BWW Interview: Christine Rea of HIT HER WITH THE SKATES at UCPAC 5/12 to 5/27

BWW Interview:  Christine Rea of HIT HER WITH THE SKATES at UCPAC 5/12 to 5/27

The new musical, Hit Her With The Skates is written by Christine Rea and Rick Briskin, directed by Michael Schiralli, with musical direction by Brandon Ethridge, and choreography by Gina Ventura. The show will have its pre-New York developmental production at Hamilton Stage (UCPAC, Rahway, NJ) from May 12th to May 27th.

Hit Her With The Skates is Grease meets Hairspray with a sprinkle of Xanadu. It's the year 1994, and rock star Jacqueline Miller has a lot to celebrate. She's headlining her first national tour and returning for a hometown concert at her beloved Windy City Skates. When complications hit her head on, Jacqueline comes face-to-face with her 12-year-old self and all the things she learned during the golden age of the roller rink in 1977. From the wisdom of the Ouija Board to the power of Smarties candy, Hit Her With The Skates explores the magic and hope of finding your one true love.

Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Christine Rea about her career and Hit Her With The Skates.

Christine Rea began her journey of playwriting, producing and performing on her parent's backyard patio. Upon earning a Bachelor of Arts in History at the University of Illinois: Champaign/Urbana, and attending DePaul Theater School, Christine toured the U.S., Canada and Europe performing. Favorite roles include: Mary Magdalene in the National Tour(s) of Jesus Christ Superstar w/ Ted Neeley & Carl Anederson of the acclaimed Norman Jewison film; Emma Goldman in the Off-Broadway Revival of Tintypes; Magenta in The Rocky Horror Show (European Tour); Sheila in HAIR (Actors Theater of Louisville); Janis Joplin in Beehive &Sonia in Godspell (Alabama Shakespeare Festival). Proud member of Actors Equity Association, The Dramatists Guild and most recently, Graduate of the Commercial Theater Institute's O'Neill & 14-Week Producers Program, 2015/2016 respectively.


When did you first become interested in theatre?

I don't remember ever not being interested in the theatre. My joking that my performing and producing career began on my parents' backyard patio, is the truth. In July 1976, I wrangled my best friend into performing a 4th of July concert with me for the bicentennial. I created the set list (of course Yankee Doodle Dandy and You're a Grand Old Flag were included), made a flute and drum for each of us, coordinated our festive outfits, and included pyrotechnics in the form of sparklers for a big finish. The educational portion included a proper flag folding demonstration. I was seven-years old.

How did your education help to launch your career?

I grew up in a southern Chicago suburb, Lansing Illinois. My high school, T.F. South, was well-known for its drama program (and still is). I competed with Contest Play and Readers Theatre/Group Interpretation on the Regional, Sectional and State level of which our productions were always top ranking. I credit both my grade school drama coach, Michele Hasz & high school coach, Dr. Henry Hertz for giving me the core fundamentals and then some. I was practicing Method acting before I'd ever heard of The Actors Studio. We studied and were SERIOUS about making great theatre!

What advice do you have for people who may wish to study in the arts?

Get involved. Whether you're building the set, performing in the show or selling tickets just be a part of it. I met George Clooney a number of years ago and his advice to me was, "Get your chicken shit ass to L.A.". What I understood him to mean was, "Identify what you want to DO and GO for it!".

Tell us about the inspiration for Hit Her With The Skates.

In the late 1970's, I'd go every weekend to the roller rink with my best friend. I loved everything about those Saturdays. The music, the food, the shag carpeting and the lighting was pure magic. But, I was also going through an awkward stage. I was a little kid, but I felt gorgeous and grown up when I hit the floor. I can remember thinking that when I whooshed across the floor the world could see the real me. Then as a young woman in the late 90's, I found myself questioning decisions I'd made and doubting exactly who I was. I'd lost my footing and began the tedious process of reclaiming my spirit and pluck. Which got me wondering what my little-kid self would think about the choices I'd made...

We'd love to know a little about the show's cast and creative team.

My writing partner, Rick Briskin, also happens to be my husband. He jokes that I dragged him kicking and screaming into this process. There's some truth to that! I think he was a little worried that we'd wind up in divorce court. But there's not a composer out there who understands pop music and it's relationship to musical theater better than Rick does. Which is why I was insistent that he collaborate with me on SKATES. We've been at this since 2011 and still married...so far, so good!

The universe has been equally kind in bringing me, our director Michael Schiralli. We literally bumped into each other at a Starbucks in Poughkeepsie having mutual friends in common. I cannot imagine doing this without him. For that matter, we're truly blessed to have so many wonderfully talented actors, designers, creatives and musicians lend their talents along the way. I could go on and on about every single person, but we'd be here all day...

What would you like NJ audiences to know about the show?

The Rahway audience will be an integral part of continuing to develop the show with our sights set on a Broadway run. And just like the roller rink, there's something for everyone. It's family friendly and a whole lot of fun!

Anything else, absolutely anything you want BWW readers to know.

We're creating the world of the rink with movement, lighting, costuming, scenery and lighting. The 10-member ensemble play a myriad of vivid characters and at times their worlds collide at Windy City Skates. But, the show is not about skating, rather it's about a young woman's reclaiming and realigning with her authentic self. And, have I mentioned that it's a whole lotta FUN?!

The cast of Hit Her With the Skates includes: John Treacy Egan, Madeline Fansler, Kyle Jurassic, Heather Patterson King, Kristin Piacentile, Andy Savage, Matthew Schatz, Kelsey Stalter, Amy Toporek , and Chris Walker.

The creative team includes Nathan Avakian (Lighting Design), Lindsay McWilliams(Costume Design), Josh Iacovelli (Set Design), Bruce Yauger (Sound Design), Dee Spencer (Wig Design), Bob Cline (Casting Director), Lisa Dozier King (General Manager).

The band includes Brandon Ethridge (Piano), Rick Briskin (Guitar), Mike Hall (Bass), Angelo DiBraccio (Sax/Keyboards), Ethan Bill (Drums).

Hit Her with The Skates will be performed at Hamilton Stage in Rahway from May 12th to May 27th. The performance Schedule is Thursday at 8pm; Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 2pm Hamilton Stage (UCPAC, Rahway, NJ) is located at 370 Hamilton St, Rahway, NJ 07065. The theater is a short walk from Rahway's NJ Transit Station and it also has generous parking available. Tickets are $15 to $25 and can be purchased by visiting www.hhwts.com.

Photo Credit: Russ Rowland

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