We had the most fantastic opening weekend! We played to packed houses, the show was Jeff Recommended, and the critical response has been pretty rapturous so far. We also had the show photographed by photographer Cole Simon, and below are our official press photos. Didn't they turn out great?
- Where you were born/where were you raised: Born in Wheaton, IL, but moved to Northfield, MN, Bowling Green, KY, Atlanta, GA, Oxford, UK, and Grand Rapid, MI. For grad school I moved to Columbus, OH.
- Zodiac sign: Capricorn. Just like Jesus.
- What are/were the careers of your parents: My folks are academics, my father in Philosophy and my mother in Spanish.
- Do you have any Siblings?: I have an older sister and younger brother. I have all the typical middle child symptoms.
Where were you trained?: I am quite grateful to the children's theatre programs at in the Northfield Arts Guild, including summer theatre day camps, improv, and the Young People's Theatre Travelling Troupe. Because of the last, I was co-writing and co-producing new adaptations and original works by the time I was twelve. Also, the Northfield Children's Chorus for teaching me good breathing techniques at an early age. I have a BA in Communications from Calvin College and spent a good deal of my time in the Calvin Theatre Company. I have an MA in Theatre History/Lit/Crit and an MFA in Acting from The Ohio State University.
Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: I'm fond of singing "The Girl in 14 G" by Jeanine Tesori, and "Life Upon the Wicked Stage," by Jerome Kern. For monologues, I do one from Desperate Affection by Bruce Graham, and House of Blue Leaves by John Guarre.
What skill(s) are you excited to share with the audience of Shockheaded Peter?: I'm always, ALWAYS excited to sing. But for this show, I'm hoping I get to do some acro. I've only ever done acro as part of circus act, not as part of storytelling or theatre yet.
- Why did you want to be a part of Shockheaded Peter? I first heard of it back in 2003 when Improbable Theatre (Phelim McDermott & Julian Crouch) did a residency at Ohio State. Their show The Hanging Man was one of the best I've ever seen. I was excited to do a creepy show with circus skills and singing. Also, I've wanted to work with Ed again ever since we worked on Scandalous Behavior. It seems like the timing finally worked out!
- If you could go back in time and catch any show or performer, what would it be? Sarah Bernhardt. Eleonora Duse. Isadora Duncan. Helene Weigel.
- Current or recent show in Chicago (other than Shockheaded Peter) that you think is must-see: London Assurance at City Lit was my most recent current show; we got Jeff Recommended! We were delighted to have found a play that Chicago wasn't seen in over a hundred years and made it a delightful romp.
- Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "You Should See Her Fly" from Fanatical! "I Heard Someone Crying" from The Secret Garden; "All Grown Up" from Bare; "Mama Who Bore Me" from Spring Awakening.
Some favorite musicals: Spelling Bee. Avenue Q. Urinetown. Fanatical! The Cradle Will Rock. The Three Penny Opera.
Most played song in your music collection: of all time? "Precious Things" by Tori Amos; "Glory Box" by Portishead. recently? "Your Loves Whore" by Wolf Alice; "Here" by Alessia Cara.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden.
Worst onstage mishap: I was playing Paquette in Candide. Pangloss and I had a short scene where we ended up with him standing over me as though we were about to have sex; we had to freeze in that position while the focus was switched to another part of the stage. The actor playing Pangloss was bald and sweat dripped off his bald head and dripped right into my eyes and I couldn't move. I could only try to blink it away.
Worst costume ever: My wig playing Princess Jasmine in Disney's Aladdin Jr with Emerald City. It was painfully heavy and gave me headaches and neck aches. Opening performance, I was in a sequence where Jasmine is courted by suitors and rejects them. The bit required the actor playing the suitor to force me to tango and me to resist; during a turn, my enormous heavy wig came flying off my head. I caught it with my hand and held it to my head for the rest of the scene but the mishap still made into Chris Jones' review.
Worst job you ever had: I was managing the phones for a sprinkler system company. It was summer in the midwest. They were weeks behind and the customers were all frantic and angry. I was 16 and easily intimidated. The technicians all invariably insulted me and hit on me. The boss was impatient and angry. It was miserable.
- Craziest audition story: Callbacks for Be Twixt and Be Twain at The Human Race Theatre in Dayton in 2006. I drove up from Columbus and was feeling very odd and unpleasant. They kept us for hours, asking us to read again and again, and I worried that I would faint or vomit. Between readings, I would run to the bathroom wondering if I needed to pass out or throw up. They finally released us around 5 pm. I drove the 80 minutes back to Columbus, climbed up the back stairs of to my 3rd floor apartment, and vomited for several minutes, the vomit traveling all the way down to splatter on the ground. My apartment building was next to the premiere gay bar in Columbus and the drag queens out smoking in the back alley looked over and shook their heads at me. I did book the role.
- Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: Hotspur in Henry IV; George Washington in Hamilton; Claudia in Honor; Olive in Spelling Bee.
- What were you afraid of as a child? I think I allowed the media to tell me to be afraid of sharks, Freddy Krueger, serial killers. I let Fire Prevention week at school make me terrified of house fires. But I have this odd memory of being on a family vacation when I was 9. I was playing with other kids in the pool at a hotel. A boy about my age said, "What is your biggest fear? Mine is of being tortured" and then he proceeded to describe several hideous scenarios. He then asked again, "What's yours?" and I said, "Rejection, probably." I think he was disappointed. But damn, I was an old, sad, soul at 9.
Where you were born/where were you raised: I was born and raised in Rochester, NY
Zodiac sign: Pisces! But I don't think I act very much like a Pisces. Like, at all.
What are/were the careers of your parents? My father is a psychiatrist and my mother was a nurse. Not sure where I came from.
Do you have any Siblings? I have an older sister who is also a nurse.
Where were you trained? I received my BFA in Theatre Performance from the University at Buffalo. I also received some of my most valuable training at New York State Summer School of the Arts and at Geva Summer Academy, both programs for high school students in New York.
Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: Theresa Rebeck has been my go-to for years, she writes the way I speak!
What skill(s) are you excited to share with the audience of Shockheaded Peter?: I'm excited to play saxophone and to have the opportunity to dance!
Why did you want to be a part of Shockheaded Peter? I love theatre that is visually interesting, that finds different ways of expression other than just words!
If you could go back in time and catch any show or performer, what would it be? Lucille Ball.
Some favorite musicals: Peter Pan, Les Miz (I know, I know), The Wizard of Oz
Most played song in your music collection: The "Center Stage" soundtrack, and "I'll Make a Man out of You" from Mulan.
- Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Played a dinosaur family pet in The Skin of Our Teeth in high school, pretty much every prostitute role ever before the age of 15, Mrs. Peterson (at age 12) in Bye Bye Birdie.
- Worst onstage mishap: Before I had contact lenses, I would crash into set pieces during blackouts ALL. THE. TIME. Also one time my boob fell out my leotard during an aerial piece.
- Worst costume ever: In high school in a horrible musical called Starmites, I had to wear a unitard that was painted half black and half white, and I also had to paint my hair and face half black and half white. I looked very attractive.
- Worst job you ever had: I spent a holiday season in sales at a jewelry store, and would get harshly reprimanded for standing for two minutes without cleaning the glass cases, not selling credit cards with disgusting interest rates, and wearing inappropriate attire (it wasn't).
- Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: Anna in Lanford Wilson's Burn This.
- Where you were born/where were you raised: Springfield, Mo. same house the first 18 years of my life
- Zodiac sign: Capricorn
- What are/were the careers of your parents: father- union bricklayer Mother- secretary
- Do you have any Siblings?: One half-brother (we share a mom) and he's eleven years older than I am. I always say I'm half an only child, half youngest child.
- Where were you trained?: Landers (community) theatre in Springfield, Mo. Northwestern University's opera program and musical theatre certificate, Susan Hart and Jeffrey Carlson's Shakespeare and Chekhov classes, and ongoing assorted classes in Chicago.
- Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: Honestly, I hate everything I have, but I'm working on it.
- What skill(s) are you excited to share with the audience of Shockheaded Peter?: My ability (honed from years of avid Joss Whedon fandom) to appear deceptively in innocent at first and to end up not being at all what I seem.
- Why did you want to be a part of Shockheaded Peter? Ed has a knack for picking such interesting material that you don't often get the opportunity to see anywhere, much less here in the Midwest. I can't wait to see what we make out of this grotesquely funny poetry.
- If you could go back in time and catch any show or performer, what would it be? Young Julie Andrews at the top of her ingenue game.
- Current or recent show in Chicago (other Shockheaded Peter) that you think is/was must-see: Ragtime by Griffin at The Den and Pass Over at Steppenwolf. If you missed The Adding Machine by the Hypocrites, that was one of my favorites; so was Goodbye Cruel World by Strange Tree.
- Favorite showtune(s) of all time: Wouldnt It Be Loverly, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Losing My Mind, Make Our Garden Grow; I've recently become obsessed with Philippa Soo's recording of No One Else from The Great Comet.
