Meet the Cast & Crew: Samantha Sostarich
This South Milwaukee actress has a variety of looks. She has long, blond, curly tresses, but she can pull her hair back for an elegant appearance. A soprano who can belt out a song, she has performed for several opera companies, including Milwaukee’s Skylight Opera. She has performed in productions ranging from “My Fair Lady” to “Little Shop of Horrors,” from “The Producers” to “Pirates of Penzance.” She has a BA with distinction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in theater and drama. Here are some questions we put to her:
- Q: How long have you been acting?
- Since high school, but I’ve been dancing since I was 4.
- Q: What initially attracted you to Kohl’s Wild Theater at the Milwaukee County Zoo?
- I’m a big fan of the Zoo. My family always had the Zoo Pass membership. I’m also familiar with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s (ZSM’s) fun education programs. I went to Rawson Elementary School [on Milwaukee’s south side]. The school emphasized conservation, we had school assembly programs by the ZSM, we had field trips to the Zoo, and I was part of the ZSM’s animal-quilt project [where students paired with seniors to produce quilts for the Zoo]. The Zoological Society understands that children learn differently. Some are kinetic learners. Some need to hear the information, especially through music. Some need visual learning. Kohl’s Wild Theater mixes all of these to get across a conservation message.
- Q: All the plays at the Zoo are about animals and conservation. Do you have a special interest in either of these?
- Conservation is very dear to me. Each year Rawson School would sponsor so many acres of a rain forest. It was drilled into us—conservation and recycling. We were one of the schools that switched over from milk cartons to bags of milk, to reduce the amount of garbage. To this day, I contribute to wildlife funds.
- Q: What types of plays do you prefer, and do you have a dream role you’d like to play?
- I prefer comedies. I’d love to do ‘She Loves Me,’ ‘Into the Woods,’ and the Lady of the Lake in ‘Spamalot.’
- Q: What do you think will be different about performing at the Zoo versus performing at an indoor theater?
- Well, given that we’re performing during a Wisconsin summer, you’re going to get lots of good energy from everyone being outdoors and at the Zoo.
- Q: What do you think will be most challenging working outdoors at the Zoo?
- The weather. I haven’t been part of an outdoor theater before. Each actor will do three to four performances on the main stage in the Zoo’s farm every day plus one pathway skit in the Zoo plus time spent doing impromptu performances at animal exhibits. It can be challenging, but we’re all professionals. As an actor you’re trained to protect your instrument, your voice. We keep hydrated, we don’t over-exert the vocal cords and we warm up beforehand. I do both vocal warm-ups and I do stretching and yoga.
- Q: What do you like about acting?
- I like the entire mix of singing, acting and dancing.
- Q: You seem to be a triple threat as an actress, dancer and singer. How has dancing been a help in your acting career?
- While there won’t be much dancing in the first season of Kohl’s Wild Theater, dancing helps me warm up. Early on, dancing drove me to performing. I wanted to be a tap dancer at first, but then I realized I was better at ballet. Pointe work became my passion. Then I moved into the ‘beautiful ballerina’ phase that attracts young girls. Tap dancing, however, is really great experience for a musical-theater background.
- Q: You’ve had quite a variety of acting experience, including video-game voice acting for a Madison company. Your acting is very energetic and you seem quite versatile. What are some of your special skills, those extra attributes that actors put at the bottom of their resumes?
- Dialects ranging from Russian to ‘Brooklyn.’ Cartwheels, splits and costume-craft construction.
- Q: What is your most memorable moment as an actress?
- In fall 2010 I performed ‘Dames at Sea’ with Milwaukee Skylight Opera. I was the sidekick, Joan. I climbed to the top of a ladder on wheels and belted out my notes. It was exhilarating.
Interview by Paula Brookmire