Valdosta Daily Times

July 6, 2013

Actress shines in all three PSST! shows

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — She’s Maria in “The Sound of Music.” She’s the comical Suzy in “The Marvelous Wonderettes.” She’s Anne in “A Little Night Music.”

Seems there’s rarely a moment in Peach State Summer Theatre’s 2013 season when actress Rachel Day is not on the Sawyer Theatre stage. Three shows. Three principal roles. Three great performances.

As Maria, Day does the near-impossible trick of making audiences forget about Julie Andrews’ performance in the film classic of “The Sound of Music.” As Anne, she provides a comic twist to the too-young wife of middle-aged Fredrik in “A Little Night Music.” As Suzy, she is one of a strong ensemble of four powerful singers and comediennes in “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”

If you’ve seen all three PSST! shows, you likely have not only marveled at her abilities but wondered how Day keeps these three different roles straight?

“I was stunned and grateful to be cast in these three shows,” says Day. “... They are three distinct characters and the overall challenge has been making each character different.”

She has also faced the challenge of making her Maria not only different from Suzy and Anne, but different from Julie Andrews’ Maria.

“My first thought was I wasn’t going to try and be Julie Andrews as Maria,” Day says. “Trying to impersonate Julie Andrews wouldn’t be fair to the audience or to me as a performer. ... I probably bring less of the grace of Julie Andrews and more of the klutz to Maria.”

She may be referring to The Times review which noted, “Day’s Maria is whimsical and compassionate, simultaneously graceful and a klutz, charming and magnetic; her voice is strong, clear and versatile, beautiful and hypnotic.” Day is by no means clumsy; the “klutz” label refers to the grace of comic timing, the high-wire slapstick control of appearing to lose one’s balance without ever missing a beat.

As Maria, Day performs another fine feat. She takes one of the most well-known Broadway musical numbers in “Do-Re-Mi,” a song which almost everyone in the audience could easily sing along, and makes it appear that it is being created by Maria spur of the moment.

That’s part of Rachel Day’s charm.

Day is 22 years old. Prior to arriving for the 2013 PSST! season, she graduated this spring from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., with a degree in theatre performance. There, she performed as Christine Daae in “The Phantom of the Opera,” the Witch in “Into the Woods,” Tiger Lily in “Peter Pan,” and Evelyn Nesbit in “Ragtime.”

Day grew up in Texas before her family moved to Richmond, Va. She is the oldest of three children and her family plans to spend next weekend in Valdosta to see the final performances of all three PSST! shows.

PSST! found Day during the Southeastern Theatre Conference auditions earlier this year.

Faith sustains Day. Her PSST! program profile references 2 Corinthians 2:16. The verse, according to the New International Version Bible, reads: “To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?”

Day says it is important in life to discover what God wants from a person and live that calling.

“The most important lesson I’ve learned is to find the will of God and just do it,” she says.

Following this PSST! season’s final curtain, Day plans to audition for Sight and Sound Theater, which offers biblical productions in Pennsylvania and in Branson.

Faith helped her prepare for these three roles within PSST!’s short period of rehearsal time. For example, she and her fellow cast arrived in mid-May and opened “The Sound of Music” two weeks later on June 1. While this show opened, the cast prepared for the opening of “The Marvelous Wonderettes” less than two weeks later on June 14 and the opening of “A Little Night Music” on June 21.

Since, PSST! has been presenting all three shows in rotating repertoire, and continues doing so until next weekend when the 2013 season comes to a close. On some dates, Day must be Maria in the afternoon and Anne the same night, or “The Marvelous Wonderettes’” Suzy, which she says is her favorite role.

“Suzy is the most fun,” Day says. “‘Marvelous Wonderettes’ is pure fun. There’s nothing more to it than two hours of entertainment and joy and it’s so funny and full of laughs. ... It’s not just a concert of the ’50s and ’60s songs, or a tribute or a revue. There’s a story to it. It has a heart.”