Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Kiss Me, Kate" Cast Spotlight: Jacob Walas

Audiences have been extremely impressed with the quality of the dance and choreography in the ACT musicals over the past two seasons - and we know it will be no different with Kiss Me, Kate! We've been so lucky to have Jacob Walas as the Dance Captain for several of those shows - and he's appeared as a lead dancer in the others! From the tips of his fingers to the end of his toes, Jacob is electric onstage. It's impossible not to feel the joy emanating from him when he's dancing. And guess what? He's as sunny offstage as he is on, which made this "Cast Spotlight" even more fun! 

As the Dance Captain for Kiss Me, Kate, when did your involvement with the show begin?
Actually, I got to help with the auditions. Chanda and I worked together on Hairspray last fall and I jumped at the chance to work with her some more. I am glad I was able to help because the audition process is my favorite part. It's the part of the process before everyone gets tired. Plus, at auditions, I heard a Cole Porter song for the first time that has become my favorite. A lovely lady came in and sang Cole Porter's "I Love All of You" - the lyrics gave me goosebumps.

Jacob as Lead Arabian in Asheville Ballet's The Nutcracker
Most people who have seen a musical at ACT in the past two years will surely recognize you – but you’ve also performed quite a bit elsewhere. Fill us in!
It’s true - at ACT, I have performed in Hairspray, Chicago, Guys and Dolls, and RENT. Also in Asheville, but in non-musical theatre, I was James in James and the Giant Peach, Eloi in Tennessee Williams’ drama Auto-da-Fe’, and Ariel in The Tempest. Most recently I got to step in as Grandpa George in my students' production of Willy Wonka, Jr. and that was probably one of my favorite memories. This past Christmas, I did my first production with the Asheville Ballet and danced Lead Arabian in The Nutcracker.

And with a classic Broadway musical like Kiss Me, Kate, there are plenty of big dance numbers.     
The choreography is BRILLIANT! It is challenging, but precise. And I think the audience will be very impressed to see the dance that graces this stage. Plus, the principle cast is dynamic, witty and moving. I am so thrilled the share this show with ACT audiences.

What has been your favorite moment from rehearsals?
This show has been rehearsed a bit differently than past shows. We have specialized the ensemble and explored and engaged their strengths. Doing this meant rehearsing the same number in many different locations (and completely separate from each other at times). My favorite moment was watching everyone come together the first time we rehearsed “Too Darn Hot.” We dancers had never heard the powerful brassy singers and likewise they had not yet seen us tear down the house with our great choreography. The beautiful thing is that each person has a strength that is equally matched and supported so when we come together on these numbers everyone is in awe.
Dream Team: Jacob with Fleming Lomax, best bud
and frequent co-star (she's amazing in Kiss Me, Kate)

Also, Kiss Me, Kate rehearsals happened to fall directly on my birthday this year and I was so blessed by the love of this cast! So many people I have just met came out to celebrate my birthday and get to know me, other cast mates and my friends. It was so cool!

You’re a bonafide stage veteran – what do you do when you’re not performing?
I am basically a triple threat: a dancer, a Gap dresser, and a nanny! :) Seriously, though, a typical day for me begins by waking up a little sore from the previous night’s rehearsal. Depending on the day I either dress up to go my job at The Gap in the Asheville Mall, or I dress ready to move for my job teaching dance at the Asheville Performing Arts Academy. Or- it could be one of the days I get to nanny two darling girls that I have nannied for the last 4 years.

Have you always known that you wanted to act or sing or dance?
I honestly can't remember a time where I didn't want to do any of those things. Performing is just like breathing for me: instinctual and necessary for life.

Do you have a number in the show that you’re most excited about performing? “We Open in Venice - I am really excited to wear Shakespearean costumes! And there is a donkey!

Kiss Me, Kate combines Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew with the music of Cole Porter.  Do you have a favorite Shakespearean quote? There are too many amazing Shakespeare quotes to pick just one … but I do have a favorite stage direction: "Exit, pursued by a bear" from A Winter's Tale.

"I know every step, I know every song": Jacob made
Hairspray even more fun!
Ha ha ha! It does makes sense that someone as keen to movement as you are would pick a stage direction! You’re really funny!
Just give me the chance to perform with someone very jovial like Carol Channing. I just think that she and I would have a blast playing off each other! Also she is 6 ft tall (people are surprised by how short I actually am), and I know we could be a comedic duo!

Spoiler alert: We don't have Carol Channing in our cast for Kiss Me, Kate. But we do have Jacob! If you love great, Broadway style dance numbers (and really, who doesn't?), don't miss Jacob tearing up the floor! Get your tickets today!

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