- Some favorite musicals: My Fair Lady, A Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder, most any of Sondheim's or Gershwin's scores 13. Most played song in your music collection: Back Pocket by Vulfpeck
- Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Philia in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum when I was 17 at he community theatre / Mrs. Potts when I was 16 in my high school production of Beauty and the Beast.
- Worst onstage mishap: My Philia wig fell off mid-scene during our last Sunday matinee of Forum and I was wearing a nude wig cap so I looked bald. Luckily our Pseudolus was an improv instructor with his own school, and he came to the rescue: "That plague must be REALLY bad; they sure doll you girls up."
- Worst costume ever: My Fleurette the French Maid costume when I was 14 in my first community theatre production: Dirty Work at the Crossroads. I can't begin to describe how dowdy and ill-fitting it was. They pulled a floor length, straight cut, polyester black skirt and a long sleeved, high collared, black blouse from the costume loft, and I wore an apron over that. it was not cute.
- Worst job you ever had: I was the part time administrative assistant at a private equity firm in a high rise downtown that consisted of about fifteen 30- to 60-year-old, white men... who were actually fine. It was the other (female, of course) admin who was full time and our extremely high-strung, female supervisor who made the environment toxic by setting traps for me, never stopping to explain what they wanted then blowing up when things weren't done their way, micromanaging the simplest tasks, and the list goes on. I stayed in that position just shy of six months and my exit interview was with my supervisor because, along with technical and administrative supervisor, she was the HR department.
- Craziest audition story: I auditioned for a Chicago storefront company which shall remain nameless, and it was chaos from the second I stepped in the building. They took me into the room for my appointment, threw a song they had written (badly) at me to learn in front of them (fortunately, I'm a really strong sight reader, but it was in a range you would never expect a soprano to sing), and then did not tell me they'd seen all they needed. After I sang, they talked amongst themselves, one of them got up and left the room, and someone else brought a puppy in. I stood there for awhile wondering what to do, then asked if I could pet the dog. Meanwhile, they had brought their next actor in for her audition, and the auditors were acting like I was in their way. Once I noticed the other actor, I gave the pooch a scratch, thanked them, and ran out of there.
- Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: Eliza Doolittle, Harper from Angels in America, Cass from Wonder of the World, Fred from the TV series Angel, Amy Adams' entire career (yes, even her role as Debra Messing's bratty sister in The Wedding Date), every character written by Jane Austen
- What were you afraid of as a child? the dark, strangers, playground slides, roller coasters (still am), the death of a parent (still am), gorillas, the Are You Afraid of the Dark series on Nickelodeon, the waterfall you had to walk under at the main entrance to Bass Pro.
Where you were born/where were you raised: Born and raised in Corinth, Mississippi
Zodiac sign: Virgo
Do you have any Siblings?: Yes, one younger sister Heather
Where were you trained?: Masters in Music at Roosevelt University CCPA and Bachelors in Music at The University of Mississippi
Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: I've been using a Phoebe speech from As You Like It recently. There's also a song from Smash I've been using...perhaps too frequently
What skill(s) are you excited to share with the audience of Shockheaded Peter? I am excited to use my sassy-direct-address-to-the-audience skills to make everyone squirm in their seats, hopefully
Why did you want to be a part of Shockheaded Peter? I've loved every Black Button Eyes project I've been involved with and this material is just so darn juicy and disturbing, my favorites!
Current or recent show in Chicago (other than Shockheaded Peter) that you think is must-see: The Nance (Pride Films and Plays)
Some favorite musicals: Assassins and She Loves Me
Most played song in your music collection: probably I Can't Stand the Rain by Tina Turner (my queen)
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: First role was my senior year in high school. I was the scarecrow in a really bizarre version of The Wizard of Oz called The Magical Land of Oz
Worst onstage mishap: I fell off the stage in an college production of She Loves Me. It was super awkward because I was playing the smooth bad boy womanizer Kodaly. Can't make that look cool.
Worst costume ever: any of the shows where I only wore a towel, there's like three of those. Now that I think about it though, they weren't really that bad. I certainly didn't get hot in them.
Worst job you ever had: retail job at Express, blah!
Craziest audition story: I nearly hit the music director in the head with my shoe as I dramatically kicked it off mid-scene. But hey, booked the gig anyway!
Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: Hedwig and Iago (now that I write that, I realize those are also two of my favorite fictional birds)
What were you afraid of as a child? Whatever was hiding under the bed. I'd do that thing where I'd attempt to jump from my bedroom door to my bed.
