Writer: DANNY MOGLE / Photographer: SARAH A. MILLER
Lea DiMarchi is back for her second season with the Texas Shakespeare Festival but in a much different way.
Last year as an intern, she was had minor roles and popped up in backgrounds in scenes. This year, she is featured in three of the productions. She plays the lovely Roxane in “Cyrano de Bergerac,” the troubled Queen Elizabeth in “Richard III” and Missy one of bubbly singers in the 1950s’ period musical “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”
The Texas Shakespeare Festival continues through July at Kilgore College’s Van Cliburn Auditorium. The festival also is staging Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing;” “Did You Hear Thunder?” an original play from festival Executive Director Raymond Caldwell; and “The Witch of Pickle Patch,” a new show for children.
The festival features professional actors selected from auditions.
DiMarchi said she used last year as a learning experience.
“I was able to use that as an opportunity to watch the more seasoned actors,” she said. “I was at the rehearsals and was able to learn a lot by just quietly watching from the side.”
She said she quickly realized that the festival offered “high-caliber theater of amazing quality.”
A native of Hawaii, she is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama and has degrees in acting and musical theatre. She also has studied in England at the British American Drama Academy.
She said she didn’t hesitate to apply to be part of the festival and have the opportunity to perform works by Shakespeare.
“It (the festival) has such a wonderful reputation,” she said.
She is using this summer to expand her talent by taking on vastly different characters.
“Playing the queen is difficult because she is older (than me) and you have to find that right range. Roxane is naïve but so relatable and she is in a situation that feels so real.”
In the “Marvelous Wonderettes,” DiMarchi gets to sing four-part harmony songs made famous by female vocal groups from the 1950s and 1960s.
She said on any given day she is performing one or more of the characters as part of the rotation of the plays.
“But that’s one of the challenges of being an actor,” she said. “You have to compartmentalize what’s going on.”
Photo: DiMarchi as Roxane with Jake Lesh (background) and Matthew Simpson in Texas Shakespeare Festival’s “Cyrano de Bergerac.”
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