Brisbane actor, Katie McKee, was recently in Brisbane to take to the stage for the musical production of The Sound of Music, and like many fans, she can belt out the words to most tunes in the show!
“I was definitely raised on the movie The Sound of Music along with Brigadoon (thanks to my Scottish Grandma) and Singin’ in the Rain. I adored movie musicals and loved singing along,” Katie says.
“I had the cassette tapes to many of them too! I loved Julie Andrews – so Maria was always my favourite character, but my favourite song to sing was Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” she says.
Katie is no stranger to the big musicals having performed in West Side Story and Oklahoma! But regardless, getting The Sound of Music call-up was what she called “surreal and wonderful.” She recalls the moment she heard she was heading back to Brisbane for the production .
“I had three months left with Wicked when I found out that I had been offered it. The thing that excited me the most about this new opportunity was singing the fabulous score and the added challenges of swinging the female ensemble and covering the roles of Sister Sophia and the Baroness,” Katie said.
Great roles to date
“I’ve been very lucky to have performed in some wonderful shows both professionally—Wicked and My Fair Lady; at university (WAAPA) Oklahoma, Sweeney Todd, and West Side Story; and lots of other interesting projects in between.”
But more daunting than musical theatre is the fact that Katie performed in her own one woman cabaret, Identity Crisis, which incidentally sold-out.
“Performing in Identity Crisis was incredibly rewarding; I wrote and produced the show,” Katie says. “There is nothing more exposing than performing personal stories on a stage by yourself, so I am really proud of my achievement.”
One-woman shows versus big stage productions
Katie agreed it’s a far cry from working with the huge cast and crew that she can now expect on The Sound of Music.
“As you can imagine there are many differences between the intimate cabaret scene and performing in a major musical,” she says. “You won’t find the extraordinary sets, detailed costumes, lighting design or orchestra in a small cabaret but being able to be the star of your own show is wonderful too!
“My favourite thing about being in a large production like The Sound of Music is listening to and making music with a fabulous orchestra each night. I love acting and finding interesting moments in a script with other actors, so my next show might need to be a two-hander!”
For Katie however, the change is not just in productions—from Wicked to The Sound of Music—but in Brisbane itself.
“It is so nice to be home! Brisbane has grown enormously since I lived here and there is so much to explore,” she says.
“I love a long and leisurely brunch – trying new cafes with my friends and family; cuddling my dog, Keiko; Stradbroke Island; the theme parks; Botanic Gardens; South Bank; and, the many markets around the area.”
That ultimate role…
We put Katie on the spot and asked her if there was a role that she really coveted.
“I had the opportunity to play Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd at university and that is a role I definitely want (no, need!) to play again,” she says.
“I would love to play Mama Rose in Gypsy, The Bakers Wife in Into the Woods, the Mother in Ragtime… and many more! I would also love to be involved in more theatre – I love the works of Patrick Marber, Tennessee Williams, and have always wanted to perform the role of Lady Macbeth in that Scottish Play. When I studied at Griffith university, I saw all of the QTC plays and would love the opportunity to work with them in the future.”
Advice for budding thespians
We couldn’t let Katie go without offering some sage advice to budding Brisbane thespians wanting to follow in her footsteps.
“My advice to young performers would be to immerse yourself in all things creative,” Katie says.
“I believe that training is very important. Talent is one thing, but training allows the talent to be nurtured and guided. Technique is very important for the longevity of performing eight shows a week.
“The performing industry can be brutal so keeping an optimistic outlook is vital. If this is what you want to do keep working hard on your skills, be patient, proactive and determined!”