The way she easily takes on a British accent, Mollie Vogt-Welch figures there must be some English aristocrats in her family tree.
“If you look at my resume you’ll see I’m in a lot of period pieces doing characters with British accents,” said Vogt-Welch, who is playing Lily in the Capital Repertory Theatre production of “The Secret Garden,” beginning with previews on Friday before opening Tuesday night for a month-long run. “I’ve played Wendy in ‘Peter Pan,’ Guenevere in ‘Camelot.’ It seems like I’m always doing British characters.”
In “The Secret Garden,” Vogt-Welch plays Lily Craven, the dead wife who haunts Archibald Craven in his North Yorkshire home in 1906 London. Lily is one of the many ghosts in the play, which is based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
The story was adapted into a stage musical in 1991 by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon, and won three of the six Tony Award nominations it received. Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill is directing the Capital Rep production, which also stars Brittany Ross, Cole Burden, Fred Rose, Leenya Rideout and Kevin McGuire.
Vogt-Welch, a Potsdam native, is a 2005 graduate of Penn State University, where she majored in musical theater. “The Secret Garden,” she says, is one of her favorite musicals
‘The Secret Garden’
WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 North Pearl, Albany
WHEN: Previews begin Friday, show opens Tuesday and runs through Dec. 21; shows at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $60-$20
MORE INFO: 445-7469, capitalrep.org
“I saw it on Broadway way back in 1992 as a real young girl, and the woman playing my character was Rebecca Luker, who I thought really stood out in the show,” she said. “She was wonderful, and so it’s a role I’ve always wanted to do.”
In fact, Vogt-Welch wanted to do it so badly she postponed her honeymoon.
“I had done one audition with Maggie, and she called me back and asked me if I could come in on a Monday and sing for the musical director,” she remembered.
“I told her how I was supposed to be going on my honeymoon, and she said, ‘OK, go do what you need to do.’ But I really wanted to do it so I told her, ‘let me see if I can switch things around a little bit.’ ”
With the blessing of her new husband, Vogt-Welch came back to Albany and secured her role in “The Secret Garden.” While she grew up in Potsdam, she remembers coming to the Albany area on only two occasions.
“We went on a class trip to the Capitol, and, I was talking to my sister about the show and she remembered going to Cap Rep before,” she said. “We had seen ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ here in 1997, but other than that we kind of stayed up in the Adirondacks.”
Vogt-Welch said her mother and her aunt both possessed great singing voices, although singing didn’t become a high priority for her until college. While she did perform as a young girl with Music Theatre North, a professional theater company in Potsdam, much of her childhood was spent concentrating on the piano.
“I did three shows with Music Theatre North before they closed in the 1990s,” she remembered. “But I really wasn’t much of a singer until college. It was my aunt, a voice teacher at Penn State, who told me to audition for the musical theater program there, and she was the one who became my voice coach, and still is.”
After graduating from Penn State, Vogt-Welch moved to New York City. She quickly landed a great job as Guenevere in the national touring production of “Camelot,” and when that was completed she played Wendy in a national touring production of “Peter Pan.”
“Like every actor, I had some different jobs between gigs,” she said. “But I did get very lucky to land the ‘Camelot’ job for a year and then come back pretty quickly and get ‘Peter Pan.’ I’ve had two great tours so I’m very happy about that.”
While she could play the piano, Vogt-Welch is one of the few actors in “The Secret Garden” who does not play an instrument on stage. The show is being done actor/muso style, which means the characters on stage provide their own musical accompaniment.
“We started casting this show in July, and we’ve assembled an exquisite cast of wonderful singers and brilliant musicians/actors, seasoned veterans all around,” said Mancinelli-Cahill. “We’ve had a lot of talented musicians on stage at the Rep, but the skill levels here are off the chart.”
Freddy Ramirez is doing the choreography for the show, and Josh Smith is the music director.
“Anyone who’s followed my work here at the Rep knows I love stories about transformation and redemption,” said Mancinelli-Cahill.
“This is that story, and it’s a classic to boot. To hear this tale — so beautiful, so enchanting — turned into song is just mesmerizing. The holidays help us see the best of ourselves, and so does ‘The Secret Garden.’ I get chills just thinking about it.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]