Kevin Ray Johnson
I would like you to meet Katlyn Carlson. Katlyn is currently making her Broadway debut in the Joe Iconis hit Be More Chill where she is playing the role of Chloe Valentine, a role she played both in the recent Off-Broadway run and with The Two River Theater. She has also performed Off-Broadway in The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin, and in the First National Tour of Dirty Dancing. It was such a privilege to have the chance to interview this very talented University of Chicago alum!
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a performer?
I was always a performative young child. I had a whole act I would do after dinner for my family, consisting of animal impressions and reenacting Saturday Night Live sketches- my favorite was Eddie Murphy as James Brown in James Brown's Hot Tub Party. I loved singing in choir and the school musicals and was a serious cellist for many, many years. But what really solidified the acting bug was watching my big brother play Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors when I was in 8th grade. He made his first entrance, did a big pratfall, got a huge laugh, and I just thought, "I. Have. To. Do. That."
Where did you study? Are there any mentors that genuinely helped make you the performer you are today?
I did not go the conservatory route. I went to the University of Chicago, majoring in English, but acting in a show every semester. I started doing professional theatre in Chicago my last year of school, and prior to that I did shows with the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis (my hometown). The artistic director of that Festival was the first theatre professional to really make me believe I might be good at this- he took me seriously as an artist and gave me my first professional experience, which changed my life. I got to work with full-time actors and learn about work ethic and creating characters. I feel like I learned on the job for the first several years of my career.
Congratulations on making your Broadway debut in Be More Chill! What has been the most exciting thing about this process and do you have any favorite moments in the show?
Thank you! This is such a huge professional goal. I always wanted to be on Broadway but having spent the last several years in the TV/film world, I figured it would take longer to get here. I'm beyond grateful. The most exciting thing so far has been feeling my parents' excitement. They've always been the most supportive people on the face of the earth, and I'm so happy this makes them so happy! I'm proud to say I'm the first person from Eureka, MO to be on Broadway!
As far as favorite moments in the show- gosh, so many. I love punting Christine's backpack across the stage. I love the new song Sync Up, its driving rhythm, how it sounds so different than anything else on Broadway, how it gives us a glimpse of each character's internal life. I love the entire Do You Wanna Hang sequence- doing the slip n' slide jump onto the bed, falling all over myself, the drunk whispers and wild mood swings. I love love love physical comedy. My favorite thing is to make people laugh, and I'm thrilled I get to do that eight times a week, as my job!
Are there any shows (Prior to Be More Chill) that you have done in your career that will always be near and dear to your heart?
I played Ado Annie in a very cool production of Oklahoma! at the now-defunct American Theatre Company in Chicago. We had a six-piece bluegrass band that was absolutely gorgeous, and we grounded the story in a gritty, compelling way. I also had a theatre company of my own in Chicago for a time, The Broken Compass. We did a show called Mercury Fur by Philip Ridley, one of my favorite plays of all time. I played a brain-damaged 40-something mother of two who believed she was a Duchess and had to slip from RP dialect to cockney while delivering monologues that were both harrowing and hilarious. It was a real trip. Also, my husband Ryan Farrell is an actor as well as my writing partner. We wrote a sketch show together, starring ourselves, called 'Til Death Do Us Fart, which was as ridiculous as it sounds. Dark, twisted, wild. Among other characters, I played grown-up Kevin McCallister from Home Alone, a white trash mermaid, and the oldest woman in the world, Sugar. Performing that crazy material with my husband at UCB was a weird, wonderful highlight of my acting career.
What advice would you give young performers who want a career in this business?
Be nice to everyone. Support your peers. Find people with whom to collaborate. Make your own projects. Write if you can. Study comedy. Learn to improvise. Take voice lessons. Ingest all kinds of art and culture. Read. Read fiction (not just plays!). Intelligence is an asset. Stretch. Get enough sleep. Drink water. Call your parents (or whomever your support system is- they will give you strength!!). There will be more rejection than bookings. Don't take it personally. Just keep going!
Be More Chill is definitely one you don’t want to miss! To learn more about the show please visit – www.bemorechillmusical.com