Carolyn Levy makes her Madison stage debut as quirky hairdresser Paulette Bonafonte. Keep reading to find out which "astonishing" musical inspires her, and why she calls herself a parrothead!
Are you a Madison native? If not, what brought you to the area?
No, prior to moving here in December 2016, I had only been to Madison once or twice before. I grew up in Brookfield, went to school in Stevens Point, and left the state for 15 years. I have family that now resides in Verona, so when the decision came to move back to Wisconsin, my Husband and I decided to take a chance on Madison, and we love it!
Have you done a show with Middleton Players before? If so, which one(s)? If not, what made you audition for this season?
This will be my first show with Middleton Players. My sister had done some shows in the past with MPT and that’s how I learned about the group. I had been looking to scratch the ‘theatre itch’ that had been missing from my life the last few years, and I’m very excited to be part of the show.
What do you enjoy about your character? In what ways are you similar or dissimilar to your character?
I love Paulette’s physical comedy and that despite having some struggles throughout her life, she continues to search for happiness with a glass half full approach, especially when it comes to helping others. She is also forthcoming, even brazen, in her thoughts with no internal monologue, and I’ve never had a chance to play someone like her before, so I’m looking forward to the challenge. Where we differ – I would definitely classify myself as an introvert that uses theatre as a way to communicate creatively, whereas Paulette is a true extrovert.
What do you do when you’re not performing/working in the theatre? Do you have a daytime job?
Yes, indeed I do. I love my job and am proud to be a part of my team. I am the Office and Starts Manager for Tim O’Brien Homes here in Madison. I’ve always had a love of houses and residential construction, so I was very fortunate to be hired with such a great employer when moving back to Wisconsin.
What theatrical work best describes you?
The song “Astonishing” from LITTLE WOMEN, as so often in my life I’d be looking for the next steps, not knowing what they were.
“I'll find my way. I'll find it far away. I'll find it in unexpected and unknown. I'll find my life in my own way. Today. Here I go, and there's no turning back. My great adventure has begun. I may be small, but I've got giant plans, to shine as brightly as the sun. I will blaze until I find my time and place. I will be fearless…I'll be Astonishing.”
…Also, a good song to belt out1
What is your favorite theatre memory?
In one of my first professional shows post college, I was performing as Anytime Annie in 42ND STREET in a Summer Stock Company in Illinois. Because it was so close, my family was able to drive down and see me tapping up a storm. My favorite theatre memories always tend to be when my family is watching and I know they are there with me, which is why LEGALLY BLONDE is so special: It will be the first time all my siblings’ spouses, my in-laws, and even my Husband will get a chance to watch me perform.
What was your strangest experience in theatre?
I was in repertoire theatre group in Montana performing a four-woman show called THE TAFFETAS (think FOREVER PLAID for woman). One of the ladies got very ill over the course of the first act and took a turn for the worse at intermission. We thought we were going to cancel the rest of the show, but she insisted that she would be able to complete the show if in a smaller facet – not a small thing to do when you are a quartet. We delayed the show for almost 45 minutes, with several of us taking turns to keep the audience revived by stepping on stage to sing or talk to them in character. When we finally were up and going again I had to jump into a few of the songs on the fly that were solos/duets that I was not originally a part of as did the other two woman. Thankfully this was halfway through the summer run, so we knew the show well enough, but over the course of the next few days the company had rehearsals each morning/afternoon before the following night’s performance to revamp the show without this actress with the four other shows that were running simultaneously. It certainly gave meaning to “The Show Must Go On!”
Give us a fun fact about yourself—do you have any special/hidden talents?
Fun fact: I’m a Parrothead! My then-boyfriend, now-husband, introduced me to Jimmy Buffet when we were first dating, and I got hooked. The two of us - having lived a combined time of over 30+ years in Florida - grew to love the beach, and our entire house is decorated to showcase this relaxed lifestyle at every turn – it’s one way to get us through these harsh Wisconsin winters. Our basement is complete with its own Tiki Bar, and has been painted in a giant beach mural to make it a truly unique scene!
What would you like audiences to know about this show?
Get ready! …because you will have fun, you will be singing on your way out the door, and you will be able to do the Bend-and-Snap!