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'Music Man' actress lands coveted role as Marian

Chrissy Kelly-Pettit plays the librarian in Broadway Rose's new show


Most people take a trip to Disneyland or Disney World, and all they leave with are fond memories.

Chrissy Kelly-Pettit, who plays Marian the librarian in the upcoming Broadway Rose Theatre Company’s “The Music Man,” left with a lot more than memories after working at Disney World during college: She met her husband there and also picked up job skills that proved useful later in her life.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: CHRIS RYAN - Chrissy Kelly-Pettit plays Marian (the librarian) Paroo and big sister to Winthrop Paroo, played by Josiah Bartell in The Music Man.

Kelly-Pettit grew up on the East Coast and likely would have remained there if she hadn’t met a man from Oregon. Born in Connecticut, she moved with her family to Idaho before returning at age 6 to settle permanently in Saratoga Springs, which is in Upstate New York.

“I saw ‘The Sound of Music’ when I was 7,” Kelly-Pettit said. “That was my first musical, and I wanted to be Liesl. That’s what got me excited about musical theater.

“I appeared in my first show at 8 or 9 and have known since I was 11 that I wanted theater to be my profession.”

Kelly-Pettit took voice lessons in high school and in her senior year participated in an internship at the New York State Theatre Institute, which is an Equity theater.

“I loaded up on credits my junior year so all I had left going into my senior year was PE and government,” she said. “At NYSTI, my PE credit was covered with everything from yoga to circus skills, and our education supervisor taught about government, including how to write our representatives for support for the arts. They offered internships in various areas, and I was stage manager for a production of ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales,’ studied marketing, lighting and arts education, and also performed in a musical production of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ It was a great opportunity to be with other kids passionate about theater and to work with seasoned professionals.”

Next, Kelly-Pettit was off to State University New York at New Paltz, “which was not necessarily a school focused on musical theater,” she said. “But I was given a great foundation in acting technique and supplemented that work with voice and dance lessons.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in theater arts and spent one semester abroad at Middlesex University of London and another one as an intern at Disney World, where she met another intern, Jake Pettit. She also picked up some credits at Disney University, which offers college courses.

Kelly-Pettit graduated before Jake and moved to Eugene where he finished his degree at the University of Oregon before they moved to the Portland area in 2005.

'Like a family'

Before she started working in the theater full time, she had various jobs, including manning the front desk at a dental office, serving as the flight coordinator for a private jet company, and working in sales and administration for a high-tech company. While those jobs sound very different, Kelly-Pettit said they actually were similar in many ways and her theater and Disney World training served her well in the real world.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: CHRIS RYAN - Marian Paroo (Chrissy Kelly-Pettit), Winthrop Paroo (Josiah Bartell) and Harold Hill (Joe Theissen) offer a glimpse of what life was like in River City, Iowa, in 1912, which is the setting of  The Music Man.Kelly-Pettit started getting theater jobs in Portland several years ago, and “The Music Man” marks her ninth show with Broadway Rose. She considers her first Broadway Rose show, “Sisters of Swing,” as her first big professional role on stage.

But other theater companies also have embraced her, and Kelly-Pettit has been nominated for several awards for her roles with Bag & Baggage, Stumptown Stages, Stage One Productions, Lakewood Theatre and others.

She also is a featured vocalist on several recordings, including the original cast recording of “Ripper,” produced by Broadway Rose/Nelson Productions, and “Recognition,” produced by Stage One Productions.

“Now I’m busy year-round,” Kelly-Pettit said. “I love singing more than I love anything else in the world. I am very comfortable in both musical and non-musical theater, but a role like Marian is where I feel most at home.

“Marian has a tough exterior but is vulnerable. The show has classically gorgeous soprano songs that you don’t usually find in most newer contemporary pieces. The songs are just beautifully written.”

When Kelly-Pettit learned late last summer that Broadway Rose would be producing “The Music Man,” she set her sights on the role of Marian. “I had to wait a long time to audition, and I only wanted this role,” she said, adding, “Broadway Rose is like a family, and I’m so happy to be working here again.”

And even though Kelly-Pettit has been performing in Portland for years now, she said she only knew four people in the cast going into rehearsals. “Everyone else is brand new to me,” she said. “Broadway Rose has done a great job of bringing in new faces with this cast. There are over 40 voices on stage, and the sound in amazing.”

Kelly-Pettit’s family comes to Portland about once a year to see her in a show, and her parents and grandmother are definitely coming to see “The Music Man.”

“My mom does musicals in Upstate New York, and when she knew I was playing Marian, she had her plane ticket,” Kelly-Pettit said. “They will be here for a weekend, and she will see every performance while she’s here.

“I’m blessed that theater is what I get to do. It is the best job anyone can possibly have. It’s creative, and you get to meet a new group of friends every six weeks.”

Catch the show

The Broadway Rose Theatre Company continues its 2014 season of Brass ‘n’ Sass with the iconic Broadway musical, “The Music Man,” playing at the Deb Fennell Auditorium.

Preview performance is today (Thursday) with opening night on Friday with performances continuing through July 20. Evening performances are Thursday through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; matinees are at 2 p.m. on Sundays, and the following Saturdays: July 5, 12 and 19.

Tickets start at $30 for adults, with discounts available for groups and youth. For a full listing of show performances or to order tickets, visit broadwayrose.org or call the box office at 503-620-5262.

The Deb Fennell Auditorium is at 9000 S.W. Durham Road in Tigard.

A sparkling homage to a bygone era, “The Music Man” follows fast-talking traveling salesman Harold Hill as he cons the people of River City, Iowa, into buying band instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band he vows to organize — despite the fact he doesn’t know a trombone from a treble clef. His plans are foiled when he falls for spirited Marian the librarian, who transforms him into a respectable citizen by curtain’s fall.

“The Music Man” is based on a story by Meredith Willson and Frank Lacey with book, music and lyrics by Meredith Willson.

Peggy Taphorn is directing and choreographing the Broadway Rose production, with musical direction by Alan D. Lytle. The creative team also includes lighting designer Gene Dent, sound designer Tim Richey, prop designer Deb Dahling and production stage manager Jessica Downs.

The cast includes Joe Theissen as Professor Harold Hill, Chrissy Kelly-Pettit as Marian Paroo, Norman Wilson as Marcellus Washburn, Thomas Prislac Jr. as Mayor Shinn, Rachelle Riehl as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, Annie Kaiser as Mrs. Paroo and Josiah Bartell as Winthrop Paroo.




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