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Senior Spotlight: Kelsey Francis

May 2013

Hometown: Bettendorf, Iowa

Major: Journalism

Previous SAU Productions? A Christmas Carol ('99); Gypsy ('02;, Seussical Jr.; Les Liaisons Dangereuses; Almost, Maine; and Chicago.

What was your favorite role, and why? Roxie, in our production of Chicago. I've always loved her character in a strange sort of way. She's really an awful person, but then it's all the more thrilling to delve into a character completely opposite your personality. And moral fiber. In every way possible.

Who inspires you? My grandmother, hands-down. What an extraordinary woman! She worked several jobs to raise her four children and didn't have time to hem-haw about decisions she made. She reminds me I can't worry my life away in fear of failing at something, I just have to go for it. She has incredible work ethic, loves without expecting anything in return, and is one of the strongest people I know. If I can be half that kind of woman, I would be content.

What is your favorite play/musical and why? I recently saw Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl and loved it. It was this beautifully thought-provoking, bizarre collage of depression and comedy. But I also love a good musical that allows me to use my singing and acting skills, while being especially focused on dancing.

What drew you to the theatre and when? When I was eight years old, I auditioned for my first play ever–A Christmas Carol at St. Ambrose. I strolled onstage in my purple American Girl jacket, and I believe I sang a generic–but very sincere–rendition of "Jingle Bells." Little did I know that was only the beginning of my life in the theatre.

What is your favorite memory of the theatre? I have a dozen great show memories. But a truly poignant moment for me was getting cast right away in last fall's main stage production, just after transferring here as a senior. A couple days later I stopped by the theatre. I sometimes feel like I grew up there; at the very least, it was the scene of the crime where I fell in love with theatre. The stage was empty and dark, minus one light bulb off to the side. And I just sat down in the middle of the stage, looked out into the empty audience, and was totally overwhelmed with emotion. I'm glad no one came by because I probably looked like a creep, but I felt so relieved and happy to feel like I was finally where I belonged.

Any words of wisdom or advice for future theatre patrons? By various circumstances, I am not a theatre major. Or minor. But this does not mean that I don't have a deep passion for this art. Whether you can major, minor, or neither, if you love this, DO IT. Make time for your passions. They are what will preserve your sanity and feed your creativity, even in the most stressful of times.

What will you miss the most about the SAU Theatre Department? What won't I miss? I am only getting to enjoy this department for a year, and that is my biggest regret of all. I would love to have been here sooner, but I like to think everything happens for a reason. The professors and students alike welcome you with open arms. When people say this department becomes your family, they aren't kidding. I am so thankful for all of it.

What are your plans after graduation? My plans are to have some plans by then! Whatever I do, I want to go on an adventure to somewhere I have never been. I'd like to get into magazine writing, which will likely steer me toward a big city near the east coast. And of course, I will always be cultivating my artistic interests whenever and however I can.

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