Come and Meet: Sara Bartlett

Sara Bartlett is serving double-duty as our choreographer and a member of the cast! In this blog post Sara talks about her character, Andy Lee, her favorite part of the rehearsal process, and why 42nd Street is important to her.

Are you a Madison native?

Yes, I was born and raised in Verona.

Have you done any shows with Middleton Players Theatre before?

I first performed with Middleton Players Theatre in 1997's Crazy for You. Since then, I have choreographed eight MPT shows, performed briefly in two, and joined the Board of Directors as Executive Choreographer.

What do you do when you’re not performing or working in the theatre?

I work part-time at my family's construction company, and keep busy with my two kids Paige (7) and Guy (4). I also teach Pilates and the occasional dance class.

What do you enjoy about playing Andy Lee? Are there any challenging aspects to portray?

First of all, Andy Lee is a male character…and I am not! Aside from that, we have a lot in common in that we are both choreographers who work with the dancers to get a show performance ready. I'm essentially playing myself on stage. The biggest difference between Andy and myself, however, is his demeanor; it has definitely been a challenge being "mean" to my dancers and not smiling all the time!

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?

When all of the choreography is done. That sounds terrible! But once the choreography is taught and solidified, that is when the real magic happens. I am always amazed by–and so proud of–how my dancers are able to elevate my choreography into something beyond what I could ever imagine.

What would you like audiences to know about this show?

42nd Street holds a very special place in my heart. Not only did I meet my husband during Verona Area High School's 1996 production of the show, but it was also my first taste of being a choreographer. It is truly an honor to be able to revisit this musical. And I hope I am able to somehow recreate and pass along the inspiring experience I had with 42nd Street–to both this incredible cast and our audiences.

BONUS: What's one thing most people wouldn't know about you?

Nerd alert: I was captain of my high school's math team.

Don’t miss your chance to come see Sara this weekend in 42nd Street! Performances are June 29-July 2 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased here.

Come and Meet: Nathan Lucas

Nathan Lucas is our Billy Lawlor in 42nd Street. A recent high school graduate, Nathan tells us about his favorite musical, what he enjoys about his character, and his strangest experience in the theatre.

Are you a Madison native?

I'm a born Wisconsinite that spent most of my early childhood in Florida, and I moved back to Madison when I was eight. I've been here ever since.

Have you done any shows with Middleton Players Theatre before? What made you audition for us this season?

This is my first production with MPT, and I was dying to get my tap shoes back on my feet.

What is your favorite Broadway musical?

Dear Evan Hansen. No more words.

What is your favorite theatre memory?

My first ever sitzprobe. I was ten years old, having never done a production of any kind, and I walk into a huge room with a 32-piece orchestra bellowing "Buenos Aires" from Evita. It was magical.

What is your strangest experience in theatre?

I was in a production of Into the Woods, and during one performance my friend scattered pictures of David Hasselhoff throughout the stage in places only I could see them. It was a tough night.

What do you enjoy the most about the role of Billy Lawlor?

Billy is such a fun character. There's a lot about him on the surface that is easy to portray, but I've had a fun time searching for who Billy really is underneath all his confidence and poise.

What would you like the audience to get out of 42nd Street?

To look past some of the stereotypes portrayed in the show. The point of this show is to honor the style of productions they put on almost 100 years ago, and to show how ensembles make musicals what they are.

BONUS: Give us a fun fact about yourself!

I got a callback for the role of Michael in Billy Elliot in Chicago, but didn't make the cut because I was two inches too tall.

Don’t miss your chance to come see Nathan in our upcoming production of 42nd Street! Performances are June 29-July 2 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased here.

Come and Meet: Gina Jorgenson

Gina Jorgenson will be portraying Maggie Jones, one of the co-writers of Pretty Lady, the show-within- a show of 42nd Street. A music and theater teacher, this is her first acting role in twelve years! Learn a little bit more about Gina below, including her most embarrassing memory in the theatre.

Are you a Madison native?

I'm originally from Deerfield, WI, and currently live in Sun Prairie. I decided to do the show in Middleton because the Sun Prairie summer shows were only for kids!

