Don’t Feed the Actors…
or They’ll Never Learn Their Lines
It’s no secret that actors are a different kind of animal, right? They creep out after dark to stand in the spotlight and rock a little public speaking and, more often than not, they do it all in heels. We thought we’d take a moment and sit down with the cast of “Stepping Out” to see if we couldn’t get a peek inside the mind an actor to see what makes them tick.
Meet Kasandra Ager-Cooper, Oliv Devine and Stephanie Bussiere, who play, respectively, Sylvia, Rose and Mavis in “Stepping Out.”
MOH: Acting doesn’t tend to pay the rent, especially in community theater. Come to think of it, community theater doesn’t pay anything at all, since all the actors are volunteers. What is your day job?
Kasandra: I’m a paraprofessional/ESP for the eighth grade at Spearfish Middle School.
Stephanie: I work with Monument Dermatology as a patient access specialist.
MOH: Of all the things you could be doing with your free time, why did you want to be involved in this show?
Stephanie: This show has been wonderful but it’s not the title that originally drew me in to audition, rather, it’s the place itself. When there’s community theater happening at the Matthews, I want to be involved. It’s my Happy Place!
MOH: What’s been the most challenging thing about bringing the script for “Stepping Out” to life?
Olive: It’s absolutely been the different dynamics between the characters working on stage.
Kasandra: For me it’s been making sure I have my lines memorized so I can move around and “act” natural!
MOH: What would be the worst “buy one, get one free” sale of all time:
Olive: For me? A lifetime supply of peanut butter…I’m allergic.
MOH: When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you do?
Stephanie: Review my lines, drink water and watch dance videos on YouTube. Well, for this show anyway, since my character is a dance teacher and I am definitely not one in real life.
Kasandra: We usually run straight through the script so we are able to practice, practice, practice! But, when I’m waiting for my parts I like to watch the others on stage and replenish my character’s bubblegum.
MOH: A lot has been said about the many benefits of involvement in the arts. What’s one life skill you feel theater has taught you?
Olive: One thing I’ve learned from my years in the theater is how to interact with anyone. Oh, and how to dance. The most challenging thing I’ve done so far with this show is dance but I can say I’ve grown as a person because I can dance now!
MOH: Do you think pineapple belongs on pizza?
Stephanie: Nope. But spinach does.
Kassandra: You’re kidding! Pineapple absolutely belongs on pizza! It’s my favorite kind–extra pineapple, please!
MOH: What’s been your best offstage moment?
Kasandra: To be honest, most of the best moments have been on stage when we have mishaps or realizations and we all have a genuinely good laugh.
MOH: Besides yourself, which actor in this show is going to blow people away?
Stephanie: Oh, it’s going to be Kassandra. It’s her first show. Really!
Kassandra: Marybeth Runnels as Mrs. Fraser.
MOH: What’s one thing you love and one thing you hate about your character?
Olive: I love Rose’s attitude but I hate the shoes!
MOH: Everyone has an origin story. How did you get into acting?
Stephanie: I’ve been acting since I was tiny, starting with watching my favorite movies over and over and over…and acting out a different character each time.
Kassandra: The only acting I’ve done was in high school. A few friends and I were cast as card guards in “Alice in Wonderland.” I only had two lines but it was a blast!
MOH: Theater is usually a team sport. What can actors do to help each other succeed in their roles?
Stephanie: Simple encouragement goes a long way. Being patient with each other as we memorize lines is important, too.
MOH: Call someone out by name. Who needs to see this production?
Olive: Dixy Divine.
MOH: Can you describe “Stepping Out” in only four words?
Kassandra: Challenge accepted. Life’s like a dance. Sometimes we know the steps and sometimes we make them up.
MOH: That was…a few more words than expected. Stephanie, want to try?
Stephanie: Dancing people navigating life.
MOH: Well done. You win, Stephanie. Finally…I’ve been wondering this my whole life. If animals could talk, which would be the rudest?
Olive: The tortoise. Hands down. You know, it’s like an old man, yelling at everyone for going too fast.
Thank you for giving us a peek behind the stage curtains, Kassandra, Olive and Stephanie! We look forward to seeing you put your best foot forward in “Stepping Out,” which opens April 1 and runs through April 10 at the Matthews Opera House. To see them perform, get your tickets at https://www.matthewsopera.com/event/stepping-out/all/ or by calling (605) 642-7973.