Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the tag “South Pacific”

KS Stevens

KS Stevens, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPlaywright
New York, New York USA

When I look for inspiration among playwrights, I look to Rodgers & Hammerstein, Kander and Ebb, Laurents and Sondheim. The attention paid to crafting rich stories and characters made my experiences in the theatre emotional ones. I grew up devouring the musicals from Rodgers and Hammerstein. When I got older I rented their musicals and to see what else they had done and saw South Pacific. When I first watched and heard the song “Carefully Taught” I cried. Here was this writing team from the ‘40s and ‘50s that I thought only wrote sweet musicals with children in King and I and Sound of Music and I now heard this song talking about racism being taught and learned, 30 years before I was born. It was so bold and unique. That’s when I realized musical theatre and theatre could have social impact for the better. They tackled racism and civil rights in their shows over and over. When I realized without them there would be three less Asian-American musicals it really made me stop and think about their views and what drove them as artists to use theatre as their artistic vehicles.

My new musical BIG EXCELLENT 20TH REUNION is intentionally ethnically diverse on stage and behind the scenes. It is historically the first Off Broadway production that was created by and has lyrics, libretto and composition written by an Asian-American woman. In addition to this, I am self-producing it. It is very funny because it talks about loss, family and the impact of HIV, civil rights, and cancer within a close circle of friends. It also gives voices to those that haven’t seen much representation. My characters are dynamic because they are beautiful, with flaws, and could be anyone’s best friend, brother, sister, daughter or son. And if one person stands up for someone else inside the theatre, then hopefully they will continue in real life.

KS Stevens debuts her new musical BIG EXCELLENT 20TH REUNION June, Off Broadway. (creator, producer, librettist, lyricist and composer.) Credits: Butch Mamas!, Yellow Lens & The Scene, “GO Magazine’s: 100 Women We Love.” Member: Dramatists Guild of America, Women’s Initiative 50/50 in 2020, Asian American Film Lab, & WOW Cafe Theatre.

Sheilah Rae

Sheilah Rae, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenLyricist, Librettist, Composer, Producer
New York, New York USA

By the time I was five I was already studying ballet and piano, and had seen several children’s musicals, so it wasn’t that big of a leap that when I was five years old, and my sister Judy was three, my mother dressed us alike, and complete with white gloves, toted us off to see the National Company in Chicago of South Pacific. I remember that day as if it were yesterday, from where our seats were, to what the theater looked like…and of course, the piece! This was my first Broadway musical, and I was mesmerized, and I told my mother right then and there that when I grew up, I wanted to ‘do that’—whatever that meant. She assumed it meant that I wanted to be a performer, and for many years, that’s where I thought I was headed too, but I was always consumed with the creative process. How could anyone actually sit down and write South Pacific?? I have been very blessed in that I was able to more or less realize my dream. I was a Broadway performer for many, many years, and then made the segue to full time songwriter as I began a family. I am grateful that I could pursue my career with the help and encouragement of my family, and even as I became a wife and mother, was able to continue a life in the record business, jingle business, and then again the theater. I have been a member of Equity since 1963, and that is a long time. And even before I had my Equity card, I was performing in ballets in Chicago from the time I was about nine. Seeing the recent South Pacific brought back a flooding of those early childhood memories—and I am still asking myself, ‘how does anyone actually sit down and write South Pacific?

Sheilah Rae: Co-book/lyrics, ‘Funny, You Don’t Look Like A Grandmother’ pub. Sam French. Co-book/lyrics ‘I Married Wyatt Earp’, Off Broadway 2011. Heideman Award Finalist 2005; ‘Lovelines’, 2006; ‘What Goes Around’, 2010; ‘The Waiter’, 2011;‘ Single and Active’ with Michele Brourman. Past president of LPTW. President Board New York Theatre Barn. AEA, SAG, AFTRA, Local 802, The Dramatists Guild, Songwriters Guild.

Sue Bartelt

Sue Bartelt, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenFinance, production and general management
New York, New York USA

I was very lucky growing up. My parents are both professors and there was a summer stock at the college they taught at, so, from a very young age, I got to see three musicals and one children’s show every summer. And a good children’s show, at that. After one show, when I was about 9, I turned to my mom and asked her if they ever used kids in the shows. And her response was, “I don’t know. You should call them and ask.” She sat down with me and we planned out what I would say on the phone (she refused to be a stage mom and it helped that she knew that the guy who ran the program would be kind to me) and I called and left him a message. It turned out they were going to do South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music the next season. I later found out he was terrified of working with kids, but knew I was nice and would behave and listen to direction, so he cast me in South Pacific and The Sound of Music, the two productions he would be directing. From that point forward, I knew I wanted to do theatre. I loved everything about it, but was fascinated and downright entranced by what was happening backstage, which eventually led me to abandon performing for what I thought was the “interesting stuff”. That same summer stock changed my life, yet again, a few years later. I had pretty much only been exposed to “classic” musicals up to that point, but that summer they did Pippin. I didn’t know shows like that existed and the idea of a musical like that completely blew my mind. My brain raced with the possibilities of all of the interesting theatre that was out there for me to experience.

Sue Bartelt. Currently the Assistant Director of Finance for Frankel Green Theatrical Management, Sue has worked in many different capacities over her career.  Starting as a stagehand in a road house, she eventually moved into the management side of theatre and, after going back to school for her degree in accounting, into Finance.

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