Broadway’s Kuhn offers advice to CL Central theater students
By JAMI KUNZER – email@example.com
Who better to help a group of high school students put on “Legally Blonde: The Musical” than someone who’s performed in a Broadway version of the show.
Beth Kuhn, a 2005 Deerfield High School graduate and New York actress (www.bethkuhn.com), worked with students at Crystal Lake Central High School for a couple days this week.
The school is putting on the show March 14-17.
A University of Michigan graduate with a bachelor’s degree in musical theater, Kuhn performed in a national tour of “Legally Blonde,” playing the Mom/Whitney and as an understudy to Paulette and Vivienne. She now lives in New York.
“I just wanted to tell them a little about what the life of an actor in New York is like and give them audition tips,” Kuhn said. “Like a job interview, you have to bring in who you are and portray a confident and hopefully happy version of yourself.”
The company AB Controls in Rolling Meadows sponsored Kuhn’s trip. President and partner Grant Bevill, whose daughter, 18-year-old Kristina, attends Central and plays Vivienne in the musical, worked with family friend and theater producer Cathy Nathan to bring Kuhn to Crystal Lake.
Nathan, of Deerfield, saw Kuhn perform in high school, where among other roles, she played the lead in “Hello, Dolly!” her senior year. “She was extraordinary,” Nathan remembered.
Kuhn spoked to the students, and a few worked one-on-one with her as part of choral lessons.
“Their eyes were like out of their heads,” Nathan said. “To have someone to talk to, especially from your back yard ... (in theater) you’re learning skills you can take with you for the rest of your life.”
Kuhn spoke more with Pl@y about her theater experiences.
When did you know you wanted to be an actress?
I think I was in fifth grade or something. I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ There was never an option in my brain that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. ... My parents always pushed me to purse my dreams. I owe everything to them because I wouldn’t be where I was today if it wasn’t for them.”
Tell me about your very first audition.
It was for “The Sound of Music” in high school. At that point, I knew it was hard to get in the musical as a freshman. I remember I was sick. I tried to sing ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen.’ I couldn’t do it. (One of Kuhn’s choral teachers at the time encouraged the director to give her a part anyway. She ended up playing a nun.)
See KUHN, page 11
Do you get nervous on stage?
I get nervous all the time. One call-back in New York, I lost seven pounds that week because I couldn’t eat anything. I was so nervous. And I’m the type of person that likes to eat a lot.
It means you’re passionate about something if it makes you feel that way.
Q. What has been your best role to date?
A. It’s funny I think in terms of the length of the role. Doing ‘Legally Blonde’ was such a big chunk of my life. Even though I didn’t have a big part in it, I think of it.
In high school, I was Dolly in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ my senior year. I rip out that video and I’ll listen to myself and I have the worst Chicago accent. . .
I think it takes high school students a little while to understand. ‘Legally Blonde’ is so fun, but it’s harder to do the old musicals and get kids revved up about them.
Q. What is one piece of advice you would offer those aspiring for a career in theater?
A. Going to college is important. I think some people move straight to New York and I don’t think that’s always a good idea.
The most important thing is knowing it’s not just an easy lifestyle. Yes, the magic’s still there, but there’s a lot of other things that go into it. You have to really love it to pursue it.
You can work for a year to go to one job that last for six weeks and it’s over.