"...to be the best teacher and artist I can be."
- By gentleguide
- On Thu 13 Oct 2016
Karla Kash is many things, and all of them extraordinary. She is head of the B.F.A Musical Theatre program at Drake, a prolific director for theatre groups all over the area, and an actress who has performed coast-to-coast and around the world. And she's singing this Saturday at Noce's Late Night Cabaret.
Where do you begin to describe Karla Kash? First, she's one of very few area members of the Actors Equity Association (the union for theatre performers). As a performer she's appeared across the country (and even as far away as China). She will be singing at Noce's Late Night Cabaret this Saturday, and acting in the joint RTI/StageWest production of August: Osage County next spring. Karla Kash is a terrific presence on a stage....
But most people have more recently seen her work as a director. She just finished directing West Side Story, which is currently running at the DM Playhouse, and started this week directing Heathers - The Musical at Drake University. Just in the current year alone, she's director for SIX different shows, including with RTI and the Black Hills Playhouse with the University of South Dakota. (In some of those shows, she also handled choreography and stage fighting!) And she's directed over fifty different shows over the last decade. Karla Kash knows how to create a terrific presence for others on a stage as well....
But the real reason she's not on Broadway, or lighting up the stage in some other major city, is that for the past decade or so she's been teaching others to be that bright light. Karla is a tenured associate professor with the Drake theatre department, and she regularly teaches Musical Theatre I and II courses; Movement I and II courses; the highest level acting course given at Drake (Acting IV); biyearly courses in Dance Styles and in Audition Preparation; a Directing II course; and a History of Musical Theatre course (that's also offered online). She also teaches Dance. And if all that wasn't enough, she teaches Stage Combat Techniques, is certified and proficient in multiple weapon styles, and is the co-founder of Carnage in the Corn, a stage combat workshop held at Drake each November that will enter its ninth year this fall. Karla Kash is a facilitator and mentor for all those who share a dream of the stage....
And that's why she was awarded with Drake's Levitt Mentor of the Year Award in 2014, and her entire graduating class of students that spring all were working theatre professionals by the end of the year. She demands the best of her students and performers, expects them to work at being better every day, and achieves right along with them in every facet of performance and life.
Although she's taking a bit of a break in the spring and will be on sabbatical from Drake, "a bit of a break" is a relative term. She is still, in 2017, directing/choreographing 2 musicals, 1 Shakespeare play (RTI's summer show Taming of the Shrew at Salisbury House), and getting back to her acting chops by performing in two shows (including in the aforementioned August: Osage County as Barbara, a role she's looked forward to playing for quite a awhile).
Oh, and she's producing a video series and writing a companion book about performance technique and heightened acting styles. (In her spare time... as if there was such a thing....). The proposal looks fascinating, and once the project reaches fruition, the Gentle Guide will have more information then.
Right now, Heathers - the Musical is her current production focus, and judging by the talent level of a few of her students who showed their skills last week at the Musical Theatre Karaoke night, attendees are in for a stellar experience. But first, there's a little time for the rest of us to relax and enjoy the performing Karla Kash.
Karla is the second local talent to be a part of the Late Night Cabaret series (after the wonderful Charlie Reese did the honors last month). With her experience in musical theatre as an actress, director, and educator, you can bet patrons will get a master class during the show. Joined onstage by Adam Jedlicka (her assistant director for West Side Story and a recent BFA graduate from Drake), this is a "can't miss" show from someone with a history of "can't miss" shows.
"I desire to continue to strive to be the best teacher and artist I can be."
That's a quote from Karla's proposal for the video/book project, but it really is a great description of her life and work. Share some of the best of her Saturday night....