ve been shooting here and there. 

And then, of course, there’s SoulCycle.  If you haven’t tried SoulCycle yet I highly recommend it.  It will seriously change your life.  (Also there’s one coming to the city of Boston soon!!)