There are many facets to the life of an actor in the live theatre. One of those facets is taking on a role that you did not create in the official rehearsal process of a production. The theatre term for that is role sharing and it is the position that Lauren Schulke found herself in when accepting a spot in this year’s theatre apprenticeship class. She would be taking over the role of Marcy Park in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for outgoing ensemble member Abbie Cathcart. In this edition of Drama Unfolds, Lauren describes this tricky process for her and what it means for the entire production.
An Actor Challenge: Role Sharing
by Lauren Schulke
I am so honored and excited to have stepped into the role of Marcy Park—an overachiever with dreams of underachieving—in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch Abbie in the role of Marcy, and working alongside her to create my own version—or in theater terms, role sharing—has been a dream.
When I first got the call from Hal Cropp (Commonweal Executive Director) about my acceptance into the 2018-19 Commonweal Theatre apprentice class, I was offered the role of Marcy and a role in It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. I’ll admit, I was ecstatic for the latter, but was slightly hesitant about the former. My early years of becoming an actor consist of a lot of musicals, but I really haven’t been in one for the last 5 years or so. So when I Googled the role and watched the YouTube videos, I was a little nervous and worried I may be in over my head. However, much like Marcy, I faced the challenge head-on, and unlike Marcy, I decided to go all-in. I called up a recommended voice coach to work on the music and I got a copy of the script and started memorizing.
Moving to Lanesboro was a big change! But I’m grateful I had some time to see Spelling Bee and really feel settled in before I jumped into rehearsals. I worked with Abbie to learn my blocking and the dances and I worked with Stela Burdt, our music director on getting the music in my head and in my body. I watched the show like 5 million times and had a wonderful cast holding me up on my first night.
The adjustment into a role that had already been crafted by Abbie was a balance. It was hard to not feel as if I was just copying someone else’s work and I found myself questioning some of the choices I was making. But after many conversations with Abbie, rehearsal with our stage manager, Bailey, and finally a few performances under my belt, I’m really starting to feel my own Marcy Park blossom. She’s a misunderstood kid who uses a spelling bee as a platform to finally start to understand herself. The exploration of her character has been a wonderful journey and I’m excited to see where it continues to grow over the next 3 months.
Seeing Lauren make the role of Marcy Park her own is just one of the many great things to do in Lanesboro. CWL ensemble member Brandt Roberts has another idea to add to that list, Silent Movies in the Park sponsored by Lanesboro Community Theatre.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is currently playing through September 24th alongside The Clean House.
Get Tickets —> For Both of These Fantastic Shows!
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the theatre.—Jeremy