By Jeff LaBonte
Kathleen Meyer is no stranger to the stage. She has been singing an acting for years. At 17, she has already become something of fixture on the Central Mass. performing arts scene, appearing in over a dozen ten full scale productions and musical performances. She has played the fairy godmother in Cinderella, Lulu Warnicker in Footloose, Minnie Fay in Hello Dolly!, and the Wicked Witch of the West in Wizard of Oz. When she’s not performing on stage, Meyer might be found singing the National Anthem to kick off an area event.
Meyer will be a senior at Hudson High School, which she attends through school choice based on Hudson’s reputation for its strong performing arts programs. At HHS, she has appeared in Godspell, Into the Woods, and Cinderella, to name a few. She has also appeared in several productions with the Auburn Community Players, including You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. She has danced at Faucher Dance in Auburn, and studied voice with Silvia Irving at Pakachoag Music School.
Last fall, Meyer was accepted to the prestigious Boston Conservatory Vocal/Choral Intensive held each summer at the renowned institution. She spent much of this past year raising money to attend the program, starting Knits for Notes, putting her knitting hobby to profitable use. She sold a variety of knitted items on the internet and at local craft fairs. (You can read about her efforts HERE).
With her background in dance, voice and acting, Meyer has long dreamed of becoming a professional stage performer. Last Thursday, August 7, that dream came true as she appeared in the opening performance of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ at the Reagle Theatre in Waltham. And what a debut it has been; Reagle’s Singin’ in the Rain has garnered significant praise since its opening last Thursday night.
The Theater Mirror‘s Tony Annicone wrote that this is “An outstanding production of this classic musical treat.” Boston Events Insider proclaimed “An absolute home run from start to finish.” The Boston Globe added, “Kudos to Reagle for putting a couple dozen ensemble members onstage…when most theaters keep cast size to a minimum.”
Kat Meyer is one of those ensemble members making this show a hit. I finally caught up with her amidst her hectic schedule to talk to her about this experience.
AMD: You spent a lot of time the past year raising money to attend the competitive Boston Conservatory Vocal/Choral Intensive held this past July. Did the Intensive contribute to your successful audition for Singin’ in the Rain?
Meyer: Actually I auditioned before the Intensive. It was really just to gain some experience auditioning. About a month later I got an e-mail that I had been offered a part.
AMD: What part are you playing?
Meyer: I am in the ensemble, so I play several different roles. I get to do a lot of singing!
AMD: You have quite a bit of acting experience already. How is it making the leap from school drama programs and community theater to professional theater?
Meyer: It’s incredible. One big difference is the time. In community and school programs, the rehearsal times are limited, so the time frame is longer. In professional theater, there might be 12 hour days. But the show comes together quick. Most of the actors are professionals, then know what they’re doing, where to go. They’re all so incredibly talented.
AMD: It must be a great experience working with experienced professionals.
Meyer: Amazing. They have all been so, so nice. You hear stories about the equity actors (professional actors’ union) treating the non-equity people like me like dirt. But it hasn’t been like that at all. They are so open to questions, and just chilling with the non-equity performers.
AMD: There is a full orchestra playing the score for the show. How is that?
Meyer: It’s incredible how good they are. They are professionals, too, and they just play flawlessly every time. It’s kind of mind-blowing actually. Most of rehearsal there was just a keyboard, then suddenly there was all this music and it was like, wow!
AMD: How about the contacts and friendships you’re making.
Meyer: I’ve made a lot of new friendships, yeah. Some are Boston Conservatory students, some from other performing arts schools. I hope to go that route so it’s good to talk with
them. The experienced actors will talk to us about everything, like jobs you can do while working a theater schedule. I’ve really been treated like one of the gang. Sometimes everyone will go out for drinks, and I have to remind them that I’m 17!
AMD: It must be cool having professional costumes and props, instead of having to make them yourself out of cardboard and duct tape…?
Meyer: The costumes are amazing. There is a service in Kansas City, I think, and the theater tells them what we need, and that company sends us all the stuff, in the right sizes. All period costumes. It’s really nice. I hear there is a storage room in the basement [of the theater] where they have all these props. But I don’t know. I haven’t been down there.
AMD: So what is your favorite scene in the show?
Meyer: It has to be the “Singin’ in the Rain” scene at the end of Act I and the end of Act II. Not to sound cliche, but it is just incredible. They really make it rain on stage. Sean (Quinn) is singing and dancing through it all like he’s just loving every minute, just living in the moment. It’s such a great scene! Then these crews come out when the curtain drops and they clean up all the water and 20 minutes later it’s like the rain never happened.
AMD: You’re going to be a senior. What’s next?
Meyer: I want to attend a performing arts program. I need to get my audition material together. I’ll be working on that after we’re done with the show.
AMD: Any parting thoughts or words of advice, now that you’re a pro?
Meyer: Do what you love, and if you want it bad enough, you’ll earn it.
The show continues its run Thursday through Sunday of this week. As of this writing, there were still a limited number of tickets available for the Thursday, Saturday and Sunday performances. Friday night is sold out, and it seems likely the remaining shows will, as well, especially considering the recognition the show has garnered.