theaters, but is preparing to give New York a shot
Courtney Hatcher has been a very, very busy actor/singer/dancer in the San Francisco Bay Area.
At the moment, she is dazzling in pink as Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde: The Musical" at Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City. Just before that, she was in Andrew Lippa's shocking "The Wild Party" at San Jose Stage Company, and before that she looked great dressed only in a towel for "Boeing, Boeing," also at San Jose Stage, and before that she was Logaine Schwartzandgrubbeniere in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" at Hillbarn, and before that was "The Nance" at New Conservatory Theatre Center and before that was "Addams Family" musical at San Jose Stage, and before that ... lots and lots of other shows. Including "The Great American Trailer Park Musical," which was kind of in a class all its own.
As a theater critic, I have seen her in a lot of shows, and always enjoyed her performances. Sure, she's beautiful and moves well, but she is also an excellent actor.
She is always fully in her roles, and takes them strongly through whatever their character curve might be. In "Boeing, Boeing," for instance, she takes her flight attendant character from seeming airhead to being the most hard-assed, manipulative person in the play. In "Spelling Bee," she put Logaine's sad insecurities on the stage for us all to see, and as I said in my review, "was very impressive, physically. She seemed so petite and vulnerable at times, even when I know her to have seemed tall and powerful in other roles."
But before long, it may get to be tough to see this beautiful, talented young performer on Bay Area stages, because in the spring of 2017, she's outta here, babies, headed for New York, New York.
If she can make it there, she can make it anywhere.
"I'm going to go try," she said during a recent phone interview. "I don't want to wake up when I'm 45 and regret not having tried. I'm going to go try, and if it ends up being something I hate, at least I can say I did it.
"I'll audition for everything. I'll soak it up, for experience. New York shows, regional productions, tours, cruises.
"I'll give it as least a year. I know a lot of people there, have great connections, people I know from here who are there. I have a lot of ties."
That whole New York theater thing is part of why she finally got her Actors Equity card, which can be both a blessing and a problem. On the one hand, there is better pay, and if an actor works enough in a year, insurance. On the other hand, lots of theaters in the Bay Area just don't hire Equity actors, because they can't afford them.
"Legally Blonde: The Musical" is only Hatcher's second Equity role, the first being "The Wild Party," earlier this year.
But if an actor goes to New York she or he had better be carrying an Equity card.
"I waited a long time" before getting her Equity card, Hatcher said. "I started the candidate program in 2012, and kept putting it off. But it felt right when they offered Equity contracts for 'Wild Party.'"
Why did Hillbarn Executive Artistic Director Dan Demers invest an Equity role in Hatcher?
"Casting is never a direct science," Demers said in email. "The Bay Area is so rich with talent it's so casting becomes one of the hardest decisions a director can make. Out of that large pool the director has to find the each matching piece for that version of the show; 'Legally Blonde' was no different.
"I had three girls, Courtney included, who were stellar, and brought Elle Woods to life in many different ways. At the end of the day, it was about chemistry, the right fit for the show, and the overall dynamic. Courtney has grown so much since the last time we did the show four years ago (at Palo Alto Players). It was like having a different person audition, in all honesty.
"She made, and continues to make wonderful bold choices. That is why she was my Elle Woods this time, she has found Elle's voice, character and innocence and worked so hard with this amazing cast to bring this story to life. The Bay Area is lucky to have someone like Courtney and all the amazing women who work with her and beside her here."
Having seen the show, I have to agree with Demers about the amazing women. Jocelyn Pickett, for instance, blows the doors off the old Hillbarn Theatre with her powerful voice. Noelani Neal is breath-takingly beautiful, and is also an excellent singer, dancer and actor. Gennine Harrington just about steals the entire show every time she's on stage. Really, the entire cast is very watchable.
Working on "Legally Blonde: The Musical" again with Demers has been a good experience, said Hatcher.
"It's really funny," she said. "We're really comfortable with each other now. There are moments when we said, 'Remember when we did this?' 'Remember when this didn't work?' We're making the bits work better."
Email John Orr at firstname.lastname@example.org