Bianca Clark married her high school sweetheart Matt Kiefer. For those wondering why she didn’t take her husband’s last name, she has a reason for that.
“I like to joke with Matt that I’m not changing my last name because I’m afraid people will associate me with the Kiefers and think I can bowl,” Clark said.
Clark commands the stage instead of filling frames with strikes and chaining turkeys like the Kiefers – Kodiak’s bowling family that boasts over 30 perfect plays. Clark’s strong singing voice – the way she interprets the lyrics is a recognizable melody to Islanders – and her transformation into characters has been a staple of the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium for decades.
She’s set to add another character to her long list of roles when Kodiak Arts Council’s “The Little Mermaid” opens its five-show run at 7 p.m. Saturday. Clark stars as Ursula, the Wicked Witch in the play directed by longtime Kodiak director Lissa Woodbury Jensen.
Clark is anything but a villain in real life, which attracted her to the role.
“I don’t like to think of myself as a mean person — I hope other people don’t think I’m a mean person,” Clark said. “For me, it’s fun to play something a little out of character.”
Just being on stage is irrelevant to Clark, who is terrified of public speaking. Wait. If you’ve seen her perform – and who hasn’t? “Clark and anxiety don’t go together. What’s Clark’s secret sauce to conquering his fear and, in essence, performing a perfect piece?
“Before that, I just rehearse my memorization or talk to other cast members about things that distract us when we take breaks,” Clark said. “When I go out, that fear goes away and I do the performance. When I come backstage afterwards, I’m nervous.
Clark is human. Ask a baseball player if he was nervous during a crucial batting game or a bowler if his knees were shaking while watching a perfect game in the 10th frame. If they said they weren’t nervous, they would be lying.
“My fear is that people might say I’m nervous and I’m afraid to think about making a mistake, even though my parents always told me that the only person who really knows you made the mistake is It’s you because the public is there thinking about what a wonderful job you’re doing,” Clark said. “I’m really happy when afterwards nobody else seems to notice.
Clark is not alone. According to Woodbury Jensen, who had a 30-year career in theater before joining The Rock, it’s common for artists to be afraid to perform.
“When we disappear into character, it’s actually easier for us than just being ourselves, because if we fail on stage as ourselves, that’s a personal failure,” Woodbury said. jensen.
No one immerses themselves in a character better than Clark. Ask Woodbury Jensen, who first worked with Clark when he was 13. The director has watched Clark grow into a performer who wows audiences.
“What sets Bianca apart is her humility,” Woodbury Jensen said. “I say that as someone who’s done Broadway. Bianca could have any role on Broadway. She is so good.
Broadway was Bianca’s goal when she graduated from Kodiak High School in 2002. She attended performing arts school in Boston, but only for one year because tuition was unaffordable. It was heartbreaking at the time, but looking back, it was a blessing because it allowed her to start a family with Matt. The couple have five children aged 4 to 17.
“Kodiak offers something special about musical theater, and I’m happy to do it because it’s fun, not because I’m terrified of not getting a job or being turned down at auditions. “Clark said. “I’m glad I did what I did because it allowed me to have this family that I have, and I can still do performing arts for the people that I love.”
After an off-stage hiatus, Clark returned to acting – her second love behind family – when Woodbury Jensen directed “Les Miserables” in 2011. Clark hasn’t stopped since, racking up more than 10 plays (she didn’t know the exact number).
“She’s always the one helping the least important person in the cast, moving sets, cleaning up the green room,” Woodbury Jensen said. “If there was ever anyone who deserved to be or act like a diva, it’s Bianca, and she’s the exact opposite.”
Clark’s upbringing – from parties spent in Kodiak and Maine – fueled his passion for the performing arts. Family gatherings consisted of playing the guitar and singing. She recalls a childhood moment when she walked up the stairs of her family’s two-story house singing the song Tomorrow from “Annie” while her parents were as far away from the stars as they could get.
“They probably thought it was cool and now I think maybe I learned something there that I didn’t realize,” Clark said. “When asked, I can try to sing big and deep.”
Woodbury Jensen said Clark’s voice was worth the price of admission. However, Clark is just one of more than 100 people involved in “The Little Mermaid,” which runs until March 13.
“I think they (people) will be excited to see something that for some people will be very familiar. A lot of people know and love “The Little Mermaid,” Clark said. “They’ll be able to see it in a new way and with people they know who care about our community… You can just see your community members in a new way and appreciate all of their hidden talents.”
* Social distancing seating is available during the March 11 performance.