Lyric Arts had a chance to talk with Kristen Mathisen, who is playing Bunny Sutherland, in the upcoming production of The Hallelujah Girls. Read on to hear what she has to say about her experience thus far! LA: Tell us a little bit about why this particular show interested you?
KM:I had seen Dixie Swim Club at Old Log last year. It's written by the same people. I also wanted to work with Mishia Edwards again.
LA:For those that are unfamiliar with The Hallelujah Girls can you tell us about the show?
KM:Basically, the play is about the enduring value of friendship. (But it's really about the fabulous Bunny Sutherland and her selfless commitment to philanthropy.)
LA:Tell us about the character that you play. How will audience members identify with this character?
KM: Bunny Sutherland is a character that we all went to high school with. She is controlling and manipulative, placing her own agenda before that of anyone else, all the while characterizing herself as selfless and charitable. And she is probably a very snappy dresser.
LA: What is the most challenging part of being in a production like The Hallelujah Girls?
KM:Doing a show that takes place in a geographical area other than your own can be a challenge, especially if it requires a dialect. It is important to not treat the characters like caricatures.
LA: What is your favorite play or musical? Why?
KM: It’s difficult to name one favorite play, but my favorite play that I have acted in is easily Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers because I adored playing the role of Bella.
LA: What is your dream role to play on stage?
KM: My dream role is one that allows me to play a range of emotions. If I can play a crying part that also involves a lot of comedy, I am happy. This was an advantage of the role of Bella in Lost in Yonkers.
LA:What is the first production you were ever involved with? What did you do in the production?
KM: My introduction to theater was as the assistant director of a high school production of The Chalk Garden. My big “break” was doing the sound effects during the performances. But my first acting role was the heroine Nellie in an old fashioned melodrama called Only an Orphan Girl.
LA:Tell us a little about yourself?
KM: I grew up on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin where I discovered theater at Northland College while I was a sophomore in high school. After working on many shows there, I knew I’d found my life’s passion. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I took full advantage of the Acting Training Program, graduating with a degree in theater. This led me to the Twin Cities where I have worked at many local theaters – community, professional and semi-professional - over the years.
I am an actor, and count myself fortunate to live in the Twin Cities where there is so much opportunity. Finding Lyric Arts was such a bonus. It is so representative of the theatre organizations available in the Metro area. I am also passionate about my family, photography and writing – in particular, taking photos of family and then writing about the pictures.