KIDSTAGE vet takes center stage in Village Theatre’s ‘The Tutor’
March 18, 2014
By Peter Clark
Village Theatre’s latest fare educates its lead as well as the character she plays.
In the new musical “The Tutor,” opening March 20, 16-year-old Katie Griffith plays a sullen teenage rich kid who gets taken under the wing of an aspiring novelist looking to make a quick buck by educating wealthy high schoolers on the side. The tutor, played by Eric Ankrim, may have bitten off more than he can chew with his newest charge.
“He tutors stupid rich kids and he gets me — a punk rocker who couldn’t care about less,” Griffith said. “Chaos ensues.”
While she has had a great amount of experience within the Village Theatre community, this will mark the first time the Issaquah High School student will play the lead on the main stage.
“I have a long history with this theater and I love it,” Griffith said. “I started on the KIDSTAGE when I was 9.”
Growing up in Issaquah, she said she was lucky to have such an active and vibrant theater base in her hometown. Young friends auditioned on the KIDSTAGE and suggested that she take part as well, which led to her long career there and her moving up to the main stage. Through dance classes and voice lessons, Griffith has worked to land her roles, including this one.
Casting for “The Tutor” occurred in October and she did not undersell her enthusiasm for getting the part of the lead, Sweetie.
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“It’s kind of a big deal,” Griffith said with a large smile. “I thought, ‘Are you serious?’ I wasn’t sure whether there was some big misunderstanding.”
Receiving the part proved to be only the beginning. Griffith said she had a bit of a wake-up call when rehearsals began.
“The most challenging part was kind of getting into it,” she said. “There was this sudden realization that I have to pull my own weight.”
Getting into character has not been too much of a challenge for the young actor, despite the lack of similarities between Sweetie and herself.
“On the outside, she’s sullen, wears black and has a pierced nose,” Griffith said. “That’s the farthest thing from me.”
Still, she found common ground in the character’s foundation.
“She struggles with the same things all teenagers struggle with,” she said. “There’s so much relatability to being a teenager and worrying about college and the SATs.”
“The Tutor” reins in the larger size of recent Village Theatre shows like “Xanadu,” “Les Misérables” and “Chicago,” offering a small cast from the local area. The only transplant is Director David Ira Goldstein, hailing from Village Theatre’s sister theater Arizona Theatre Co. in Phoenix, Ariz.
Through their short rehearsal period, Griffith said she has really grown to appreciate her fellow cast members.
“I have a talent-crush on everybody in the cast,” she said. “It’s such a small cast and you get to know them really well.”
Apart from the people from which she has learned, Griffith said the best part has been seeing writer Andrew Gerle and composer Maryrose Wood see their creation come to life. “The Tutor” initially played in the Village Originals program, and this marks its first production on a main stage.
“The best thing is the writer and composer coming in,” Griffith said. “It’s so much fun to see them discuss and see everything on its feet come to life. You get a really specific vision of what they hoped for.”
Griffith considers this as another step on her career path toward a college degree in theater and beyond.
“I’ve always had a strong feeling that this is what I want to do,” she said. “This is what I’m really passionate about.”
For now, she is excited to share a new musical with the community.
“It’s big and it’s really funny,” Griffith said. “It’s just a really big and bright atmosphere.”