UI grad lands lead in Vegas production of MAMMA MIA! | Arts & Culture
From the University of Idaho:
The lights of New York City may be thousands of miles from the west coast, but they reflect brightly all the way to the University of Idaho thanks to Kimbre Lancaster, a 2008 theater arts alumna.
Lancaster, who now lives in NYC, recently won the role of “Sophie” in MAMA MIA!, the international hit musical based on the timeless songs of ABBA. The production opens at the New Tropicana Las Vegas, on May 8.
Though she’s always had a passion for performing, Lancaster was initially reluctant to pursue theater as a course of study, let alone consider it as a career. Growing up on a cattle farm in Kennewick, Wash., theater wasn’t considered practical. Lancaster sang in church, performed in high school plays and community theater and loved every minute of it. But when it came to college, she enrolled at the University of Idaho as a business major with a full-ride scholarship.
That didn’t stop her from auditioning for, and getting roles, in theater department productions. That’s when she caught the attention of theater arts faculty who saw her potential and subtly encouraged her to explore and develop her talent.
She ended up changing her major to theater arts and it paid off. While at UI, Lancaster distinguished herself as a national semi-finalist in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Scholarship competition, was the 2010 Oregon Shakespeare Festival Rex Rabold Fellow and graduated with a BFA in performance summa cum laude.
Lancaster credits UI participation in events like the KCACTF and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as having tremendous impact on where she is today. Both experiences offered her the opportunity to expand her network and build relationships that would help lay the foundation for future collaboration and work.
Lancaster worked for two years for Idaho Repertory Theatre before moving to Seattle, Wash. She was based in Seattle for less than a year before she was awarded the 2010 Rex Rabold Fellowship at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Each year, one UI graduate is selected by audition to perform with OSF. The fellowship recipient receives an acting stipend and housing for one year, and many, like Kimbre, are invited to return to the company for two or three years following their award.
“I have worked with people from all across the county, and I think the UI Theatre Arts program is unmatched at teaching you not only how to create a character, but how to support your fellow actors on stage by giving them what they need to tell the story as well,” Lancaster says.
Lancaster spent two successful seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, when she was snatched up by Harden Curtis and Associates, based in New York City.
“In the theatre world, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is highly regarded. It’s work that’s respected in New York, and that’s how I got my agents. I was very, very lucky,” she says.
MAMMA MIA! will perform in the newly transformed Tropicana Theater beginning May 8, Sunday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. There will be no show on Fridays. Tickets and hotel packages can be purchased at http://trop.lv/TLVMammaMia, by phone at 800-829-9034 or at the Tropicana Show Tickets desk.