If you have ever been to the Children’s Theatre, you will surely recognize Autumn Ness and Reed Sigmund, both members of CTC’s acting company, most recently seen in Alice in Wonderland. But additionally, they have their own company—a marriage that also includes son, Sawyer, and a new member, born in July after this issue of Minnesota Parent went to press. —Kathleen Stoehr
Can you talk about the experience of performing for children, versus adults? The energy you receive from the audience has to be very different.
Autumn: The process of creating a show is the same, no matter what the age group. [But] the audience’s response to that work, when you have a house full of kids—that’s the different part! They are not satisfied to sit with their hands in their laps and let the story be given to them. They stand, they argue with you, they tell you what to do next, where to go, and occasionally try to get up on the stage!
I’m guessing you have some favorite memories in which kids in the audience have interrupted the show?
Autumn: I’ve had kids take me by the hand and start to tell the story the way they want it told. I’ve had them wander in behind me and take my props!
Reed: During How the Grinch Stole Christmas there was a young fellow who interrupted one of my mean and nasty “Grinchy” moments by shouting “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” as loudly and as slowly as humanly possible. It brought the show to a screeching halt but delighted the audience and managed to bring a big ol’ smile to this Grinch’s face.
I’d love to hear about some of your own first memories of the theater experience, and also a comment on how you feel about being an influence on the creative lives of children.
Reed: My first theatrical memory is of my mom taking me to see The Wizard of Oz in Fargo, where I grew up. Afterward, I got to meet the actors, which was so thrilling to me. It’s 30 years later and I still remember that moment. I always think of that when we greet our audience after a show. I really want to create wonderful memories for families and to have an influence on the kids who see us perform. I hope they feel inspired to play, imagine, write, and be themselves.
Autumn: All of my first theater memories are from the Children’s Theatre! My family came to see The Little Match Girl and that show has the tragic ending of the little girl freezing in the snow. I made my family wait until everyone was gone, because I was sure the girl would come back out if we just waited. I remember seeing A Midsummer Nights Dream at around nine-years-old and laughing my head off—Shakespeare at nine! I saw Cinderella, Dracula, all those shows made me turn to my parents and say, “I could do that!”