Lucas Ross comes into living rooms across the state as a member of Freedom 43’s Rise and Shine show. Kerri Brackin has performed on Broadway and around the world in national and international tours of Broadway productions. Both are slated to perform at The Sooner Theatre this month in Seussical The Musical. I recently sat down with them to get to know them better.
When/where did you start performing?
LUCAS: While my hometown of Minco, Oklahoma, didn't have a theatre program, I found a way to perform between talent shows under Friday night lights as the Minco Bulldog Mascot. It was tough getting comedy to translate through 6" of fake dog fur. By the time I could drive, I traveled up to OKC, performing at Jewel Box Theatre under the direction of Chuck Tweed. He cast me as the comic relief (Hugo Peabody in Bye Bye Birdie)—and it stuck!
KERRI: I started performing before I started walking and talking! I think my mother put me in dance class before I was 2 and I think I sang my first solo, as a little clown to a song called “How Would You Like to Be...," when I was 3. I loved it all from the very beginning and, for me, there was and is something just so joyful and life-giving about performing. I love seeing audience members walk out smiling after a show. You feel like you brightened someone’s day, and that is a great feeling. My first professional performance was at Lyric Theatre in OKC...in Annie, of course!
What has been your favorite role or show to perform?
LUCAS: My first show with Sooner Theatre was the Steve Martin role in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I have been so inspired by Martin’s comedy and music over the years; this was a true honor and so much fun with the great Don Taylor! Adult Ralphie in the Sooner’s A Christmas Story is a close second!
KERRI: My favorite show to perform was Hairspray. I am so very grateful to have gotten the opportunity to perform in the national and international tours of that beautiful show. Hairspray was my first big job after moving to The Big Apple after college. Penny Pingleton has to be one of my favorite roles ever!
What does someone who would like to pursue a career in theatre need to do to prepare?
LUCAS: Love performing above all. That motivates you to study. Whether this is studying by watching others perform, taking classes or simply being active in any of the many roles of the stage, knowing what goes on behind the scenes, prepping a show, all the not-so-glorious aspects of clean-up, are so important. Unmotivated kindness goes a long way, too. Also, to quote Steve Martin, “Be so good they can’t ignore you!”
KERRI: In my opinion, someone looking to pursue a career in theatre needs to, first, REALLY want it! It's a hard but rewarding industry. You must have a thick skin...there is lots of rejection and you have to remember...it’s not because you are not talented or wonderful; you just aren't what the folks behind the table need in that moment on that day for that show! Keep on keeping on! Be diligent and work hard, but something else I find important is to have a life outside of theatre and outside of showbiz. You will go nuts if you don't. I think that experience in other areas of life makes you a better performer, too.
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
LUCAS: Watching The Muppet Christmas Carol and eating some of my mom's amazing cranberry bread!
KERRI: My favorite holiday tradition, currently, is the annual “Christmas lights car tour plus peppermint milkshakes” with my spectacularly fun and fabulous Aunt Jenn, Uncle Lewis and Great-Grandma Honey. We play holiday tunes while driving around, and we just have a blast! Favorite holiday tradition from years past would be putting up Christmas decorations with my mom. Our ornaments and decorations pretty much all had meaning and history, purchased on trips or passed down through generations, and we had such good times getting the boxes out every year and reminiscing about our holiday trinkets. It was so simple, but so special. My mom had a way of making everything magical.
How many times have you been on The Sooner Theatre stage and what pulls you back for more?
LUCAS: This will be the fourth time I have been invited to be part of a Sooner Theatre show. Other than Jennifer Baker physically pulling me back, I enjoy the community this theatre has created. It’s a legendary building with an amazing history, but the wonderful people who continue to tell stories are what make a theatre succeed. Sooner Theatre accomplishes that and more with their mission to educate as well as entertain. It’s life-changing for those who are on stage as well as the ones lucky enough to be in the seats watching the curtain go up!
KERRI: I've been lucky enough to have been on The Sooner Theatre stage at least five times. I was in one of the very first Sooner Stage performances...Oklahoma! (in concert), and I’ve also done a couple NYE performances and most recently, was in Sister Act. I loved being in that show with that group of lovely people! I'm so excited to get to be a part of Seussical. I just can’t wait!
Check out Lucas as The Cat in The Hat and Kerri as Gertrude McFuzz in the family-friendly romp through the works of Dr. Seuss that is Seussical The Musical, Dec. 8-10 and 15-17 at The Sooner Theatre, 101 E. Main St. in Norman. Tickets on sale now at SoonerTheatre.org or by calling 405.321.9600.
Nancy Coggins is the PR and development director for the Sooner Theatre of Norman Inc.