In Part two of a series of interviews with the cast of Sterling Playmakers’ OLIVER! meet Madeline Curtis.
Joel: Please tell our readers where they may have seen you appear on our local stages and roles you have played.
Madeline: I have appeared in many musicals around Loudoun County, but its been about five years since my last one since I went to school for Vocal Performance at The Catholic University of America, I was doing all operas there and around DC. Some of my roles when I was doing musicals and plays included: Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, Johanna in Sweeney Todd, Eponine in Les Miserables, Beth March in Little Women, and Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest. I also made it to Hollywood back in Season 9 of American Idol.
Why did you want to appear in The Sterling Playmakers’ OLIVER!? Have you ever appeared in a production of OLIVER!? And if so-how is this production different and similar?
I was super excited when I saw a Facebook post about auditions, because I actually have been in OLIVER! before as the same role (Nancy) back in high school. Once I got the role with Sterling Playmakers I immediately started studying the role again and reanalyzing her character. Theatre is so amazing in the fact that you can have the chance to revisit and dive back into a character with new perspective. This production is very different in terms of characterization for me, because seven years have passed since I played Nancy in high school so approaching the role this time around is significantly unlike how “high school me” would have. There seems to be much more depth and a better understanding being Nancy, because of my further life and theatre experience.
Who are you playing and how do you relate to your character? Have you brought any personal experiences to your performance?
I am playing the role of Nancy. I relate to her in many ways in terms of personality, mean, I’m definitely not as brash as her, but I relate to her resilient nature with certain instances I’ve gone through in my personal life. That being said, I did have trouble relating to her in terms of her abusive relationship with Bill Sykes. I have never had the personal experience of being in an abusive relationship, but have known others who have been. It’s something I would never wish on anybody, but knowing the few people I do who have experienced gave me insight into the mentality of willingness.
How have Directors Ashley Kinney and Kim VanArtsdalen helped you to mold your performance? What challenges have you had preparing for your role and how did your directors help you with these challenges?
Ashley and Kim helped me tremendously in helping me create the Nancy I’ll be for the performances. Ashley gave me so many helpful pointers for “As Long as He Needs Me” especially. It was wonderful the way she approached me about minor changes to possibly make, because she presented it as a colleague would not as if she were just instructing me to do what she wanted. The biggest challenge was what I mentioned in the above answer, just Bill Sykes and Nancy’s relationship was difficult for me to wrap my head around. “Why would you willingly put yourself in danger, Nancy?!” I kept asking myself, but they helped me to understand just the huge difference with the time and culture as well as reminding me of just the tremendous amount Nancy loves Bill.
What do we learn about your character when you are singing your solos?
Nancy’s big solo, “As Long as He Needs Me” gives the audience a huge insight into her mentality and sheer love towards Bill. There’s also a moment at the end of “It’s a Fine Life” where the audience first sees any type of vulnerability through Nancy’s tough exterior. You can see how much she yearns for an actual marriage and lovingness in these lines she sings: “Not for me the happy home… happy husband, happy wife” and she knows it never will be.
What have you learned about yourself as an actor during this process?
I have learned that I really needed to relearn being in a musical again! Because of the tremendous focus on vocals in opera, it was hard for me to get back to not thinking so much about my technique. I mean, I still think about it, don’t get me wrong! It’s just a different mindset.
How have Music Director Colin Taylor, Vocal Director Wyndy Fredrick, and Choreographer Sarah Hardy helped you during rehearsals?
They all have been an absolute joy to work with! Colin is a fantastic conductor who is so easy to follow. He also is extremely sensitive to the singer’s phrasing and stylistic choices which is something that I hold in the highest appreciation. Wyndy provided great insight into the music as well helping us to learn all the music initially and with a cast this big, that is a feat in and of itself! Sarah’s choreography is absolutely lovely and she was so patient and encouraging with all of us learning it. All around a fantastic team of artists to work with!
Why do you think OLIVER! is still so popular so many decades after it opened?
It is such a classic! The drama, the comedy, and the music (oh my goodness, the music!) all wrapped into one makes for one of my very favorite musicals and favorite role to play ever.
What has your Sterling Playmakers experience been like?
It has been a pleasure. The people are so wonderful and I immediately felt part of the group even though this is my very first show with the company. All in all a wonderful experience and summer!
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in OLIVER!?
My goal for every show I’ve been in is to leave them walking out of the theater humming the tunes they’ve just heard while (hopefully) talking about how much they enjoyed the show. The tale of Oliver Twist is one of the most beloved novels that deals with so many unique characters and Lionel Bart’s script and score does it total justice. Come see Oliver!!!
Oliver! plays at The Sterling Playmakers performing at The Theatre at Potomac Falls High School – 46400 Algonkian Parkway, in Potomac Falls, Virginia. For tickets,buy them at the door, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of Sterling Playmakers’ ‘OLIVER!’ Part 1: Mike Baker.