CoMo Theatre: “Putnam County Spelling Bee” Actor Profile

One of the things that makes Columbia, Missouri such a dynamic city is that many people here come and go; having three four five colleges will do that to a city. One such actor who was active in the community theatre scene years ago and has now returned is Kelley Rohlfing Marchbanks.

Who are you?

I’m Kelley Rohlfing Marchbanks. I  grew up on a family farm in Howard County and commuted with my parents to Columbia since the 4th grade.  I now live in Fayette with my husband and five-year-old daughter.

I work for the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, raising funds for the College.  I am very involved with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Network, and many other organizations within our community.  However, as I became more involved with work, volunteerism, and the family, theater has had to take a back seat. Now that my daughter is older and beginning to develop her own love of theater, it was a great time to tackle a Columbia Entertainment Company (CEC) performance again.

What originally got you involved in theatre?

I have loved theater from as early as I can remember.  My first show was Li’l Abner with Fayette Area Community Theater (FACT) and that began my true love of performing.  I was lucky to be able to attend Rock Bridge High School where I was given the opportunity to be a part of some amazing productions.  Following high school, I faced the decision most every artist faces – follow my love of my art or find a way to fit it into a more practical life.  I chose the latter.  I went to Mizzou and studied Agriculture Education.  During that time, I competed in the Miss America System, giving me many new venues to perform.

What got you involved in theater in Columbia? What makes theatre in Columbia unique?

12 years ago, I met my husband on the CEC stage in The Sound of Music.  He was cast Rolf and I was Liesl.  We both love theater but with a family, it is difficult for both of us to be in a show at the same time.  We have done a few shows with FACT and I auditioned for several shows at CEC before being cast in CEC’s current production of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

The amazing thing about CEC is the quality of actors it attracts and this show is further proof of that.  In my experience, community theater pulls all levels of talent and experience which can be really fun.  Anyone, from those with the itch to entertain to those desiring more of the high that only comes from being on stage, has a place.  However, this show (as is the case with many of the CEC shows) is as close as you’ll get to professional theater without actually paying the cast and crew!

Describe the time and effort you’ve put into this show.

Being in a community theater production takes a great deal of commitment in both time and energy but it is one of the most rewarding experiences to be had.  It has been hard being away from my family at least 4 nights per week but those who “get it” know there is nothing in the world that compares.  The relationships you build with fellow actors, seeing a show start from nothing and become a completely unique world, and the high that comes from moving the audience is what bring us all back to the stage again and again.  As my daughter gets involved in her own activities, I might be pulled away again but I will always come back and, if I’m lucky, she will have the theater bug too and the entire Marchbanks/Rohlfing family will be back on stage again!

Why this production?

The entire production is made up of the most talented cast and crew I have ever worked with.  From absolutely incredible musical talent to keen improvisational skills, this cast is sure to impress. I have seen this show several times, absolutely love it and was thrilled to be cast as Rona Lisa Perretti, the official host of the Spelling Bee.  This show is filled with great music, a diverse cast of characters and opportunities for the actors to interact with the audience.  Four audience members become integral parts of the Bee and the actors bring the show out into the audience.  The show is designed in such a way that much of it can be tailored to the audience and community to which it is presented and that makes it a show you can see over and over again.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee opens tonight and runs for the next three weekends (June 9-12, 16-19, 23-26). Curtain is at 7:30pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a 2:00pm matinée on Sundays. Tickets are $12 for adults and $11 for students and $10 for seniors and children. Reservations are encouraged, 573-474-3699.

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