Have you done any shows with Middleton Players Theatre before?

This is my first show acting with Middleton Players Theatre, and the first show I've acted in since 2005. I was Assistant Director for last season's production of Sunday in the Park with George. I wanted to audition because having three kids (Melanie-10, Daniel-7, and Charlotte-2) and a full-time teaching job makes it difficult for me to be in shows during the school year!

What do you do when you’re not performing or working in the theatre?

I teach music and theater at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic School in Sun Prairie, WI. I am in charge of teaching K-5 general music and 6-8 choir. I started an after school theater and improv group for students in grades K-4 called Rising Stars, and I direct/produce a full musical every other year for grades 5-8. This year, we just got done with Bye Bye Birdie!

What is your favorite theatrical work?

My favorite shows are anything by Jason Robert Brown because the music is so complex. If I can't play or sing the chord progression on first listen, I am truly intrigued by the music. My all-time favorite is The Last 5 Years because the character Cathy is so tragic!

What is your strangest experience in theatre?

I'll talk about my most embarrassing performance moment…I was in the Kids from Wisconsin for five summers. My third year, we did a country medley that required a quick change (I can't remember if it was before or after the number). At any rate, our tops were held together with Velcro. My partner at one show looks at me, looks, down, looks at me with wide eyes and mouths "your shirt." Yup, it was open for the whole world to see.

What do you enjoy the most about Maggie Jones? Are there any challenging aspects to portray?

I like the character of Maggie because she's not too serious, she gets to be a little gaudy, and she has some funny jokes in the show. The challenge is that I have to go against all of my vocal teachings and be as much like Ethel Merman (my idol) as possible.

What do you eat/drink before and after doing a show?

I haven't been in a show in twelve years… I anticipate I will be eating fruits and veggies and avoiding dairy. Or I may be so nervous that I won't eat anything…

What would you like audiences to know about this show?

I feel this show exemplifies the spirit of the Broadway musical because it's a show about making music in the Great Depression; even though everyone was sad, poor, and down on their luck, there was still music and dancing and singing that could help people escape those feelings. In these uncertain times, we still come back to art and music because it makes us feel something!

BONUS: If you didn't have to worry about money, what would you do?

If I didn't have to worry about money, I'd be a baby cuddler at the hospital and go visit prisoners in jail who had no family.

Don’t miss your chance to come see Gina's return to the stage in our upcoming production of 42nd Street! Performances are June 29-July 2 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased here.

Come and Meet: Amy Ruth

Amy Ruth will be Annie Reilly (also known as "Anytime Annie") in our upcoming production of 42nd Street. A native of Ft. Worth, Texas, Amy fell in love with Madison while attending her sister's wedding, and has been here for nine years. We asked Amy to answer a few questions about her strangest theatrical experience, her dance history, and what she likes the most about her character.

Have you done any shows with Middleton Players Theatre before?

I played Cassie in A Chorus Line in 2014.

What do you do when you’re not performing or working in the theatre?

I work at lululemon athletica in Hilldale Mall, and I'm also training to be an instructor at The Barre Code.

What is your favorite theatrical work?

I'm a dancer first, so anything with dance in it I love.

What is your favorite theatre memory?

Definitely performing on the Great Stage at Radio City Music Hall! There's nothing else like it.

What is your strangest experience in theatre?

While performing in Atlanta with the Rockettes, we had to enter from the audience for our ragdoll number. The only way for us to get from backstage to the lobby was a path that led us through the men's restroom. Imagine eighteen women in puffy dresses and giant orange wigs traipsing past the urinals. I think we actually surprised a guy once. It was pretty funny and very strange.

How long have you been dancing?

My whole life, but professionally I danced for fifteen years.

What musical theatre song do you shamelessly belt out?

"Gimme Gimme" from Thoroughly Modern Millie.

What do you enjoy the most about Annie Reilly?

I love her spunk and sass! I also love that she's the one who kind of pulls everyone together to fight for the show to go on. She's got a lot of moxie!

What would you like audiences to know about the show?

