You’ll Never Walk Alone

Wow. What a mad whirlwind this summer has been. And I am finally home.

It’s hard to fully grasp all that has happened in the last two months; I think I am still shell-shocked from the insane pace of rehearsals and work sessions, all of which culminated in a final strike that ended at 5:00 a.m. (after our last performance of Carousel). I may need weeks to fully recuperate, physically and mentally! The recuperation started with my staying at a hotel last night with my family, and lunch and ice cream in the wonderful town of Vermillion. And it continues this week, full of prescription meds and relaxation, haha.

On the river in Vermillion

The final show of the Huron season, Carousel, was very well received by audience and critics alike, playing to reserved-out houses and keeping them entertained for the span of three hours. That’s a feat in itself, for Carousel is truly an epic piece of Golden Age musical theater. But people genuinely loved the show, embracing its message and beauty. Patrons seemed truly grateful to have shared the show with us, and I felt truly blessed to have met so many kind and supportive individuals. The Playhouse holds a special place in the Huron community, and I felt love from all sides as we took our last bows on the McCormick stage.

The ballet

The Carousel rehearsal process seemed like a race to the finish for the entire company, and “blow high, blow low,” we utilized every bit of our final days to put up a whale of a production! We choreographed the dances in only a few days, using Agnes deMille’s original choreography (which is a THRILL to perform!) and other staging by our choreographer, Emily Casale. As Louise, I only had two blocked scenes to worry about, but I did perform the rest of the show in the ensemble. What antics there were!

Ladies of the ensemble

Working under Jann Graham Glann’s direction was like tasting the cotton candy of the Carousel— it was so sweet and satisfying, so light and airy. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to work with such a lovely lady, whose directorial style is as warm and gracious as her everyday personality. The Playhouse is so lucky to have her at the helm!

Playing the role of Louise was an emotional journey, ultimately a joy. I thrived in the ballet, dancing every heartfelt step with my years of training and feeling perfectly at home in the choreography. It just felt…right. I embraced the isolation of the little girl as she yearned for something more and sank with her into her darkest moments of sadness. I felt her hope and love blossom as she became aware of her father’s loving spirit, and I sang the finale with my utmost passion for life. It was such a fulfilling role; I am so grateful to Jann for casting me in this part.

Dancing on the beach

On closing night, as I greeted my family and friends after the performance, a lady approached me. She asked my name, and she said, “Kayla, I played your part– Louise– 50 years ago–here, at the Playhouse. I came with my family to see you tonight, and I just wanted to see you in this role.” She gestured toward her son and grandchildren, and she had me autograph her program and take a picture with her. How amazing. I still feel chills as I think about that shared moment: two Louises. Just…wow.

What an amazing conclusion to the 64th season of the Huron Playhouse. Although many of us have gone our separate ways in life and theater, we will always share this special connection. I hope our paths cross again very soon.

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