5 Questions with Kalyse Connor, who is "the Leading Player" in North Carolina Theatre's Upcoming Production of "Pippin"
Starting July 6th and running through the 8th, the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory, which is North Carolina Theatre’s flagship training program for budding young actors, will present Pippin at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theatre at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
All actors in the production are participants in the NC Theatre Conservatory’s Master Summer Theatre Arts School. They range from middle school students to rising college students, and all have had the distinction of taking part in a four week summer camp that focuses on pre-professional theatre arts training of the highest caliber.
Here at Triangle Arts Review, we were lucky enough to get an interview with Kalyse Connor, who is “the Leading Player” in the show.
What do you love most about your role?
Kalyse has a major role in the production, and she explains her “Leading Player” character and what she likes about that character very well. She says: “The character is very much this elusive and mysterious being that really runs the whole operation of the show. She acts as the narrator for a lot of the production and is able to guide Pippin along his journey, giving advice and reassurance along the way. What I love most about the character is the fact that so much is unknown about her. I have an incredible amount of leeway in creating my version of the Leading Player- which is all any actor could ask for.”
What is the most challenging thing about your role?
Despite her obvious love and excitement for her character, Kalyse doesn’t try to hide the fact that preparing for her part in “Pippin” has been a challenge. First, the show is very famous, so Kalyse says she worries about whether or not she can “measure up to all of the amazing men and women who have once played this role.” Plus, as she explains further, “This show is a monster! It’s very physically and emotionally demanding.”
What are you most excited for the audience to see?
While the hard work isn’t quite over yet, Kalyse’s efforts are about to pay off when the show opens tonight. Kalyse can’t wait for people to see what she and the rest of the cast and crew have created. She says, “I’m excited for the audience to see our take on the show! It’s not like anything anyone has ever seen before, and that’s what makes it ours. With the Fosse inspired choreography, big dance numbers, small intimate scenes, and a lot of mystery, I’m excited to fully involve the audience in this crazy journey!”
What preparation have you done for your role?
For Kalyse, this weekend’s performances will be the culmination of much effort. She has been preparing for the role in major ways since she found out she got it. She says she started her preparation by “watching clips from the show, sifting through the script, and developing a complex backstory.” Now, though, her focus is on “building up stamina and keeping my voice in a healthy place- as the role is incredibly demanding.” She also says that she has “done a lot of character work as well as some physical and emotional exercises that help me to fully understand my character and completely immerse myself into the world that is Pippin.”
How has this program helped you to grow as a budding young artist?
While the past month might have been one full of grueling, intense work, it was also a time of learning and great growth for Kalyse and her castmates. She says that, “Other than allowing me the chance to grow as a person and truly find my place in the arts, Master STAS has given me all the tools I’ll need to prepare me for the real world of theatre. We are encouraged to not only thrive as people, but to be unafraid to take risks and make big choices in our lives, as well as in the rehearsal process. We are taught the importance of the process, and to fully appreciate everything that goes on backstage just as much as what we create on stage. We are taught everything we need to know, then given the freedom to make our own discoveries. I feel more experienced and prepared to take on college or a career in the arts because of all the training I’ve received here. Because of Master STAS, I have learned the art of being a performer and being a good person.” And, really, what could be a better lesson than that?
To see Kalyse and the rest of the cast and crew showcase all that they’ve accomplished this month, make sure to get your tickets to Pippin, opening tonight!
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