Marisa S. Hickey is the music teacher at Lycoming Valley Middle School. She lives in Williamsport with her husband, Robert, and daughter Kirsten. She met Robert while they were both studying music education at Penn State University. They are both actively involved in community performances, musically and theatrically. Robert Hickey will be profiled in an upcoming Performer Profile.
KRISTA STORM: When and how did your interest in the performing arts begin?
MARISA HICKEY: I've been singing as long as I can remember. My father was a singer when he was younger, so I guess I got it from him. I have been involved in performing groups since I was in elementary school.
KS: Why did you start performing?
MH: It was something I was always interested in. As a kid, I was always the one trying to organize impromptu talent shows and plays. Some kids are into sports, others video games. My thing has always been singing and acting.
KS: What do you like about performing and-or directing?
MH: My favorite thing about performing is the connection. When you walk onto the stage, you are giving so much of yourself to the audience. Even if you are portraying someone else, there's still that element of communication.
The thing I love about directing is the challenge of taking a script and watching it evolve into a performance. It's always cool to sit in your first production meeting with a vision, and then you receive input from everyone else involved, and suddenly your vision morphs into something more clear. Add in the actors (and lots of rehearsal) and that visual is a show. It's really cool - lots of work, but cool!
KS: What do you dislike about performing?
MH: Finding a costume. And the auditions - those are still nerve-wracking for me.
KS: What play have you always wanted to direct? If you could play any role, with no limitations, who would you like to perform?
MH: Well, "West Side Story" has been my favorite musical since I was a teenager, so I really am excited about music directing that this summer. If I could play any role, with no limitations - wow, there are a lot! I would really like to sing a soprano role again. I've been singing roles that are more in the alto range - mostly because of the characters, but I am actually a soprano, and even though usually the altos get the fun roles, I'd be happy to get back to singing in my upper register. The character I would most love to play is Diana in "Next to Normal." There is so much about that role that really touches me, and I'd love to share that with others.
KS: Do you have a favorite playwright?
MH: I'm not really picky when it comes to the writers of shows, but as a director I really like it when the playwright creates a show that is easily staged. For example, no ridiculous costume or set changes in a short amount of time.
KS: What show-director do you love? Why?
MH: The number of shows I love is too long to sift through, and I love each for different reasons. I've been very fortunate to work with two directors at the Community Theatre League, and I love working with both of them. Jacquie Engel and Jason Moyer are very different in directing styles, but they both bring such a level of professionalism and creativity to theatre.
KS: What is the best production-theater experience you have had?
MH: I'd have to say that was a show I directed at Curtin Middle School. My co-director (Stefanie Welty) and I had this crazy idea to do "Seussical" with middle schoolers. It's almost all music, and there's a ton of dance required. We convinced the wonderful Tess Bower-Gist to choreograph it for us. In theory, it should have been a mess. There was so much dance, and so much singing, and costumes were ridiculously flamboyant. These students worked so hard because they wanted to do their best. On opening night, the applause at the end of of the opening number seemed to last forever. The look on those kids' faces was priceless. That was my favorite theatre moment.
KS: What do you like about performing here in Williamsport ?
MH: I love that we have an amazing facility with wonderful people right here -there's no need to travel for hours! And the set up of it is great because the audience is right there - literally inches away at times. As a performer, you get this connection with the audience that can't be beat.
KS: What is your favorite role that you have performed? What is your favorite play that you have directed? Would you attempt it again? How would you do it differently?
MH: The role that I had the most fun playing was definitely Angela in "The Honky Tonk Angels." She is funny and quirky and had great songs. I'd play her again in a heartbeat. My favorite show that I directed was "Thoroughly Modern Millie." The amount of dance made it such a challenge, but it was so much fun. I'm not sure if I would attempt that one again!
KS: What role-play would you like to do next?
MH: I'd be happy playing any new role, but I'd especially like one that has a lot of humor in it. These days everyone needs a little laughter!
KS: If you could work with anyone, living or dead, famous or not, with whom would you like to work?
MH: My friends and family. Doing a show with those you love beats anything else! I've been fortunate with my closest friends, including my husband, in the recent past. If I could work them all at once on the same show - and maybe add my daughter, Kirsten, into the mix - that would rock!
KS: Who would play you on stage or in film? What kind of production would it be?
MH: Well, it had better be a musical, and I would hope that the actress has a big heart, lots of attitude, a dash of sarcasm and a heap of humor!