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Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 6 years ago

Theater SRQ & A: Alana Opie

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by: Kathryn Parks

It is no secret that Sarasota is a cultural town. To me, it’s not necessarily the visiting artists or internationally acclaimed festivals that most beautifully color our theatrical scene, it’s the talented individuals who choose to call this area home.

My goal with Theatre SRQ & A is to shine the spotlight on those individuals who live and work here; those who enrich our stages and, through their talents, heighten the level to which art can transport us as a community.

This month, I interviewed Alana Opie, a true leading lady, whose skill and dynamic presence has illuminated many stages along our Gulf Coast. This week, she is opening "BEEHIVE," at the Manatee Players, where you can catch her (and a number of other stellar performers) from Feb. 27 to March 16.

Here, she goes into detail about why she lives in Sarasota, what theater superstition makes her uneasy and what accent you should ask her to do next time you see her.

Tell me about your latest theatrical project?

This Thursday, Feb. 27th, I will open "BEEHIVE," at the Manatee Performing Arts Center. I’ll be singing everything from Connie Francis to backup vocals for Tina Turner, to Janis Joplin. Also, from April 17 to 27, I will be playing Ms. Pennywise in "Urinetown: The Musical," at the Players Theater of Sarasota.

What are some of the theatres you’ve worked at?

Stageworks Theater in Tampa, Golden Apple Dinner Theater, Germinal Stage in Denver, Players Theater of Sarasota, Venice Theater and the Manatee Performing Arts Center.

Describe yourself in five words:

Extroverted, creative, hardworking, family-oriented and devoted

Where were you born?

Beverly, Mass.

When did you know you wanted to be in the performing arts?

When I was 9 years old, I received a flyer in the mail for the Venice Little Theater’s summer children’s program, and at that moment, I knew I wanted to be an actress.

Why the Sarasota area?

I actually grew up in Venice, and after graduation, I lived in Germany and Colorado. As my twenties came to a close, I decided to move back here to regroup. I started auditioning, and it became home again. With such an arts-enriched community, why live anywhere else?

What has been one of the best experiences of your Sarasota arts career and why?

The first thing that sticks out in my mind is starring in the musical, "Sideshow" opposite Danae DeShazer. We played conjoined twins who went from sideshow freaks to Vaudeville stars. It was the most rewarding, fulfilling and challenging role I have had the pleasure of bringing to life. I still miss it!

Once cast, how do you prepare for a role?

I submerge myself in as much information about the role as I can. I listen to recordings, watch videos and read everything I can find online. I become kind of obsessed.

Alana starred as Betty in White Christmas at the Players Theatre in December 2013. Left to right- John Andruzzi, Alana Opie, Joseph Strickland and Tahlia Byers.

What do you do to warm up before a performance?

I am super guilty of not warming up. I know, I know! I just sort of internalize things and stay inside my head.

Do you have any show superstitions?

Someone once told me that if you stage the curtain call any earlier than dress rehearsal, it’s bad luck. I have always felt uneasy when directors do that …

What is your day job?

I am a matchmaker for Sarasota/Tampa Singles.

What hobbies do you have outside of theatre?

Um ... there are hobbies outside of theater? Does catching up on "Downton Abbey" count?

What is the oddest thing you have listed in the “special skills” section of your resume?

I think I have listed that I can do a Scottish accent, but I would probably just be channeling my inner Mike Myers and it would definitely be pretty bad.

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you during a performance?

This may be a completely inappropriate, but I laughed so hard on stage I peed my pants once. It was absolutely horrifying. Not saying which show!

If you could have lunch with anyone from theatrical history, dead or alive, who would it be?

Sounds cliché, but Shakespeare. I’d like to get to know him, so I can put all of those conspiracies about who he really was to rest!

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Artistically, my best friend, Helen Holliday. She has done a lot in her theater career, and I value her opinion above everyone else’s. I pretty much want to play every role she has ever played!

What is your biggest performance-related phobia, and why?

Losing control of bodily functions. Why? See above.

What show do you wish an area theater would put in its season for next year?

"Wicked."

Name one thing on your theatrical bucket list:

"The Last Five Years."

Do you have any theatrical goals for next year?

I would love to gear more toward auditioning for professional theaters, but really just to continue to do shows that challenge me and continue to help me learn and grow.

If you had unlimited funds, and you ran a theatre in Sarasota, what would be your vision?

To put on and star in all the shows I have ever wanted to do. And hire all of my insanely talented friends.

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