In the Spotlight: Marlena Sculthorpe

Marlena as Betty in White Christmas

We laughed with her as Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, we marvelled at her as Sister Robert Ann in Nunsense, we admired her as Clare in Vimy, and we fell in love with her as Betty in White Christmas.

This November, you can fall in love with her all over again as Kelly in the amazing new show, On The Rooftop.

Marlena Sculthorpe

This is Marlena Sculthorpe – and we had a chance to talk with her this week.

Q: Why do you do theatre?
A: I love musical theatre because it encompasses all of my interests in one medium.

      1. I love to sing.  I am that crazy person singing at the top of my lungs in my car.  Rock, country, rap, pop, jazz – you name it, I’m belting it out!
      2. I looooove to dance.  Whether at my cousin’s wedding or in a choreographed number, rhythm is in me and I need to let it out!
      3. Lastly, I love acting.  I especially love acting when I get to play a crazy character, crack jokes or do something challenging like “being serious”.  Man that’s hard for me!

Q: Who are Ian and Walker?
A: Ian is my farmer husband.  Ian loves farming – he especially loves his cows.  We have approximately 150 head of grass fed beef cattle in Port Britain (just west of Port Hope) and we also have about 100 acres of crops varying in type from year to year.  Ian spends a lot of time working, but takes some time to play ultimate Frisbee in the summer and hockey in the winter.  Although he doesn’t have the musical bug, he enjoys coming to watch VOS productions.  He loves the really corny jokes….those kind of leg slapping puns that only your grandfather enjoys.

Marlena and Walker

Walker is my very bright, determined 8 month old son.  Although most people say he looks like his father, he has his mother’s personality.  When I sing, he attempts to sing along making a really lovely sound.  Imagine a tone deaf lounge singer who’s spent more time drinking and smoking than singing.  He loves to watch me practice the choreography for the show.

Q: What motivates you to come back after starting a family?
A: I have been involved in theatre/performing since I was a small child.  I didn’t need a lot of motivation to come back.  It is so much a part of who I am that I really can’t stop doing it.  I think it’s important for a child to see a parent with a passion and be part of a group in the community.

My father has graciously offered to watch Walker when I’m rehearsing on Sunday afternoons and he and Ian share time looking after Walker when he’s sleeping in the evenings.  November is a pretty slow time of year for farming, so Ian and Walker will become good buddies.  There’s always a way to make it work.

Q: How many show tunes does Walker know so far?
A: He does a mean tap dance to “I love a Piano”.
Q: What has been your favourite moment in theatre?
A: Oh a tough one! Recently: The “Habit Humour” scene/jokes in Nunsense and the ballet piece in that show with Sam Clark made me crack up on the inside everytime.  Nunsense in general is a hilarious show.  I also loved playing Ado Annie.  I had so much fun with Nick Carreau and Jamie Hunt.

Marlena and Jamie Hunt
Q: What characters do you identify with that you’ve played?
A: I think to do a really good job with a part you have to identify with something in every character.  Even the worst character has to have some redeeming qualities – you have to find them to make the audience like you.  When I act I like to find things about the character that relate to my real life and past experiences.  It’s difficult to play your character and be able to react appropriately if you don’t have something to reference it to.  For me, acting is less about researching and looking externally for answers about your character, it’s more about looking internally to see how a real person would respond.  Even a comedic character has to be real.

Marlena Sculthorpe as Clare in Vimy

Q: What was the toughest thing you’ve had to do in theatre?
A: My answer will always be: play a serious role.  It doesn’t come naturally to me.  I’m much better at silly faces, exaggeration and funny voices.  I have to work so much harder for a dramatic role and I still feel like I’m not doing it right!  It boggles my mind when people can cry on command.  I absolutely can’t do that.