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reading seneca...

McHugh: Let's dive right in. Share a bit about your extensive performance background. It's really impressive!


Lewis: As an actor/singing actor, I’ve worked with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Remy Bumppo, Lifeline Theater, Metropolis, Idle Muse, Spartan Theater, Fury Theater, Provision Theater, 16th Street Theater, Oil Lamp Theater, Theater at the Center, Porchlight Theater, Northbrook Theater, Pride Films and Plays, Jedlicka Theater, Music Theater Works.  In opera, I’ve sung with Chicago Opera Theater, Chamber Opera Chicago, Lyric Opera Cleveland, Battle Creek Symphony, Arkansas Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Ann Arbor Symphony, Sheboygan Symphony, University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra.


With Chamber Opera Chicago I portrayed Mary Musgrove in a musical adaptation of Persuasion. From 2013 through 2019 we toured the UK each summer with Persuasion, performing at the Edinburgh, Buxton and Camden Fringe Festivals and in theaters in Aberdeen, Stirling, York, Stratford-upon-Avon, Cardiff, Bristol, Brighton, Winchester, Shanklin, Peignton, Lyme Regis, Bury St. Edmunds, Margate, Windsor and London in the UK, and Victoria and Port Alberni in British Columbia, Canada.


Favorite opera roles include Nedda in I Pagliacci by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss, Jr., and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte by Mozart.  Favorite theater roles include Titania in Midsummer Night’s Dream and Mary Musgrove in a musical adaptation of Persuasion by Jane Austen.


McHugh: Yep. Very impressive! Training?

Lewis: Although I have a Master’s of Music in Voice Performance, I mostly learned the craft from the school of Hard Knocks


McHugh: Do you work primarily as a performer or do you have a ‘day job’? 

Lewis: My day job is an acting job: I’m an audiobook narrator and I’m happy to report that I just finished recording my 44th book.  I cannot talk about it as I signed a confidentiality clause but it’s coming out in May. So, I am always performing. It drives my family nuts but by now, they are used to it.  I am also a voice teacher, having maintained a private studio in addition to teaching at the collegiate level at the University of Notre Dame and UW-Parkside. 


McHugh: And, what are your 'additional skills' on the bottom of your resume?

Lewis: I call that section “Other Skills/Interests/Interesting Tidbits:”


Can tie a bow-tie on someone else; former Cubmaster of Pack 3822; proud Filipino/Irish American; can recognize garlic mustard and pull it out of the ground; mother to a son with Type 1 Diabetes; am sister to a man with Down syndrome (who lives with me!); volunteers as a music minister at church and cantors regularly at Mass; an Army brat – father was a West Point graduate and served in the US Army Corps of Engineers for 24 years; completed NaNoWriMo in 2022 and currently trying to make a novel out of the mess I wrote.


McHugh: This is also your first time auditioning for PPTC. What motivated you to submit? Why did you want to be involved in this production? 

Lewis: Yes! This is my first time to auditioning for PPTC. When we moved from the Rogers Park (the northernmost neighborhood in Chicago on the lakefront immediately south of Evanston) to North Barrington, I assumed my stage performing days were over since my new responsibilities with my extended family don’t give me much time to commute to and from rehearsals in the city.  A friend of mine, Lara Kercinik, told me about PPTC shortly after we moved here and then more recently, I saw an article about Parker Players’ new artistic home. When I saw the audition posting, all that info clicked in my head and I thought I’d give it a shot.


McHugh: I know Lara Kercinik! I hope she gets to see you perform in this production. Moving on...the characters in the script are written as men. Yet, PPTC cast women in the roles. Has that been a challenge to you as the actor? Or not? 

Lewis: On the surface, some things just don’t transfer easily from a script for men to a script for women. But Dom and my castmates Sheri Warren and Jocelyn Adamski and I have worked to smooth over some of the changes.  But the heart of the story, the meat of Yasmina Reza’s argument, isn’t dependent on gender.  “Art” is fundamentally about being human and navigating the dynamics of friendships.


McHugh: How is your character like you? Different? 

Lewis: Sabine has a very high-level knowledge of and appreciation for visual art.  We’re alike in that I, too, can easily “geek out” and talk on a very high level about classical singing, opera and vocal repertoire.  Sabine says she doesn’t blame Margot for not being interested in art the way Sabine is and believe me, most people in my life are not fans of classical singing and I certainly don’t blame them for not being into opera or classical vocal music.  But where Sabine and I differ: I’m pretty sure I would not invest in the painting Sabine does.

McHugh: What sort of person is going to love this show? 

Lewis: Anyone who loves clever repartee involving the philosophy of art mixed with the stuff of what makes up friendships will enjoy this production of “Art.” Anyone who loves the intimacy and immediacy of live theater in a smaller venue will love this production of “Art.”  Anyone who likes to sip an “adult beverage” while doing all the preceding, will love this production of “Art.”  And anyone who likes getting in on the inception of building a new artistic home for PPTC and knowing they helped establish a wonderful theater company and helped grow the local performing arts community will just love it!  It’s a very exciting time for Parker Players!

McHugh: Call someone out by name: who must come see this production?

Lewis: Rory Cooney and the St. Anne Choir and Band: you guys had better come! They know me for my singing but here, I’m ACTING (for reference, please see SNL’s Jon Lovitz’s inimitable Master Thespian sketches). 

McHugh: What will the audience be thinking about in the car as they drive home after this show?

Lewis: That was so fun! Isn’t it great we have live, professional theater right here in Barrington? Let’s make sure to help PPTC get their “Stage the Build” project done!

McHugh: Without giving anything away, what’s your favorite line of dialogue?

Lewis: “Read Seneca.”  As a Great Books major, I find this line resonates with me on so many different levels.  I won’t go into details but keep an ear out for it.

McHugh: What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?

Lewis: I say a prayer of thanksgiving as I take a deep breath.

McHugh: Anything else you want to add?

Lewis: I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the PPTC team – everyone is so welcoming and easy-going.  And I have enjoyed every minute in the rehearsal room with director Dominic Green and my fellow cast members Jocelyn Adamski and Sheri Warren – they are such great creative forces that inspire me to be the best I can be.

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