Summer Spotlight: Musical Theater Student Katie O’Rourke Writes from Peregrine Theatre Ensemble

student Katie O'Rourke

Katie O'Rourke

Class of 2019 B.F.A., Musical Theater

July 1, 2017

Provincetown, Massachusetts

This summer, I am playing the role of Velma Kelly in Peregrine Theatre Ensemble’s production of Chicago the Musical in Provincetown, Massachusetts. We began rehearsals on June 6, and our run is from July 6 through September 2 at Fisherman Hall.  

Alumnus Adam Berry (B.F.A. '05, musical theater) is the executive director and cofounder of Peregrine, along with his husband, Ben Berry. Our phenomenal director, Kyle Pleasant (B.F.A. '05, musical theater), is a Conservatory alumnus as well. Auditioning for them on campus was an amazing experience, and working with them has been even better.

This experience has continued to exercise my stamina as an artist. Whether I am sight reading and memorizing new music in an hour, speaking through my songs to practice contemporary vocal technique, or contorting my body for Fosse choreography, I'm using all the training I've received over the past two years at the Conservatory. We ran the entire show in less than two weeks, so we are now delving into the details and the moments in the show that will make the material unique and truthful to us.

Beyond working on the musical itself, the Peregrine program has provided some fun and unique opportunities. In our first two weeks of rehearsal in New York City, Adam Berry and I were guests on Seth Speaks, a Sirius XM Radio show on the Broadway station with host Seth Rudetsky. Adam talked about our show and I was asked to sing “All That Jazz,” which was a lot less intimidating than I expected, and very exciting. In our down time, the cast and I will also participate in classes and workshops with various industry professionals. We will work on new repertoire, ask questions about the industry, and further develop as artists. As someone who is happiest when she is working on what she loves, this is an ideal summer setup!

The most challenging part of this experience for me is taking on this specific role at a seemingly younger age than is typical for the role of Velma. In researching the history of Chicago the Musical, the facts I read about Velma were fascinating, cringeworthy, and heartbreaking. I want to bring my truth to her as much as I can, and I don't think that being young means I can't portray my truth through her story. I've considered the implications of Velma’s life from every possible angle to be the best storyteller I can be.

My time at the Conservatory has already provided me with a well-rounded education and has helped prepare me for challenging roles like Velma. I can take on any role with dedication to the subject matter and I have the means to take care of myself in the process. It's amazing to think that I've gotten this far and surpassed so many personal goals and I'm only halfway done with my musical theater degree.