Kaitlyn Mayse fell in love with musical theater at the tender age of seven when she played a munchkin in a high school performance of The Wizard of Oz.
Already a dancer from the age of three or four, Kaitlyn said she knew during that first show that she had “caught the acting bug.”
The 25-year-old St. Louis native has performed in Oklahoma, Beauty and the Beast, Ragtime and Rapunzel, and now she is starring in the leading role in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
The 2013 Tony-Award-winning show is playing at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music, Friday, February 22 to Sunday, February 24.
“We invite audiences near and far to join us at the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus to experience the magic of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” said Anne Ewers, President, and CEO of the Kimmel Center of the Performing Arts.
“This beloved fairytale has been beautifully contemporized for the stage,” she said, “with the same inspiring story of female empowerment and resiliency.”
Cinderella longs to escape the drudgery of cleaning up her stepfamily’s messes and instead works to make the world a better place. She not only fights for her own dreams but forces the prince to open his eyes to the world around him and realize his dreams, too.
With its fresh new take on the beloved tale of a young woman who is transformed from a chambermaid into a princess, this hilarious and romantic Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella combines the story’s classic elements – glass slippers, pumpkin, and a beautiful ball – along with some surprising twists.
More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, this Cinderella is a contemporary figure living in a fairytale setting. She is a spirited young woman with savvy and soul who doesn’t let her rags or her gowns trip her up in her quest for kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.
For Kaitlyn, playing Cinderella, opposite Lukas James Miller, as her dashing prince, is clear proof that fairy tales do come true.
How long have you been playing Cinderella on this tour?
Kaitlyn Mayse: I have been performing the role of Ella since October 2018. I was an ensemble dancer and understudy for Cinderella and one of the stepsisters for the 2017-2018. I asked to be considered, did several auditions for the role, and here I am.
What do you love about musicals?
I think what draws me to musicals is this thing that happens when talking doesn’t suffice. The emotions are just so great that you have to sing or dance. It’s about having a different way of expressing yourself than just using words.
How has the role evolved for you since October?
Every day I get a little more comfortable with it. It is exciting to find new ways to work the songs with my voice. There is great chemistry with the prince and my stepfamily in the show, especially as we become closer friends off stage. There is always something fresh and new about the performance which makes it even more exciting.
What do you love about this show?
There is so much to love. I really enjoy doing A Lovely Night. It’s a beautiful quarter with four women’ that really never happens in musical theater. Getting to sing this beautiful song with three other women is awesome.
Did you conduct research for this role?
I had seen the movies. So, I basically just took the scripts and the songs and worked off of that. I didn’t look too much at what other people have done, I wanted to make it my own.
My favorite songs are, Do I Love You and 10 Minutes Ago.
Yes, Rogers and Hammerstein orchestrations and lyrics are the best.
Where is the tour today?
We are in Charleston, South Carolina. It is very chilly, gray and it is going to rain. Definitely not as warm as we had hoped.
What are some of the best stops in the tour so far that surprised you?
I hate the cold but I loved Anchorage, Alaska. The people and the audiences there were fantastic. I also enjoyed Fort Collins, Colorado. Places like that make it all worthwhile.
Have you spent much time in Philadelphia?
The prince and I performed in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was so exciting to have all of those people watching you. It was very cold last year, but I had never done anything like that before, and it was awesome. We won’t have much time, but hopefully, we will get to tour a little and eat a little.
So, how did you end up in The Wizard of Oz at age seven?
My aunt was a high school teacher and they were doing the show that year. I played a munchkin and I was bitten by the acting bug; it was love at first sight.
Who inspired and encouraged you?
A lot of it had to do with my passion for musical theater in general, but my parents have always been really supportive of me. They are really proud of me and I am so lucky and fortunate to be able to do what I love.
Do you have a career plan? Broadway, TV, movies?
All of that would be lovely, but it’s fine if I am fortunate to keep consistently working as I have. We will see what happens.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
My biggest advice is to find the people who support you and understand that not everything is going to be yes. If you find the people who love what you do and support you, then you can truly flourish.
If I had met you a few years ago and told you that you would be playing the leading role in Cinderella in 2019, what would you have told me?
I would have said ‘thank you for believing in me. I never thought that it was in the cards.’ Growing up and going to college I had self-esteem issues, so I would have felt lucky I worked hard and that my hopes and dreams came to fruition.
Overall, what do you love about this show?
It’s a message of kindness. It’s so lovely that we get to share this important message every night. Having all of the little ones, kind and loving people, looking up to me is the best part of the show. It’s the classic story that everyone loves – but there is also a fresh take on the story, since Cinderella, takes charge of her own destiny. So, it’s more modern in that way. It’s truly a show for everybody.
Tickets for Cinderella are available at kimmelcenter.org.