As the Kentucky Center celebrates its 30th anniversary season, Center staff have been discussing how they entered this business and when they felt their first "arts crush." Kate Barry from our box office provided this account.
I believe I was 8 or 9 years old when my mom took my sister, grandmother and I to see the traveling production of Oscar Hammerstein's Show Boat at the Kentucky Center in Whitney Hall. Forget Elphaba flying high in the air or a bunch of dancers prancing in feline inspired spandex! When Joe hit that low note in "Old Man River" in front of that humongous river boat, I knew I was seeing something special.
I quickly went on to discover Andrew Lloyd Webber and his Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. And let me just tell you, I became addicted to that show. I made that show my life, remembering every single color of Joe’s coat, and even coming up with my own choreography to Benjamin’s calypso.
My musical theatre dreams came true when I got cast as a member of the children’s chorus at a local high school production when I was in 8th grade. It was awesome! I even got to skip school for rehearsal and performances. Oh those performances.. I got bit by the acting bug, for sure.
But perhaps the most crush-worthy moment of my life came between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. A good friend of mine was buzzing about her apprenticeship at the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival from the year before and how she performed with REAL actors on a REAL stage in Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night. At age 15, I had never heard of Twelfth Night, but Romeo and Juliet impressed the heck out of me. So I begged my parents to let me join the apprentice program that summer. And after a month of waiting, the apprentice coordinator called me and said I was to perform as "Mercade" in Love's Labours Lost. I had 3 lines at the end and was way past stoked!
Since Kentucky Shakespeare Festival still ran shows in repertory in 2001, I helped out with set construction, sewed buttons onto the lovers' Grecian garb, and did anything else requested of me for the production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Plus Curt Tofteland was my director, and that was pretty cool too. By the opening of Midsummer Night’s Dream, I knew I was a part of something very special.
As a high school freshman, my school’s theater program fell victim to the dreaded stereotypes of pre-casting and favoritism. Having auditioned that year for copious shows and falling short, the opportunity to join one of the most reputable Shakespeare companies in the nation still brings me pride and that experience and those memories will be with me forever. That summer performing in Louisville's Central Park truly changed my life.
This account is part of a series. You can read the other accounts here on the blog by typing "My Arts Crush" into the Search box in the upper right-hand corner of this page. We'd love to hear about your Arts Crush and invite you to share your story on our Facebook page.