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Spotlight: The many stages of Amanda Heisey


"In real life you're stuck in one personality; on stage you can be anybody, from an ancient wizard to a showgirl," says Amanda Heisey.
"In real life you're stuck in one personality; on stage you can be anybody, from an ancient wizard to a showgirl," says Amanda Heisey.
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As Shakespeare once said, “All the world is a stage.” The multitalented Amanda Heisey would agree. You may have seen her on some of our local stages in productions of “Steel Magnolias,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “Harvey” and “Talking With … ” Her performing-arts talents include acting, singing, dancing and a wicked gift for accents. But Heisey’s creativity doesn’t stop there. The Kansas City, Mo., native put her University of Missouri journalism degree to work at our family of publications as the former Web editor for the Business Observer. Today, she’s the communications manager for the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County. Her cross-disciplinary talents definitely come in handy there. Her love for art and creativity in every form does, too. Our readers can get a taste of Heisey’s creativity in the upcoming production of “Lend Me a Tenor,” which opened Sept. 10, at The Players Theatre. Here’s another taste below.

What she loves about live theater ...
“From my own perspective, I love that I get to not be myself on stage. In real life you’re stuck in one personality; on stage you can be anybody, from an ancient wizard to a showgirl. As a kid, I always dreamed of being British. ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ made my dream came true. In ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,’ I got to be a badass con artist. Who doesn’t secretly want to be a con artist? The best thing was, I didn’t really cheat anybody and have that on my conscience. In ‘Harvey,’ I played a nurse from a 1940s insane asylum. In ‘Talking With …’ I played a crazy actress who belongs in an asylum. I’ve been so many different people in the last year, and that’s fun.

“From an audience point of view, it’s just a great way to forget your troubles. You know how you feel at the movies where you lose yourself in somebody else’s life for a few hours? You get the same thing from live theater, but more so. There’s an energy going on between actors and audience you only feel in a live performance.

Whether you’re on stage or in the audience, live theater gets you out yourself and puts you into somebody else’s shoes. Either way, the experience can be transformative.”

What can we expect at ‘Lend Me a Tenor?’
“It’s a hilarious contemporary farce along the lines of ‘Noises Off.’ There are slamming doors, mix-ups, mistaken identities and lots of physical comedy, which I love. For me, it’s kind of like a musical without the music. It’s a revival of the hit production five years ago. I’m one of two actors who weren’t in the original show. I’m starting from scratch, and I’m having a blast.”

Her origins as an actor ...
“It all started in third grade after I saw my best friend perform as a lady bug. I thought that was so amazingly cool. I begged my parents to let me go to the same musical theater summer camp that she went to — and they actually said yes. After that, I constantly auditioned and performed in every school show I could, all the way through high school, and also did summer programs. I was in choir, chamber singers, high school rep theater and drama club. I was even the drama club president during my senior year. I was hooked on theater.”
 
Most memorable accents ...
“Just this year alone, I got to do a Southern accent for ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a British accent for ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood.’ The nature of that production was we had to stay in character and talk to people in the lobby, so I’d still be speaking in a British accent. People would say, ‘Are you really British? Where are you from? Have you been to such and such a pub?’ I couldn’t spoil the illusion, naturally, so I’d laugh it off and change the subject. The Deep South drawl in ‘Steel Magnolias’ was also fun. I lived in Alabama for a little bit, and I love doing that accent. I can testify that after one or two beers, I start talking more and more Southern for some reason, although that’s not part of my actor’s preparation.”

Advice to the Sarasota arts community ...
“We have an amazing cultural audience here: so supportive, so dedicated, so aware. My only tiny bit of advice is to get outside your comfort zone. If you love going to plays, try going to a gallery. If visual art is your thing, see a play occasionally. Stretch your boundaries. You’ll be glad you did.”

IF YOU GO 
‘Lend Me a Tenor’
When: Runs through Sept. 21
Where: Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota
Cost: $25 to $30
Info: Call 365-2494 or visit theplayers.org.

 

 

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