Wildcat Alum makes a scene in Dames at Sea!
The University of Arizona has its share of notable alumni. The newest Wildcat to make a scene is Melissa WolfKlain, who is a professional actress who graduated from UA in 2001 with a BFA in Musical Theatre. She has gone on to be an award-winning actress f
WolfKlain has played characters in theatrical performances like Grease, Cabaret, Funny Girl and Thoroughly Modern Millie. She has also has played supporting roles in Lifetimes’s The Truth about Jane and FOX Network’s America’s Most Wanted.
WolfKlain’s successful career as an actress, singer and dancer has led her to currently reside in the San Francisco Bay area. The Daily Wildcat asked her for any success tips she may have for aspiring actors who wish to make the world their stage.
Daily Wildcat: Why did you decide to pursue your field of study?
Melissa WolfKlain: I decided to pursue a degree in theatre because it’s the only thing I ever wanted to do in my life. There was never any other option or “backup plan” for me.
DW: When did your involvement in theatre begin?
MW: I performed in my first musical at 11 years old in sixth grade. My first lead role came in eighth grade when my drama teacher cast me in Flower Drum Song as the whitest, blondest Linda Lo you’ve ever seen. I was hooked.
DW: When did you land your first major role as an actress?
MW: I suppose one of my big breaks occurred when I booked the national tour of 42nd Street as Ethel and got my Equity card. Actors’ Equity Association is the professional stage actors’ union.
DW: What is your favorite part of your job?
MW: My favorite part of my job is that I love helping people feel something. It’s so fulfilling to have someone come up to you after a performance and say that they were having a hard day and you made them forget their troubles, that you made them laugh or empathize or think. Art is very powerful, and I’m so lucky to be able to make it for a living. Also, I get to do different things and work with different people in different places all the time. It keeps it interesting.
DW: Tell me about your character Joan in Dames at Sea.
MW: In Dames at Sea there are only six actors. We each play an archetypal musical theatre character. Joan is a sassy, no-nonsense, chorus girl who’s been in the business a while and knows everybody and everything. She’s very bright and comes up with the idea to save the show by putting Ruby in the lead.
DW: What is your favorite part of playing a character like Joan?
MW: I love playing strong female characters. She doesn’t take crap from anybody, and she knows who she is and how to get what she wants.
DW: How important do you think mentors are in theatre?
MW: I think it’s very important to have mentors in the theatre. It helps to have others that have gone before to help motivate and encourage you. It can be a hard, lonely business sometimes. It’s nice to know you have people on your side.
DW: Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
MW: My advice for aspiring actors is, first of all, don’t call yourself an “aspiring actor.” You’re an actor. Period. If it’s what you do and what you love, that’s what you are. I would say that actors need to be very good at taking rejection. Try to develop a thick skin and don’t get too caught up in losing parts. There will always be another one. A mentor of mine said to do something for your career every day. Even if it means listening to a new show or going to the gym, try to be the best you can be.
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WolfKlain has been awarded the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Award for Best Female Principal Performance three times for her performances as Kathy Seldon in Singin’ in the Rain and Polly Baker in Crazy for You. She was later awarded the same title for her nominated role as Aileen Garett in the world premiere of Tinyard Hill.
WolfKlain will be playing Joan in the 2018 production of Dames at Sea. Opening night is scheduled for Nov. 28 at the Gateway Theatre in San Francisco. The show will run until Dec. 16.
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