Sunday, June 12, 2016

Getting to know South Pacific's Nellie

Getting to know South Pacific's Nellie
Sara Baltusevich-Goeckner

What is your favorite part about this role?

SG: My favorite part about playing Nellie Forbush is the dynamic range of emotions I get to display. She starts out spunky and nervous about her romance with Emile, which later evolves into full-blown giddiness and love. But at the end of Act 1 it becomes frantic fear and betrayal, which then leads to anger followed by fear of losing him to the war and a complete change of heart by the end of the show! Whew! It is a whirlwind of emotions in 2 hours time and it’s exciting and challenging as an actress to try to pull it off! Plus, I love all the music!

What has been the biggest challenge during rehearsals?

SG: I think one of the biggest challenges is staying in character and really focusing on the show through the rehearsal process. We have a lot of young, spirited cast members and they are always doing something fun backstage or at rehearsal and I am the old lady in the corner going through my lines and trying to stay “Nellie” the whole time and not break character.

What has helped you to get to know your fellow cast members and gel with them?

SG: I think a great deal of bonds and friendships have been made during this process and I love to see so many people in the cast getting along so well with their fellow cast members. I think Rich Beans, who plays Emile, and I, working so close together, have really developed a great bond and friendship to where we feel very comfortable with each other both onstage and off. Emile and Nellie have one of the greatest stage romances of all time and we really wanted that to come across to our audiences, so getting to know each other through rehearsals has really helped that along. Rich is just a great guy so I am incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful co-star!

What's your favorite song and why?

SG: I have actually been asked this question several times and it is really hard to answer because there are so many memorable songs in South Pacific. I would say that “Some Enchanted Evening” gives me chills every night because I just get to look lovingly at Rich while he sings it and it really is probably Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most beautiful love song. I also really like the “Bloody Mary”-“There is Nothing Like a Dame” section of the show because it really throws the energy and spunk of the sailors right at you after a long love scene between Nellie and Emile and the guys really nail those 2 songs. And then my favorite song that I get to sing would have to be “A Wonderful Guy” because it’s just so cute!

How did you get involved in Muni, and when?

SG: I auditioned for Muni for the first time in 1998 when I was about 11 or 12 and I made it and was an orphan in Annie. I could not have been more excited and I felt like I was on Broadway! Some of my favorite moments come from the Muni and some life-changing moments as well! Almost all of my close friends were made from performing at the Muni and I met my husband, Jeremy, doing “Into the Woods” in 2010. So, needless to say, The Muni is a very special place to me.

What is it about Muni that keeps you coming back?

SG: Like many people say, The Muni really is a family and I couldn’t agree more. I cherish the relationships I have made because of this organization and really my life would not be the same without it. The Muni brought me to my husband and I am thankful for that every single day! Also, there is no thrill like stepping out on that stage opening night and I think that is another reason why I keep coming back. I stress out about auditions every year but when you get that casting call and that role you’ve been dreaming of, everything seems right. This year has been so special to me and I am thrilled to be a part of South Pacific and cannot wait for audiences to see what we have put together!

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