Village Theatre presents world premiere of ‘Stunt Girl’

March 16, 2009

By David Hayes

Bellevue native relishes role of pioneering reporter Nellie Bly

When Sarah Chalfy was offered the starring role of Nellie Bly in Village Theatre’s world premiere of the new musical “Stunt Girl,” she was a little incredulous.

Sarah Chalfy stars as Nellie Bly in the Village Theatre production of ‘Stunt Girl.’By John Pai/ Village theatre

Sarah Chalfy stars as Nellie Bly in the Village Theatre production of ‘Stunt Girl.’By John Pai/ Village theatre

See, the Bellevue native recalled memories of Issaquah’s theater scene from 15 years ago, before the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre was built.

“I thought, how can someone with a little, tiny theater afford to fly me from New York,” said Chalfy, who lives in New York City. “But I said, ‘OK. Why not?’”

Having met the musical’s writers in New York, Chalfy is glad she was recruited for the lead.“I walked into the theater and was awestruck,” she said. “It’s a wonderful space, better than many spaces in New York.”

Chalfy left for New York at 16 when her mother moved the family there. Chalfy decided to pursue a classical singing career and spent eight years as an opera singer.

“But then I had a revelation,” she said. “I loved the stage. It’s more about taking risks and having fun. Opera is something that doesn’t allow for that. It’s not a very organic art form.”

Chalfy has played and won awards as a fictional characters in such productions as “The Music Man,” “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” But she relishes the opportunity to portray someone of true renown: Bly.

Bly’s achievements include working as World War I correspondent and as a groundbreaking investigative journalist who faked insanity in order to get committed and write an exposé about the inside of an asylum. Bly also set a record for traveling around the world.

“It’s an interesting balance to strike whenever you make a life theatrical or artistic,” Chalfy said. “You have to take some liberties to find her character. The facts of her life and the things she did are astonishing, but I found myself adding little elements of Sarah Chalfy to flesh it all out.”

Chalfy joins Village Theatre veterans Dane Stokinger (“The Gypsy King”) as reporter Aurtuer Brisbane; John Patrick Lowrie (“Barefoot in the Park”) as John Pulitzer; Hugh Hastings (“Little Women”) as businessman Robert Seaman; John X. Deveny (“Beauty and the Beast”); Jessica Skerritt (“Barefoot in the Park”); and Eric Polani Jenson (“Beauty and the Beast”).

Chalfy said the musical is appropriate for the entire family and that it should impress all.

“It’s a huge production,” she said. “Within the first five minutes, the sets change from a courtroom to a jail to a train. It’s a wild and wooly production. The set pieces come flying in and out.”

Chalfy said she is equally impressed by the writing tandem of Peter S. Kellogg and David Friedman.

“The music is gorgeous,” she said. “David did a great job of creating gorgeous, lyrical melodies which propels the worlds Peter has written. It has several toe-tapping numbers.”

Chalfy added the music is reminiscent of an older, parlor style.

“It’s sort of early 20th century with a modern sensibility,” she said.

If you go

“Stunt Girl”

March 18 – April 26

Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St. N.

Tickets: $22-$58

Call the Box Office at 392-2202 or go to www.villagetheatre.org

Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 237, or dhayes@isspress.com. Comment on this story at issaquahpress.com.

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