Q: Where are you from and where did you receive your training in theatre?
I am from a small town a little south of Saratoga, New York. I was very lucky to begin an informal training in theatre in my childhood home watching TCM with my grandmother and going to Shakespeare plays with my father every summer. I received my B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from SUNY Fredonia in 2019.
Q: Katelyn, you’re a returning Resident Actor this season! What have you been most excited about with joining Charleston Stage for a second year?
Coming back to Charleston Stage, especially after the shutdown, feels like coming home. This theatre company and community is so special and being able to come back as a second year Resident Actor is an absolute privilege. Being a part of shows like Black Pearl Sings! and Bright Star, where I was pushed artistically is something I was (and still am) excited for. One of the most rewarding parts of coming back has been working with our new CityStage program. Myself and the other Resident Actors have been teaching theatre in schools we may have otherwise never been able to go to. We’ve been able to tour Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook (which was also my directorial debut) and seeing the response from the kids has been the greatest reward.
Q: You are playing the role of Susannah in Black Pearl Sings! How has this experience been for you with preparing for this role?
Black Pearl Sings! is unlike any other show I have ever worked on. It has been such an intimate and invigorating process. In most rehearsals there have been less than 5 people in the room, where the last show I was in there were 50. Being in a full-length show with just one other actor is an intimidating prospect- it’s a lot of lines to memorize! But I have been so lucky to work with wonderful and encouraging artists in every aspect on stage and off. (and I got to learn how to play the autoharp which was really fun!!!)
Q: What qualities of Susannah do you most connect with?
I think Susannah is a very complicated person. She is guarded, driven, passionate and quick to anger. But in playing her I’ve found she is also self-conscious, has a very tender soul and is guarding more than her own fair share of secrets. I connect with her love of music and probably every other aspect of her in different ways on different days. She has blind spots, especially with Pearl and on things she’s not an “expert” in, and I know I do and probably always will too. But at her heart I think she is a very hurt woman trying to find her way in a world and time that was not made for her.
Q: Why do you think Black Pearl Sings! is relevant for audiences today?
How often do you get to see a play or really any form of entertainment focusing exclusively on two strong women? And they’re not fighting over a man! There are an infinite amount of lessons to be taken from Black Pearl Sings! and even though it takes place about 90 years ago, we can still see these characters today. These fights over heritage and ownership are still happening and are incredibly valid. In every show I am a part of I hope the audiences will implement that very old Shakespearean quote and hold the mirror up as twere nature. In layman’s terms: I hope they see themselves on stage. Maybe in Pearl or Susannah or just in the struggle of fighting for your family or their independence. I hope they leave the theatre full of music and maybe singing a song or two.
Performances of Black Pearl Sings! run March 9th – 27th at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, CLICK HERE.