As the fanfare begins, I steady my nerves with a deep breath. Once I’m on the stage, seeing smiling faces across the grassy hill and hearing applause, my nervousness feels silly. But still, each performance begins just the same: a deep breath, then a big smile.
If this scene sounds familiar, maybe we’ve met! I’m Kirsten. You may know me as the tenacious little sister Gretel from “The Adventures of Hansel and Gretel.” And if you’ve always wanted to know what it’s like being an actor for the famous REP Theatre, you’re in the right place.
From the outside, an actor’s life seems like a dream — movie premieres, Broadway shows, being a superhero or fan-favorite comedian, fame. However, there’s a lot of hard work before you ever perform. Some jobs are terrible. But with a little luck, you get to work somewhere like The REP.
Rehearsal at The REP is an actor’s playground, a place to try out jokes, accents, weird ways to walk, and play. Other than learning lines and sweating underneath the stage lights, rehearsal mostly consists of trying not to break character when Brook Stetler, The REP’s executive director, improvises some hilarious lines. Whether we’re creating new bits for the Log Song or failing at German accents, each day is a new adventure. Some of the most fun I have is being nosy when costume pieces arrive. Nothing makes me feel more in character than the costume. It also leads to a lot of laughs, like when I got to see my boss in lederhosen.
The behind-the-scenes hijinks are fun. But nothing compares to performing, which feels like the last leg of a triathlon. During every performance, audiences join us as we cross the finish line. I felt like I’d finished a race after the first performance of “The Adventures of Hansel and Gretel.” I was exhausted, but seeing the smiling faces, getting hugs from kids, and hearing people’s favorite parts of the show made it all worth it. Getting to sneak some chicken, donated by The Chicken Shack, backstage didn’t hurt either.
If you’re looking for something fun for the whole family, “The Adventures of Hansel and Gretel” on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. at the Seaside Amphitheater is a must.
Another aspect I love about The REP is how often our work impacts the community. The Seaside merchants sponsor The REP’s family-friendly programming so we can bring theater and improv to families. Similarly, our outreach program connects us with local students through workshops and children’s theater performances thanks to the unwavering support of the community. I’m even lucky enough to teach creative and hilarious kids during Improv Bootcamp at The REP and cheer them on at the Friday Friends and Family showcases. To see what The REP Theatre has to offer this summer, be sure to check the full calendar of events at LoveTheREP.com.