- Where you were born/where were you raised: Originally from Lebanon, Indiana, I moved here when I was 16 to go to a performing arts HS. I thought it would be just like FAME. It was not.
- Zodiac sign: Does it matter?
- What are/were the careers of your parents: Well, my Dad was a drywall man and worked other general construction odd jobs. My mom worked a few places; Wellman Plastics (until she lead a revolt and everyone quit). She worked at the diner in the mall for a while, a fast food joint, at the Lobo (local bar) and a bunch of other places before my grandpa died and left her and my grandma and aunt money which they used to open their own loose meat restaurant.
- Do you have any Siblings?: Nope
- Where were you trained?: Young Actors Theatre in Indianapolis, IN by Charlotte Kaufman from the ages of 6-12. Then a bunch of other workshops and classes and performing arts high school and college at UIC, but, like, mostly it all happened at YAT.
- Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: I literally only ever sing “When You’re Good To Mama” and, if forced, will do a monologue from whatever show I’m in at the moment. I’m really not good at this.
- What skill(s) are you excited to share with the audience of Shockheaded Peter?: My ability to look like a deranged toddler and creep people out with my face and abnormally large eyeballs.
- Why did you want to be a part of Shockheaded Peter? I saw it when The Tiger Lillies brought it to Chicago a million years ago. That performance and the music have stuck with me every day since. It was so powerful and weird and magical and creepy and unlike anything I’d ever seen onstage before. I love it so much. SO. MUCH.
- If you could go back in time and catch any show or performer, what would it be? I’d like to go back in time to watch Anthony watch Judy.
- Current or recent show in Chicago (other Shockheaded Peter) that you think is must-see: Well, it’s a little known show and not many people know about it yet, but there’s this really great new show called Hamilton that I think everyone should check out as soon as possible!
- Favorite show tune(s) of all time: “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy and “I Know Where I’ve Been” from Hairspray.
- Some favorite musicals: Have you heard of Hamilton?
- Most played song in your music collection: I’m a TV watcher not a music listener. Most played TV show? Roseanne (see question 3).
- Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: MY VERY FIRST PERFORMANCE. I was 5 years old and playing Mary in the Lebanon Lutheran Church Christmas pageant. I had one line and was supposed to pick-up Baby Jesus and walk down the aisle. The little shit playing Joseph knocked me down, ripped Baby J from my arms, said my line and walked his ass down the aisle. It was dramatic AF. I was hooked.
- Worst onstage mishap: See question 14. Also, one time my dear friend Anthony fell through our trailer onstage and damn near broke his arm while dressed like a redneck cheerleader. It was pretty traumatic for all of us. She’s ok though.
- Worst costume ever: No such thing.
- Worst job you ever had: Wellman Plastics
- Craziest audition story: One time I auditioned for a new company for a show that I really wanted to do and I was doing a Neil Gaiman poem and I blanked and said “FUCK” (twice) then started over then forgot my song (which was from The Devil’s Carnival) and was a total all around spaz. That show was Coraline and it was my first time working with Ed and Black Button Eyes.
- Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: All of them. I’m a big fan of the “cry & die” roles.
- What were you afraid of as a child? I AM TERRIFIED OF GIANT THINGS. MOSTLY ANIMATRONICS AND STATUES AND STUFF THAT SHOULDN’T BE GIANT LIKE THAT FROG ON TOP OF THE RAINFOREST CAFÉ AND THAT GIANT “OUR LADY OF THE MILENNIUM” STATUE AND THAT GIANT ELMO THAT USED TO BE ON TOP OF THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM. I AM USING ALL CAPS BECAUSE THAT IS HOW SCARY IT IS. Also home invasion.
1. Where you were born/where were you raised? Greenville, SC. Home of Jesse Jackson, Joanne Woodward and Polyester.
2. Zodiac sign? Cancer
3. What are/were the careers of your parents? Circus Sideshow People.
4. Do you have any Siblings?: Yes, did I mention Circus Sideshow People? My sister carries on the family business.
5. Where were you trained?: Second City Conservatory, South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts, the mean streets.
6. Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: No way! Steal my monologue and I'll cut a bitch.
7. What skill(s) are you excited to share with the audience of Shockheaded Peter?: Shadow Puppetry and Gymnastic Ribbons.
8. Why did you want to be a part of Shockheaded Peter? Because it is some messed up literature and I love it.
9. If you could go back in time and catch any show or performer, what would it be? Carnegie Hall, April 23, 1961 at 8:30 pm to see our Lord and Saviour, Judy Garland , give the greatest performance in the History of the World.
