Chat Room: Debra Lonsdale

Debra Lonsdale

Debra Lonsdale

Age: 42

Married to Larry Lonsdale

Two daughters: Megan,11, and Kara, 7

Executive producer and director for Southern Kids In Theatre Performing Arts School (SKIT) and Adult Community Theatre (ACT) in Maryville

Debra Lonsdale, her husband, Larry, and their family moved to Maryville when his job transferred him here. Three years ago she established Southern Kids in Theater as a professional theater for children. In December, she created ACT, the Adult Community Theater.

Debra said she realized some students would come in ready to perform or sing, but that others just needed an outlet.

“I wanted to bring something to Maryville that would help their self esteem. It’s great for people who love theater but also for folks who need help with public speaking and self esteem,” she said. “We can use everybody for whatever talent they have.”

Here is Debra Lonsdale:

• If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?

“Open my own theatre in the heart of Manhattan on Times Square.”

• What’s your favorite television or movie quote?

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow. ~Scarlet (Gone With The Wind).”

• What do you hate?

“Procrastination. I’m the kind of person that when I know when I’m trying to get something done, it has to be done. As you put things off, it makes things a lot harder.”

• What are you guilty of?

“Not getting enough sleep.”

• What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?

“I would love to take a trip to Italy with my family so they can visit and meet all my relatives.”

• What is your favorite material possession?

“My pictures and playbills from the past productions I performed in.”

• What are you currently reading?

“I just finished reading Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’ about 2 months ago. Whenever I am producing or directing a musical or play I always read all of the materials pertaining to the production. If I re-do the production, I read it again to refresh my memory and familiarize myself with the author and the story so I can portray his or her vision to the stage. Now it is off to Wonderland as I read the book ‘Alice In Wonderland’ for the next production.”

• With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?

“George Gershwin, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim. All three together would make a very interesting lunch conversation since they are so very unique in their own way.”

• Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?

“Pope John Paul ll. He was loved and respected by members and clergy of all religions. His message of peace and love reached all the nations of the world especially the youth. He truly was God’s messenger and a disciple of Jesus Christ here on Earth.”

• What was your most embarrassing moment?

“Losing my shoe in the street on my way to an audition. I ended up auditioning with only one shoe on but I got the part and didn’t even ‘break a leg.’”

• What is one word others often use to describe you and why?

“I asked my assistant Gayle Greene to answer this one for me and she replied; “Multi-talented-tasker.” Because I am an office manager, director, producer, music teacher, vocal instructor, performer, choreographer and a full-time mom home schooling two children while volunteering all my time to the school.”

• If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

“Not to give in so much, especially with the children. It is hard to say ‘No’ when they look at you with those big sad eyes.”

• What is your all-time favorite movie?

“ ‘Gone With The Wind.’ That was the very first movie my mom took me to, all six of us. At first I thought, ‘This isn’t a cartoon!’ but I was only 8, and I sat with my eyes wide open. It was so well done. I loved it. We thought we were going to be bored to death but all six of us just loved it.”

• Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

“Definitely half full, I’m always positive. If you’re positive, good things will come. If you have negative outlook, then negative things are going to come.”

• What was your first car?

“A 1977 Pontiac Trans Am. I paid $3,000 and when, I got the car, the guy said it doesn’t have a blower for the A.C., I never got it fixed. I kept the T-tops down. After a while I took a step up and went to the 280ZX. I guess I was prone to sports cars when I was young.”

• What’s your favorite all time song?

“’Over the Rainbow,’ from ‘The Wizard of Oz.’

• What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?

“Stay committed and finish what you start.”

• What is the best book you’ve ever read?

“ ‘Building a Character,’ by Konstantin Stanislavsky. His method has been used by many very famous actors and is a vital tool for me.”

• If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?

“I picked 1940s because I think that was a good year. On Broadway, I would’ve liked to have seen a lot of the musicals.”

• What is the best present you ever received in a box?

“In a small box I would have to say my engagement ring. But the one special memory I have as a child was the time my parents told all five of my siblings and me to stay inside and not to look out the window. Of course we all immediately ran to see what they had. I remember the cutest little black toy poodle peeking her head out of the box. We named her Gina.”

• Did you ever get paddled in school and if so, why?

“I remember once I was talking to my friend and, unfortunately for her, she got caught and I did not. I really felt bad about that so I told the teacher after the final bell rang. I still left without any bruises.”

• Who is your hero?

“My mentor and teacher, Jonalyn Hill Bew. She was my voice teacher. When I was really young, she was like a second mother. She put me on scholarships to get me through vocal training. She was so good to other people. She always gave to everybody.”

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