Catching Up with Caitlin McKechney

Caitlin worked with us in 2007 on our production of Kiss Me Kate. Caitlin has since moved to New York and has worked all across the country singing opera and performing musical theatre. We’re thrilled she took some time out of her schedule to chat with us. Her interview, and a little wisdom, below:

Caitlin, tell us a little bit about your history with NightBlue and what your life’s been like since we last saw you?

I saw an audition notice for NightBlue’s Kiss Me Kate production back in 2007 and auditioned. I had been singing primarily classical music since graduating from college and was interested in getting back into musical theater, and NightBlue gave me that chance…

Additionally, I have been able to teach voice lessons through NightBlue and they have also invited my band, The Opera Cowgirls, to perform at their outdoor music series as well as their summer camp when we were just starting out. Fantastic opportunities!

I moved in NYC in 2011, so I haven’t been able to perform with NightBlue since, but I’ve been doing lots of opera roles across the country (from Miami to Seattle) including well-known pieces like Carmen. I’m also performing with the Opera Cowgirls and continuing to improve my guitar skills, since it is a very usable skill in musical theater right now. I was cast in a production of The Irish and How They Got That Way in Pennsylvania because they needed an alto who could play guitar… and the fact that my name is super Irish probably didn’t hurt!

In addition to all of that, I’m currently writing a book called the Young Artist Program Manifest-O! for young opera singers graduating and trying to enter the biz. One of the things I recommend to them in the book is to do musical theater!

Very cool that you’re working on Kiss Me Kate this summer! Can you tell us some more about that experience with NightBlue?

Kiss Me Kate with NightBlue was my first attempt at musical theater since focusing primarily on opera in college. I felt rusty on my acting and the style, but Dave and the rest of the cast was patient and fantastic to work with. I’m still in touch with many cast mates from that show! I know that having done this role before helped me to book it this coming summer at North Street Playhouse in VA this summer!

What attracted you to begin a career as an actor?

I always loved singing, but was fairly shy. Acting and coming out of my shell has always been a challenge. And yet, the challenge has been part of the attraction. I think many quiet people actually have very interesting perspectives on life and characters, so I always encourage fellow introverts to keep going after a performance career, even if stage fright and nerves are a challenge. I, despite all the challenges, love nothing more than being on stage and connecting with an audience. And it’s something that you never stop working at… you’re never “perfect”. Your craft is constantly evolving, so you are always challenged. I love that so much.

Of all the roles you have played in the past, which is your favorite?

Strangely enough, I LOVED playing Inez in the operatic rendition of Sartre’s No Exit, composed by Andy Vores, which I had the sadistic pleasure of performing with Chicago Opera Vanguard AND Florida Grand Opera. It mixed my love of contemporary classical music with the dramatic nuance of a stage play. And it’s also really cathartic to play someone who is a bit “evil”. I don’t know what’s this says about me… ha!

Tell us about a time where you had difficulty with a character. What was the role and why was it challenging?

I have difficulty with ingenues. Tessa in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers was particularly frustrating. If it’s a comedy, it’s a little easier. I prefer characters who are strong and yet deeply flawed or conflicted.

Looking to the future now, what sort of acting roles will you be seeking in the future?

As I’m growing older, I’m excited to pursue more of the mother types of roles. Mothers are the most incredible people in the world, and yet they can often carry such burdens because of their emotional connection to their families (or even lack thereof). Mother in Ragtime and Diana in Next to Normal particularly interest me.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring artists?

Be able to look at yourself as an artist critically so that you can figure out the things to work on in order to optimize your hireability. Be friendly and humble. Don’t give up. Figure out the things that make you truly joyful and do them.

Can you tell us what you’re up to next and where we might be able to see you perform?

I’ll be performing in New York City Opera’s production of Brokeback Mountain (yes, it is an opera as well) in June. In July I’ll be reprising Lilli Vanessa in Kiss Me Kate at North Street Playhouse in Onancock, VA. In August, the Opera Cowgirls will return to Chicagoland for a number of shows, which we’ll be announcing shortly!

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