That we are having a blast and hope they do too!

BONUS: Give us a fun fact about yourself!

I am an excellent baker!

 

Don’t miss your chance to come see Amy in our upcoming production of 42nd Street! Performances are June 29-July 2 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased here.

Come and Meet: Gavin Waid

Gavin Waid will be playing Bert Barry in our upcoming production of 42nd Street. Last month, he played Malcolm in our production of The Full Monty, and will also be appearing as Henry Ford in Ragtime.

Are you a Madison native?

No, I moved to the Madison area from Orlando, Florida in 2014 to pursue my master's degree in vocal performance. After graduation, I ended up sticking around.

What do you do when you’re not performing or working in the theatre?

I work as a catty receptionist for a law firm downtown.

What is your favorite theatrical work?

Opera: Così fan Tutte by Mozart. The vocal ensembles never fail to give me goosebumps. The music is absolutely perfect, even if the plot is problematic.

Musical Theatre: I have a lot of wonderful memories of watching Gigi on TV with my grandfather and listening to him sing along, so that's what I'd have to say.

What is your favorite theatre memory?

I'm not sure if this technically counts, but I worked retail for Cirque du Soleil for three years in Orlando. While working there, I was able to participate in a staff cabaret and a Michael Jackson flash mob. You can catch glimpses of me (very quick ones) in the Michael Jackson flash mob supercut on Cirque du Soleil's YouTube account. It's definitely one of the coolest things I've ever done.

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?

The sitzprobe! It’s so much fun to finally sit down with the orchestra and sing through the entire show. It’s the most exciting part of the process, for sure.

What would you like the audience to know about 42nd Street?

It's really everything you want in a musical! There's dancing, catchy songs, a show-within-a-show…really, what more could you ask for?

What do you enjoy about playing Bert Barry? Are there any aspects of the character you are finding challenging to portray?

Bert is an interesting character. He doesn’t say much in the scope of the show, but when he does, you can tell that he has a lot of love for Pretty Lady, and all of the actors involved with it. The most challenging part of playing this role, though, is making him a real character with the little bit of dialogue given.

BONUS: Give us a fun fact about yourself!

I am double-jointed in my right shoulder, both of my elbows, and almost all of my knuckles! Does that count?

 

Don’t miss your chance to come see Gavin in our upcoming production of 42nd Street! Performances are June 29-July 2 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2895782.

Come and Meet: Meghan Hilker

Our Dorothy Brock will be portrayed by Meghan Hilker. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Meghan moved to Madison in 2014 to earn a master's degree in voice performance at the University of Wisconsin.  A self-described Middleton Players Theatre “rookie,” Meghan took the time to answer some questions about her character, her favorite shows, and what our audience should expect from the production.

What do you do when you’re not performing or working in the theatre?

I teach voice and piano lessons.

What is your favorite theatrical work?

Opera: Little Women by Mark Adamo. Musical Theatre: It’s super cheesy, but I really enjoy Spamalot

What musical theatre song do you shamelessly belt out?

“Red and Black” from Les Mis.

What is your favorite theatre memory?

When I was in high school, we did Seussical. I was only in the chorus as a Jungle Citizen, but it was probably the most fun I ever had on stage.

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal process?

Observing. I really enjoy watching a show come together - seeing the actors make new choices and then finally just having a lot of fun with it.

What would you like the audience to know about 42nd Street?

It is going to be fabulous and you simply must come. ;)

What do you enjoy about playing Dorothy? Are there any aspects of the character you are finding challenging to portray?

I love playing characters like Dorothy. She’s got the confidence of a hundred divas, but with maybe half of their talent. The challenging part of becoming Dorothy is that she is much more complex than she appears. She takes up a lot of space, and a lot of hot air, but we catch glimpses of her that suggest she wasn’t always that way. That’s what makes her interesting to play. The overbearing diva is certainly fun to play, but she’s gotta have a heart.

BONUS: What’s your favorite animal?

The cheetah.

 

Don’t miss your chance to come see Meghan in our upcoming production of 42nd Street! Performances are June 29-July 2 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2895782.