Theater spotlight: Kathleen Macari

Photo courtesy Jeff Laydon
Kathleen Macari as Millie Dillmount in Thingamajig Theater Company’s production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

By Cynda Green
Special to The PREVIEW
“Knock your socks off spectacular!”
That’s how my out-of-town guest described Thingamajig Theater Company’s production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” starring Kathleen Macari as Millie Dillmount.
This is Macari’s second summer repertory season at the Pagosa Springs professional theater. Last summer, she was cast as Ensemble. Casually dressed in dance wear (she was practicing a silk routine later) and sporting a baseball cap, Macari talked about her journey from Ensemble to leading lady.
“I did my first UPTA (United Professional Theater Auditions) in February 2016. That’s the cattle call audition in Memphis, Tenn., and that is where I first met Tim Moore, Thingamajig’s artistic director. I had a great dance audition and felt super confident,” she recalled.
Later Macari bumped into Moore at the bar where companies socialize after auditions and they talked more. But she wasn’t cast for Thingamajig’s 2016 summer rep season.
Macari went back to UPTA in 2017.
“I had the worst dance call of my entire life. I actually stopped dancing in the middle of the call and thought ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’” she said.
Nonetheless, Macari got a callback for Thingamajig.
“Tim remembered me from the previous year. I apologized for my horrible dance call and Tim graciously told me I ‘just had an off day.’ He remembered my dance call from 2016. His kindness towards me made me more intent on working at Thingamajig,” Macari said.
Macari was cast as Ensemble for the 2017 summer rep season. She was a year out of college and had some lead roles under her belt, but it was her time to return to roles that supported incredible Thingamajig talent.
“I went back to my Ensemble tracks, but I knew I wanted to grow,” she said. “I wanted to stay with this company and build my place.”
At the end of the summer, Moore told Macari they were considering her for the winter 2018 show “Circle Mirror Transformation.” That was her way to show her acting chops.
“Acting is my thing. I can act and sing and dance,” she explained. “I can build trust with the company and the Thingamajig patrons.”
Moore called Macari into his office and asked if she wanted to return for summer rep. “Absolutely,” she replied.
Moore asked what she had in mind.
“Honestly, I’d like to try my hand at a lead part and some supporting parts,” she replied.
A week later, Macari sent Moore a video of her singing “Gimme Gimme” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” He liked it.
“Soon after, Tim sent me my track for the whole summer. It was better than I hoped for,” she explained.
Macari explained, “My character Millie is in the show title. That’s the first time I’ve had that. I’m in every scene. It’s a challenge, but I knew I could do it. Millie is a character that is so like me. I’ve never slipped into a character so easily. It’s the wig. As soon as I put that bob on, I’m Millie.”
Regarding her experience at Thingamajig, Macari said, “I’ve worked in other family-based theaters, and I’ve worked in theaters that are strictly production-based. You come in, do the show and go home. There’s no other responsibilities. Both types of theaters have their advantages. Here at Thingamajig I’ve gone from a standing ovation as Millie to cleaning the backstage toilet. When they need help with quick changes and I’m available, I do that. I help where I can. It’s a way to humble myself. Thingamajig really hones in on the group aspect and being a family and taking care of each other.”
Macari then reflected on her young career. “I believe everybody has multiple peaks in their life. I’ve done shows where I thought it can’t get better than this. I had my own dressing room. My own changer. But I can’t have peaked at age 22. This season is another one of those peaks because of the diversity of the three characters I get to play and showcasing that I can tap, I can sing, I can act, I can dance. I can be a boy. I can be a girl. I can do all of these things.”
Macari does indeed do all those things with ease and with the expertise of a consummate professional. Her supporting roles as Anybodys in “West Side Story,” and Serena in “Legally Blonde the Musical” are just as impressive.
“Anybodys is me as a child,” she said. “I grew up with two older brothers and I would dress up in their clothes and then go out and play in the mud. And I played Serena in ‘Legally Blonde’ my senior year in high school. So I got to reaffirm that character and do things I couldn’t do back then.
“And Millie is my present self. I want to go and get out there and live my life and be in Manhattan. I don’t think I’ll ever again have a repertory track as stocked as this, where I can portray different parts of my life through the characters. It’s incredible.”
Millie left small town Kansas for New York City. Following Thingamajig’s “Broadway in the Mountains” summer season, Macari will also be moving to NYC.
Before she leaves Pagosa, make it a point to see Macari and company in the delightful musical comedy “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” playing in repertory with “Legally Blonde,” “West Side Story,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Pinkalicious.” For show and ticket information, call 731-SHOW (7469) or visit pagosacenter.org.

This story was posted on August 10, 2018.