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PERFORMER SPOTLIGHT: Kate Retzki

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in theatre?

Kate: I never thought about theatre as a child. Music and theatre just weren’t a part of my life. But then I met my best friend in high school, who was - and still is - an incredible performer. Courtney gave me my love for theatre. We haven’t performed together for many years, but I dream of the day she and I are reunited on the stage!


Did you undergo any formal or informal training to shape your performance skills?

Kate: You could say that my training has been “on the job”. I was speaking with an incredible Brisbane performer recently and I was lamenting that I had not trained or studied in dancing, singing, or acting. She responded that there is no better training than performing… so I guess I’ve been lucky to do a lot of that! I just simply love of performing with my friends. We have the best hobby in the world! These days, I’m very happy to do the odd dance class, and I absolutely adore my vocal coach!


We do have the best hobby! Do you have a particularly memorable, special, or challenging role from your theatre experience?

Kate: It seems like every time I am cast in a new role I say, “this is my favourite one yet!” I suppose they are all my favourite, because every show has its own special moments, new connections, wonderful memories. There have been songs, or scenes or dances that have really challenged me or scared me. It sometimes makes me think, “why am I torturing myself to do this?” However, I think it is the challenge, the surmounting of fear or the surpassing of self-doubt that makes performing so wonderful. That’s why it feels so good!


I believe you are working on a very exciting project at the moment?

Kate: I am absolutely thrilled to play Princess Fiona in Savoyard’s Shrek, The Musical! We have just gotten underway with rehearsals, and this cast is HOT. This is my debut performance for Savoyards, and I can already see why this company has been around for many decades. It is a wonderful community of dedicated, talented people. Princess Fiona is such a fun undertaking. All the characters in this show come with their own iconic expectations, thanks the popularity of the movie. I am really looking forward to digging into the contradictions of Princess Fiona’s personality and finding the light and dark that comes with a princess/ogre combo! The show is a hoot, and I know it is going to be a lot of fun for the performers and audience alike. There is an immense amount of talent in this cast and creative team. I genuinely look forward to learning a lot during this process!

(SHREK THE MUSICAL opens at the Iona Performing Arts from June 22 for a limited season).


How do you prepare for a new role like Princess Fiona? Are there specific methods you follow?

Kate: To prepare for a role, I do a lot of “playing pretend” in my lounge room. It is important to me to completely lose myself into a character. I don’t want the audience to see “Kate” on stage. Rather, my physicality and voice should transform. To find the right fit, I play around with how I stand, move and sound until I find something that feels like my interpretation of the character. Then I add the lines, the songs and the dancing to that.


How do you approach collaboration with directors, fellow actors, and the production team?

Kate: I have been so lucky to work with some of Brisbane community theatre’s best creatives and performers. It astounds me the amount of talent within our city and it’s a beautiful thing that we volunteer our time to create art together. I really love working with Directors, Music Directors and Choreographers with a clear creative vision, but who also enjoy playing around the edges. My mission is to come to every rehearsal with the material prepared and an idea or two to bring to the table.


I can attest that you are a delight to perform with Kate! Could you share some highlights in your stage career that you are particularly proud of?

Kate: Beyond having fun with friends, the other achievement I want to gain through my work is simply that the audience enjoys the show! Shows I am most proud of are those that audiences - big or small - were somehow emotionally moved by; whether that is absolute elation (like after The Producers) or somber reflection (like after Sweeney Todd). Sometimes it is the beautiful music that moves them (like in Oklahoma), or a touch of nostalgia (like in The Addams Family).


What advice do you have for individuals aspiring to gain a role in a stage show?

Kate: I am not sure I’m the right person to give advice. I am far from an expert. However, what I can say is that the only way to get more comfortable with auditioning or performing is to do it. Find opportunities to put yourself out there. In addition, be a nice, kind person and I know the Brisbane theatre community will welcome you!

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