10. Current or recent show in Chicago (other Shockheaded Peter) that you think is must-see: Lady X at Hell In A Handbag!
11. Favorite showtune(s) of all time: Pirate Jenny from the Threepenny Opera
12. Some favorite musicals:
- Evita, 2. Threepenny Opera 3. Mame, 4. A Chorus Line, 5. Once On This Island, 6. Sunday In the Park with George
13. Most played song in your music collection: Music never stops playing in my world.
14. Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Being a Beggar in Threepenny Opera.
15. Worst onstage mishap: Falling off a platform and knocking down half of a flat of trailer dressed as a redneck cheerleader.
16. Worst costume ever: I was hired to dress as a Genie in a gold lame Genie costume at a casino welcoming people to the new parking garage. A part of me died that day.
17. Worst job you ever had: See above.
18. Craziest audition story: Imagine a fresh-faced 19 year old me showing up and singing "Who Will Buy" from Oliver, only to find out that the show was a drama with four African-American female characters.
19. Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: Mama Rose
20. What were you afraid of as a child? Rod Stewart
I'm beyond thrilled to share the results of our photo shoot, taken by Cole Simon. A few of our cast members, Kevin Webb, Gwen Tulin and Caitlin Jackson, got decked out in the finery our costume designer Beth Laske-Miller put together, with a guest cameo by yours truly as a certain claw. Check these out- I'm so, so happy with them and they really capture both the mood and how cool the show will be!
- Where you were born/where were you raised? I was born in Downers Grove, IL and raised in Lisle, IL (both are in the western suburbs of Chicago)
- Zodiac sign? Aries
- What are/were the careers of your parents? My father owns a flooring business & my mother was a teacher + swimming and diving coach
- Do you have any Siblings?: I have six sisters and one brother (I'm the 6th child)
- Where were you trained?: For school, I studied theatre and Russian language at Northern Illinois University and the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia. I've taken other classes at various other places since graduating: Shakespeare with Susan Hart and Jeffrey Carlson, Aloft Circus, Actors Gymnasium, Bristol Renaissance Faire, MACE Stage Combat Courses, Clown with Victor Quezada- Perez through Trap Door Theatre - to name a few.
- Current favorite audition song or monologue to use: Neely from "The Secret Lives of Losers" - a contemporary monologue
- What skill(s) are you excited to share with the audience of Shockheaded Peter?: Stilt walking & dancing
- Why did you want to be a part of Shockheaded Peter? I had never heard of the musical until the audition. When I read more into it and saw how Black Button Eyes wanted to incorporate interesting skills, I became very excited and wanted to be a part of it. I don't often get to break out my more bizarre skills on stage! It has also been a long time since I've done musical theatre which is very exciting!
- Current or recent show in Chicago (other Shockheaded Peter) that you think is must-see: I don't have a particular show currently in mind, but I always suggest looking into productions done by Steep Theatre and Manual Cinema. They do high quality/ beautiful work.
- Some favorite musicals: Hard to pick, but since I was a kid I've always had a soft spot for "The Music Man"
- Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: I played Winnie the Pooh for a community theatre in Naperville my sophomore year of high school
- Worst onstage mishap: I was in a haunted house and working a room where myself and other performers would wear these masks and dart around the room (towards patrons) with foam weapons. The masks had poor periphery vision. Another performer and I collided, I tripped over his back leg (in front of audience members), tore a muscle in my ankle, and had to hobble back stage. Several months of physical therapy followed.
- Worst job you ever had: Jimmy Johns
- Craziest audition story: Around the Holidays a couple years ago, a friend who had discovered I was having trouble finding a decent Christmas tree I could afford offered me a small fake one she said she never used. The night and area she said she would be in Chicago and could drop it off happened to be the night and location I had an audition. She said she would meet up with me beforehand. I was under the impression that this tree was very small (by the way she talked about it). I pictured it to be 2 ft at the tallest and easy enough to carry/ stow to the side when I arrived at my audition. So when she showed up with a 4 ft tall tree (all put together because she couldn't find the box and it still had it's lights wrapped around it) I wasn't sure how this was going to pan out. It's not every day you get to walk into an audition with a Christmas tree and have the monitor and others auditioning look at you like you're crazy. I was very happy to have the tree, but I didn't get a callback to that show...
- Role(s) you’ve been dying to play: Peter Pan
Our awesome costume designer, Beth Laske-Miller, shared with me some photos of the costumes she's put together for our Shockheaded Peter photo shoot this weekend. These may still evolve or be switched out before they're used in the final production- but aren't they terrific? : - )