Transcribed by Yaffi , Edited by Sarah
Thank you, Katie Boeck, for chatting with me and Meg! Katie was a part of the new Broadway production of Spring Awakening, a show which takes the idea of communication to a whole new level. It features deaf actors who sign ASL, their speaking/singing counterparts, and some actors who do both. Katie, who is the voice of Wendla, also played guitar in the production. We talked about the Broadway award season, playing music and what she is going to do next.
Joy: I fell in love with Spring Awakening when I saw you and Sandra Mae Frank perform at Broadway in Bryant Park. What was that like for you?
Katie: I do remember that. That was the very first, like, terminal thing we did for the show. It was ages ago. Bryant Park was funny because it was like everyone with their Broadway tracks, and then it was just me with my guitar, and Sandy and me were like whoa, here we are. We are here on Broadway. Yes.
How do you think Spring Awakening has affected the Broadway community since it premiered?
I think it’s made people see that there are huge possibilities for people with disabilities, as we like to call them, DIF-abilities, in the theater and on Broadway. I am happy about the impact that it’s made. We opened a lot of eyes.
Did you know ASL before you started?
I only knew the alphabet because I had learned it in elementary school.
What was your first exposure to Broadway, and how old were you when you saw your first show?
I actually didn’t come to New York until I was in college. I was studying musical theater. I was a sophomore at UCLA, and I was like, I am going to feel really weird if I graduate with a musical theater degree having never seen a Broadway show. So I flew to New York during spring break and tried lots of student rush and lotteries I ended up winning the lottery for Hair. So I saw Hair, I saw The Little Mermaid, I saw August Osage County, and I saw Rock of Ages. I remember rushing to the stage at the end of Hair during “Let the Sun Shine In” and dancing with the cast and being like, man I want to be up here for real some day.
Award season is coming up, and so far Spring Awakening has received a lot of nominations. What are your thoughts on the Tonys and what do you think about all the attention your show has gotten since it closed?
I mean, it’s really cool to see the show being recognized. I think the star of the show is the show. The idea of doing Spring Awakening with Deaf Actors, and transferring the themes of the show to the themes of struggle within the Deaf Community. It’s brilliant. We’re lucky to have been nominated considering we were such a short limited run. But I think that goes to show how powerful of an impact we had.
Is it true you were discovered on YouTube?
It’s true. Yes. That’s a true story.
So how did they contact you? Did they message you on YouTube?
Michael messaged me on Twitter. I remember I was waiting tables in LA, playing music with my band and like, you know, doing the LA hustle, and I got a message from Michael. I knew of Michael Arden because I have a friend from high school who is obsessed with him and she had sent me all of his videos and I loved his style, his honesty. I related to it. And anyway he messaged me on Twitter and was like hey, I am doing Spring Awakening with Deaf West. We really are interested in having singer/songwriters play the voices. This was a year before we even started rehearsals. So I think I was the first person actually cast. I think Andy had seen a cover of a song I did, of a Joni Mitchell song called “A Case Of You”, and had the idea of using a female singer and guitar player to play and sing all the Wendla parts.I don’t’ even think they knew I had studied theater or had any theatrical experience at all.
That’s very cool.
Yes, I know. Twitter isn’t my preferred form of communication with the world necessarily but I did get this opportunity from Twitter. Which is good because I’m a terrible auditioner. So you know, it kind of taught me that having a social media presence is important because of how easy it is to share content and you just never know who will see you out there.
It is important to be present on Twitter and on social media.
I agree, as an artist, it is. I struggle with it sometimes because I’m a pretty earnest and sensitive person and I feel like my personality comes through better in person. I don’t have the most clever one liners or hilarious Gif’s but I try my best to spread love- you know what I mean? And any avenue that people can reach you and find you and who I can expose my art and music to is good.
Your cast is crazy good on social media. They all come together – Lauren Luiz, Kathryn Gallagher and Sean Grandillo, like two days ago they were taking over my feed, and I was like, okay guys.
Haha, yes, Spring Awakening fans are crazy amazing.
I didn’t know anything about the show until