Local talent gives technicolor performanceKatie Gherty hasn’t had a lot of down time this summer but she likes it that way; so much so that she sings about it every chance she gets.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
Katie Gherty hasn’t had a lot of down time this summer but she likes it that way; so much so that she sings about it every chance she gets.
Gherty is currently at center stage in the role of narrator in The Phipps Center’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
A “local girl,” she is the daughter of Hudson attorneys Terry and Susan Schleif Gherty (also Hudson’s municipal judge). She graduated from Hill Murray High School in St. Paul in 2002 and Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 2006. She is employed by the finance and accounting recruiting firm of Gleason Dale in the Twin Cities and is living in Hudson. She also loves musical theater.
That’s one of the main reasons she chose to attend Hill-Murray High School, which has one of the best high school theatrical programs in the area. While there she performed in several musicals, her favorite being her lead role in “Taming of the Shrew.” She graduated college with a vocal performance major from Luther, performing in the school’s world-renowned choirs, but she didn’t do much theater work there. Since then, however, she has come home to The Phipps stage.
Gherty’s role in “Joseph” is a demanding one that has her onstage in every scene, not only telling the story but interacting with the characters. John Rynders of Eagan, Minn., plays Joseph, and he and Gherty are old friends from Luther, a relationship that carries over to the play. She sings with Joseph’s dysfunctional family, an Elvis-inspired Egyptian pharaoh and a chorus of kids including a preschooler.
“It is so fun — cheesy, but fun — and so bright and colorful. It is a great cast and I love doing it,” said Gherty.
She knew she wanted to audition for the show when she found out it was being directed by Beth Reidenbach, another local talent. Gherty had worked with Reidenbach before on both of the previous Phipps productions of “Grease.” In last year’s production she stood out as the edgy, hardluck Rizzo.
She said she had her eye on the role of the narrator in “Joseph” from the start, even though the demanding part would entail long rehearsals. She said Reidenbach started the rehearsal process early in the spring and she began to “ramp up her voice” on her own as well.
“I hadn’t done anything since ‘Grease’ the summer before but it is kind of like riding a bike. It’s muscle memory. It was a little tough at first because I was sick, but it all came back.”
Gherty said she was familiar with the music from the show but prepared by listening to the CD while driving back and forth to work. When rehearsals started they were four nights a week, three hours a night.
She starts to prepare for a performance about two hours ahead of the curtain, doing her hair and makeup. She has to be at the theater an hour before the performance, and just before going onstage she warms up with the rest of the cast. With so much of the story being told in song, Gherty said everyone in the cast works hard to be sure the lyrics are clear, and the audience seemed to get it from the first performance.
The audience plays a big part in Gherty’s performance. The opening night, sold-out house included lots of family and friends, and she enjoys seeing grade school friends and their parents when the cast gathers in the lobby following the show.
“You draw a lot of energy from the audience. Their feedback is a massive part of the production. And every audience is different, and you hear them react. As actors we feed on that, and it makes us better. You are kind of unconsciously listening for their response. It is a real give and take kind of thing.”
“Joseph” runs weekends through Aug. 2 and Gherty said the close of a show is always bittersweet. She likens it to going to summer camp — being with people you don’t usually see, becoming close and then it is over.
“This is such a great group of people. You work together in small quarters. You trust that everyone is there to make each other look good. Most of the time you don’t know each other before the show but you get pretty close. You put the rest of your life on hold to get it done and then it’s over and you go back to your regular life.”
Gherty said her current role as narrator is one of her favorites along with Kate in “Taming of the Shrew” at Hill Murray and Rizzo in “Grease.” She enjoys her time onstage but says she isn’t prepared to make the sacrifices in the rest of her life to pursue it as a career. Instead, she plans on continuing to sing and act when the right roles come along.
“What I really love is the mystery of the theater — that combination of raw talent, good directing and a live audience. That’s what I enjoy most, and I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.”
Performances run through Aug. 2 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. on the main stage. Tickets are $23 for adults and $16 for all students with a current ID, with a $2 discount for seniors on the Sunday matinees. For reservations, contact The Phipps ticket office at (715) 386-8409 or go to www.ThePhipps.org.