Mari Duckler, junior, performs in Homestead’s “The Mikado” earlier this year. Duckler has been involved in numerous productions through Homestead and First Stage.
Mari Duckler, junior, performs in Homestead’s “The Mikado” earlier this year. Duckler has been involved in numerous productions through Homestead and First Stage.

Duckler to attend exclusive musical theater intensive

June 5, 2015

As the “nation’s oldest and largest outdoor  musical theatre,” according, the Muny’s stage has been home to Oscar winners Gene Kelly and Yul Brynner, Emmy recipients Carol Burnett and Angela Lansbury and Tony winners Joel Grey and Bernadette Peters.

This June, Mari Duckler, junior, will join the Muny alumni, as she graces the St. Louis stage in the Tony award winning musical, Hairspray.

Duckler will share her passion with Broadway stars Ryann Redmond and Bryan Batt, as well as 11 other aspiring actors from across the nation as part of the first MUNY/Webster Summer Intensive.

While the Muny has offered a year-round program for local teens in the past, it decided this year to “team up” with the Webster Conservatory in order to “open an opportunity for national teens” as well, according to Duckler.

The 12 teens who will attend the 3-week long intensive stood out among the approximately 100 applicants by sending in a video showcasing their exceptional singing and acting capabilities.

This program will be unlike anything else in the country,” Mike Isaacson, Muny Artistic Director and Executive Producer, said. “The Muny has always played a critical role in developing musical theater talent and this will further that great tradition.”

To further develop her talent, Duckler will live the life of a professional performer, spending her three weeks in St. Louis rehearsing, attending master classes and, of course, performing.

“The first 10 days, we spend over 80 hours rehearsing with the Broadway/equity actors for Hairspray. This kind of theater puts on Broadway musicals in less than two weeks,” Duckler said. “After rehearsals we have workshops or go see plays, which is super cool. Then, the last week, we have full days of master classes in singing, acting and dancing and perform Hairspray every night in front of 10,000 people.”

Duckler, who will perform in the Hairspray ensemble, looks forward to experiencing the high-pressure setting of a professional production in order to get a taste of the life she hopes to lead in the future.

“Ultimately, I would love to be a professional working actor either in Chicago or New York City,” Duckler said. “This program will help me network with professionals and help me prepare for college auditions and my future as a performer.”

Although unfazed by the 10,000-person audience, Duckler admits to feeling nervous about entering the true world of a professional performer, where standards are high. Nevertheless, Duckler remains excited, realizing this opportunity will bring her closer to her ultimate goal.

“I really hope to be able to talk to the actors and learn about how they achieved success in the business, and also I’m looking forward to strengthening my craft and learning from the Webster staff and my peers in the program,” Duckler said.

“I am so excited to be immersed in what I love with people who share my passion.”

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