They’re like peanut butter and jelly – mac and the cheese. Marlena Sculthorpe and Samantha Clark are great friends who finally have the chance to be sisters – if only in a show! They will appear in our upcoming production of White Christmas as Betty and Judy Haynes.
We thought it would be fun to have them chat and ask questions of each other. So… over to you, girls!
Marlena: Sam, how many shows have we worked on together? I’ve lost count….
Sam: I went back to the VOS website and was looking through the old posters. We’ve worked on 3 shows together. There was White Christmas the first time around (2010), Oklahoma and Nunsense before I went to University, then some with me as crew, and now I’m excited to be back on stage with you! What’s your favourite memory of us doing theatre together? You have to have at least one.
Marlena: I have lots of memories of us working on shows together. Mostly backstage dancing, jokes and eating dinner between Saturday shows. I have a specific memory of the performance of Nunsense, when we were doing the “Dying Nun Ballet” (a ridiculous ballet piece where we recreated the death of the Sisters of Hoboken from the poisoned Vichyssoise soup). I had a big soup pot that I pranced around with and at the end of the ballet, the pot is passed off to another Nun and you (Sister Mary Leo) were supposed to throw up in the pot. We finished the piece, went backstage and you were crying because the pot hit you in the nose when you were doing the “throw up in the pot” business and it made your nose bleed. I was so thrown off by this because you gave NO indication on stage that anything went wrong. I went back up to the stage to enter to sing my next number and the band started the number in the wrong key, but somehow we managed to get everything back on track. That’s the beauty of live theatre – you never know what the hell is going to happen up there!
Marlena: What are your fav backstage memories from 2010 White Christmas?
Sam: Oh that’s easy, dancing with Mary Ann during the overture! It was my first show back onstage with VOS since The Wizard of Oz and after having worked backstage and under the stage (true story) for so many years. Getting to work with my Grandpa again, who was playing the general, was also very special as White Christmas is one of our favourite movies. During ‘Best Things’ I would have my big moment as the cigarette girl and my one line “Cigarettes, cigars, candy!” and then run a loop of the backstage before coming back on stage left and singing during Emma (Judy) and Sean (Phil)’s big dance number. I always made a point of doing a new dance move each night back there as the crew of people waited for my move of the night.
I also remember dancing ‘Let Yourself Go” at the top of the show and looking off Stage Left each night to see you and Emma mimicking me fanning myself and singing “hot” and killing yourselves laughing. I still laugh watching the current cast dance that number and thinking about you two in the wings.
Sam: The process of creating a show from scratch is very different from remounting it. What would you say are the benefits to revisiting a show again?
Marlena: Well, revisiting a show is a great way to put it, but I would disagree. The process is very much the same. Saying remount, makes the process sound much easier than it is because in reality the only “easy” part is that your lines and songs are the same. Even then, your brain forgets lines and lyrics. At times I have flashbacks to blocking or choreography from previous productions, so a remount can be more confusing.
Sam: You have had a number of fantastic roles since I’ve known you, each have had a very different personality. Betty has to be the most uptight of the bunch and probably the furthest from the Marlena most people would know. What character have you played that you would say is closest to your own personality?
Marlena: Well, that’s tough question. There are definitely aspects of Betty that are totally me. It’s not so much that I’m not like Betty, but that comedy and silliness is second nature to me onstage. I find it much easier to do an impression or a gag. I’m a combo of all of them but, I’m probably most like Princess Fiona.
Marlena: To copy the newest trend on Facebook, what 3 fictional characters are you most like?
Sam: This is probably the hardest question so far. I’m going to look at this like who I wish I was a combination of… Donna from Suits, Lorelei from Gilmore Girls & you would say a little bit of Nellie Forbush haha nothing wrong with a cockeyed optimist.
Marlena: What have you been doing since the last time we saw you onstage in a VOS Production?
