BWW Interview: Sara Kmiec Talks About THE IT GIRL, A Charming and Witty Musical, at Meadow Brook Theatre!
Meadow Brook Theatre is bringing a classic silent movie to musical life with The IT Girl to end their regular season! Currently running until June 23rd, The IT Girl tells the story of Betty (Sara Kmiec), a sassy department store clerk, that has something special. It's enough to win an advertising contest looking for the girl with "IT," but will it be enough to charm the heir to the retail empire that employs her? The show is a retelling of the 1927 Paramount Picture, "IT," which starred Clara Bow and MBT has paid homage to the era by setting the show in black and white. BroadwayWorld Detroit had a moment to chat with The IT Girl's leading lady, Sara Kmiec about her role of Betty Lou Spence, the charming show, and why the show has "IT." Check out our conversation below:
BroadwayWorld Detroit: Hi Sara! Can you give a brief background of yourself and then your theatre career as an introduction to our readers?
Sara Kmiec: A bit about me is I grew up in Birmingham, Michigan and have been performing since I was three. Last year, I was in a drama at Meadow Brook Theatre called The Snow Geese and understudied the whole season as the acting intern. Coming back to work here has been such a joy surrounded by the MBT family again! One of my favorite places to perform outside of Meadow Brook was at Walt Disney World where I brought some of the beloved characters to life and met with guests in the parks. I currently am going into my senior year at Wayne State University where I recently went on as Donna in Mamma Mia for their spring musical at the Bonstelle Theatre. I will be graduating next spring with a degree in Theatre Performance. Outside of the acting scene, I love to paint, go camping up north, and practice yoga.
Let's get started... Describe The IT Girl in five words.
The IT Girl is charming, funny, romantic, uplifting and all the characters are extremely genuine.
How would you describe The IT Girl in your own words?
The IT Girl is a valentine written to old silent films and captures the charming pantomimic style of humor as well as the heartfelt nature of stories from 1920s films. In order to bring this world to life again, MBT and its superb creative team including Travis Walter as artistic director, Jen Price Fick as set designer, Matt Fick as lighting designer and Corey Collins as costume designer have decided to make the show entirely black and white. It is a bold and beautiful choice that sets the stage perfectly for the lively music and witty, fast paced story.
This is a re-telling of a 1927 film, The IT Girl, what makes it relevant for audiences today?
As the musical is a retelling of the 1927 film, It, it's relevance today is due to the fundamental idea of the plot - looking for the girl who has got "IT." "IT" as defined by Elinor Glyn, "can be a quality of the mind as well as a physical attraction." In our world today that centers importance on the visual aspect of us beings, we must not forget that it is also the mind that can be what attracts others like a magnet. Clara Bow, the original IT Girl in the silent film definitely had "IT."
What would you say to someone with no prior knowledge of the film or show to get them to see the production?
The show is extremely well rounded. A group of extremely talented actors and actresses have come together under Jeremy Benton as choreographer and Heidi
Joosten as music director to tell a beautiful story very well. While the story is lighthearted and quirky, as so many silent films are, it still manages to capture the drama of real life in an extremely relatable way for the audience and myself included.
Did you do any special preparation for your role?
Preparing for this role included a lot of nights spent cozied up with popcorn and a YouTube cue of silent films and clips of Clara Bow in order to capture her effervescent, yet effortless qualities. I wanted to embody her carefree nature and understand what sets her apart from other people as the one who has "IT."
How would you describe your character, Betty Lou Spence?
Betty Lou Spence, or the IT Girl, is completely unworried about the opinions of those around her. She is bold, daring and honest in a very brave way. Her carefree, I-can-do-anything attitude is contagious. We watch it affect the rest of the characters in the show as she inspires them to stand up for themselves against the pressures of 1920s societal pressures - something that I think everyone still faces today.
Quickly, describe Betty Lou Spence in five words.
Betty is vivacious, fearless, charming, strong and intelligent.
Who have you discovered Betty to be as you've grown to know her through playing her character?
Playing Betty is a wonderful reminder to myself that it is never helpful to care what others may think of you. Being humble, knowing who you are, and loving yourself for exactly that, gives you the power to focus on your goals free of doubt or anything else that can get in your way. My character is wide-eyed and ready for any adventure, wears her heart on her sleeve, faces the challenges with confidence and charm and always knows what to say.
Do you have a favorite song in the show?
In my favorite song from the show, "Why Not," the lead character that I play, Betty, is explaining to her friends at work in the lingerie department of Walthams' Department Store that not everyone has to follow the same rhythm as everyone else. She encourages them to make up their own steps instead. All set to a free feeling Charleston rhythm and choreographed by Jeremy Benton, this essential lesson of marching to the beat of your own drum is told in an empowering and fun way.
Why should people come see Meadow Brook Theatre's production of The IT Girl?
The production of The IT Girl is a Michigan premiere and, not only that, Meadow Brook has lined up a wonderful cast and creative team to tell the story. The quality of productions at Meadow Brook Theatre are entrancing and gives the audience a chance to truly become a part of the productions with their seamless professionalism and true heart. The caliber of work that is shown on its stage with this production is something that you won't want to miss out on.
The IT Girl is currently running until June 23rd at Meadow Brook Theatre on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester. For tickets and more information, call 248-377-3300 or visit www.mbtheatre.com.