Kimbre Lancaster didnt grow up in Idaho, yet she feels at home here. Its where she discovered her path to an acting career that, so far, is going exceedingly well.
You can see Lancaster in her Idaho Shakespeare Festival debut in Oded Gross and director Tracy Youngs musical adaptation of Molieres The Imaginary Invalid, which opens this weekend. Youll see her later in the season as Perdita in The Winters Tale.
If I hadnt gone to the University of Idaho, I dont think I would have ended up in theater, she says.
Lancaster grew up in Kennewick, Wash., but spent lots of time in southeastern Idaho visiting family, many of whom will trek to Boise to see her perform. She started at the U of I as a business major on full scholarship, but that changed when she started doing some theater on the side and her theater professors took notice.
David Lee-Painter and physical theater artist Paul Kalina, at the time a graduate student who now is associate professor at the University of Iowa, pulled her aside to suggest she pursue acting.
They were the first people in my life who made me believe that this could be a career choice for me. Everyone else thought it was a wonderful hobby, but they always wanted to know what my real job was going to be, she says.
Lancaster switched majors and graduated. In 2010, she received the Rex Rabold Fellowship at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which is given each year to a U of I grad.
OSF in Ashland, Ore., is like the mothership of American Shakespeare festivals with year-round productions in multiple theaters.
It was a huge opportunity and amazing experience, she says.
Thats where she met Young, who saw her in a production of Twelfth Night.
I was a lady in waiting and didnt speak for the entire show, Lancaster says.
Something about her silent performance struck Young, whose technique is grounded in the physical mask work of commedia dellarte.
Tracy was really influential in my second season, Lancaster says. She advocated and fought for me, and I was given a much bigger opportunity in my second season that I would have had otherwise.
When there werent any roles for Lancaster at OSF this summer, Young helped bring her to Idaho with her Invalid, which originated at OSF.
Lancaster will reprise her role as Angelique, the daughter of Argan (Tom Ford), a wealthy hypochondriac who wants his daughter to marry Thomas (Ian Gould), a budding young doctor to help keep Daddys medical bills down. (How timely is that?)
Angelique is in love with Cleante (Juan Rivera Lebron), a florist.
Seventeenth century French playwright Moliere traveled to Italy to learn the art of commedia dellarte and combined it with his witty, satirical writing style. His plays such as Invalid and Scapin lend themselves to very broad treatment and performance.
This play is very freely adapted. In fact, Young, Gross and composer and sound designer Paul James Prendergast infused it with original music, with dance numbers by Ken Roht.
So its just this side of a musical, done in Youngs wacky commedia style. Youll remember that from her rollicking The Taming of the Shrew set in 1980s Los Angeles.
Expect the same level of energy of actors flying through the air and door-slamming, zany comedy.
Lancaster moved from Ashland to New York City recently to embark on a new stage of her career. For this summer, she is excited about performing in a place she considers home, she says.
When I got here and stepped outside, I took the first full deep breath Ive taken in a long time, Lancaster says. Its nice to be here where you can find quiet, you can see the sky and get into nature and everyone is nice. Its been great to relax and focus on the work and remember where I came from.