Sam: Well after Oklahoma I went off to Queen’s for four years and studied Drama. I thought initially I wanted to go into sciences but it became clear pretty quickly that I wanted to be in the arts. Queen’s was amazing. I loved my program and the student culture and my profs and I got heavily involved in student theatre. I just graduated this past spring and am back living in Cobourg now. This past summer I had the awesome opportunity of being in an Opera written by Brian Finley at Westben Arts Festival Theatre in Campbellford called the Pencil Salesman. Joel Varty who plays Bob was actually my scene partner. It was a riot.
Marlena: While you were away at University you managed to get home to work backstage for the VOS. We have seen you in your ‘blacks’ many times back there, hanging out after your final exams…….
Sam: Oh no, I didn’t actually volunteer. I was just bored and everything I own is black Lululemon 🙂 I love being a stage hand back there. When I was away at University it wasn’t really a trip home unless I went to Vic Hall for an extended period of time. Working as a dresser, stage hand, dragon puppet master, wig mistress, FOH girl were just awesome ways for me to continue my involvement in the organization with all the people I love. But, I’m still sorry for that time, as your dresser, I sent you out in one leg warmer…. maybe it was a strong choice on the part of your character?
Sam: There was a bit of a secret last time you played the role of Betty, you were pregnant! How did you manage performing a lead role while also being 4 months pregnant with Ewan?
Marlena: Ugh. Honestly, I don’t know. The only time I didn’t throw up was when I was onstage. No one in the cast knew, so I guess mind over matter so that they didn’t find out. I kept a bucket in my car and used it frequently. Again, you never really know what is going on behind the scenes. People frequently perform when they’re ill, exhausted or injured and it’s our job to not let the audience see that.
Sam: Your dad and mom are both involved in the show this time around. Your dad played trumpet in the pit for Young Frankenstein, your mom is working front of house. What do you like about having your family involved and do you think you’ll ever get your boys in theatre?
Marlena: My parents have always been involved in music. They met when they were in the Concert Band a million years ago and I grew up following them to band events. Of course I don’t like it when they get too wrapped up in the production because they are my go-to babysitters. Mom – if you’re reading this, you can only commit to 50% of the shows for front of house 😉 At some point very soon, the boys will start coming to see theatre and I’m sure they will love it.
Marlena: Are we like Betty and Judy in real life?
Sam: Absolutely not. If anything I think we’re switched. You’re probably the most fun loving human I know and I have a history of being a wee bit apprehensive to try new things.
Sam: We worked with J.P. back when we did Nunsense and had a riot. I’m also jealous of the fact that you worked with J.P. when you were in High School and doing Ganaraska Summer Stage. What’s your favourite part about working with him as a director and choreographer?
Marlena: I worked with J.P. in South Pacific with Ganaraska Summer Stage when I was 14. I can still visualize him in a sailor cap and stripes. We reconnected when I went to Nunsense auditions, the day after the White Christmas 2010 cast party, completely unprepared and feeling tired from finishing a run. I think I did the Sisters dance by myself with a file folder instead of a fan. J.P. is great because he has the confidence that you can do great things, but without any of the pressure. He and I like to play the same kind of roles. To quote J.P. we are both “Waka Waka” actors and we have both played the role of Sister Robert Anne. He easily sees the jokes and knows what’s funny. He’s a professional, and treats us all with great respect whether we are working with him onstage as an actor or as our director/choreographer. We are lucky to have him.
Sam: You’ve worked on the VOS Board for 3 or 4 years? Even though performing is obviously your home base in theatre, what aspects of the other jobs you’ve held do you enjoy and why do you do them?
Marlena: I have been on the Board since 2012, but in that time I had 2 kids so sometimes my involvement was spotty at best. I try to help out with things when I can. Walking in parades is very doable with kids. I am happy to email, organize and fill out applications because I can do this on my own time. I’ve been in lots of shows because that’s obviously the thing that I enjoy most. I try to help out behind the scenes because that is where a HUGE bulk of the work is. Producing, directing, building sets etc takes hundreds, if not thousands of hours and those people don’t get a laugh or a big clap at the end of a number. Doing that stuff isn’t my favourite part, but it’s stuff that needs to be done so that we can do what we love onstage. If everyone helps out here and there it really helps the entire effort.