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THE FRIDAY FIVE (on Thursday): MARVELOUS WONDERETTES' Birdsong and Wantiez

Springhouse Theatre Company brings back the sounds of the girl groups of the 1950s and '60s - in all their technicolor glory and crinoline dresses - with The Marvelous Wonderettes, starring a stellar group of Nashville divas, each at the height of her game: Catherine Birdsong Broyles, Stephanie Jones Benton, Darci Wantiez and Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva.

Today in a Friday Five (on Thursday!) feature, we shine our spotlight on Catherine Birdsong Broyles and Darci Wantiez, who offer some insight into their theater lives and give us some terrific answers to our five (well, six really) questions. Once you've gotten to know them better, you'll probably want to make sure you have tickets to see the incredible quartet over the next two weekends.

Catherine Birdsong Broyles

What was your first taste of theater "live and onstage"? My first taste of "live" theatre, I was three years old and was asked to participate in my church Mother's Day pageant. Like all good children's productions it was an ode to Disney, and I sang "part of your world" wearing felt seashells, holding my flounder stuffed animal all while sitting in a kiddie swimming pool.

What's your favorite pre-show ritual? My favorite pre-show ritual would have to be my Belmont vocal warm- ups. I can't skip out on my scales.

What's your most memorable "the show must go on..." moment? I learned the show must go on super early in life! While doing The Music Man as a 10 year old, I went on stage wearing a soaking wet dress for the opening number. The costumer decided the morning of the show that my sailor dress couldn't be white it needed to be yellow, but in the midst of opening night madness it was forgotten in the dye bucket backstage. In the same show my male dance partner decided to shapoopie with a cuter, older girl right as the song started.... So I danced it solo until Harold Hill saved me! It's true, the show went on and I certainly continued performing!

What's your dream role? Ariel in The Little Mermaid.

Who's your theatrical crush? Julie Andrews! I'd give anything to meet her!

BONUS QUESTION: Tell me something about yourself that would surprise most people! I was born and raised in Nashville but I had never even tasted a hamburger until college!

Darci Wantiez

What was your first "live onstage" taste of theater? I auditioned to be one of the kids in our local High School production of The Sound of Music when I was in second grade...along with about 100 other kids. I knew nothing about auditioning, so they asked me to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle." I gave them my most heartfelt rendition. I guess I did something right - and happened to be the right height. I played Marta "and I want a pink parasol." I loved everything about the experience: Rehearsals, costumes, making friends (including cool high schoolers), and then performing for large audiences. The director who cast me in that show remained the high school theater director through my junior year of high school, and an influence in my life. He and his wife remain friends to this day.

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Aside from the pre-show ritual of amusing other drivers while doing my vocal warm-ups as I'm driving to the theater...I love the time in the dressing room with other cast members. Putting makeup on, making the transition and sharing in the experience. Generally, laughing a lot. About nothing and everything.

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? The longer you do live theater, the more "the show must go on" crazy moments you collect...but...most memorable one was when I was...eighth grade, community theater...running onstage as a cheerleader in a modern version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Someone had a prop table pushed out where it didn't belong in our narrow wings, and had left a putty knife on it from some sort of set repair. I bumped into the table in the dark on my way onto stage, the putty knife fell...landed just right - well, wrong - on my ankle. I was in performance mode, so went on and we did our "Go, go, go, Joseph - you know what they say" cheerleader kicks all the same. With blood running down my white Keds. The prop table got moved to its place quickly. My foot survived. The show went on! Thankfully Keds bleach.

What's your dream role? That is a trick question, Jef. All the roles. And obviously, whatever I'm auditioning for today. (wink)

Who's your theatrical crush? Aside from Megan Murphy Chambers and Bonnie Keen, you mean? Ok. Too many in Nashville to name. Really. So, Kelli O'Hara. Patti LuPone. Helen Mirren. I admire their talent and tenacity over time. I think theatrically I crush on women more because they are the ones I aspire to be like. But, I also know that almost every time I see great theater in Nashville, David Compton is in it and I don't recognize him until I look in the program. I crush on that. He is a magical stage chameleon. Seriously, Nashville's got talent, y'all.

BONUS QUESTION: Tell me something about yourself that would surprise people. I've never been to NYC. Long overdue.

Springhouse Theatre Company, 14119 Old Nashville Highway, Smyrna: The Marvelous Wonderettes, running through November 15. Take a journey with The Marvelous Wonderettes and enjoy an evening of the music of the 50s and 60s. This stellar cast will knock your socks off. Directed by Catherine Birdsong, who co-stars along with Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva, Darci Wantiez and Stephanie Jones-Benton. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. November 6, 7, 13 and 14, with 3:30 p.m. matinees on both November 8 and 15.



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From This Author Jeffrey Ellis