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Tammy Scileppi
Talks to
Katherine Tokarz
of Rock of Ages



 

Small Town Girl does Broadway… Still Dreaming Big and Partying On!

As friend and fan, I (Tammy Scileppi) have been following Katherine’s fast-track career for several years watching her perform in Wicked, Chorus Line (as Kristine) and White Christmas (as Rhoda)—and now she’s appearing in the cool rock musical Rock of Ages!


Katherine Performing with POISON at the Tony Awards

Rock of Ages: Remember the 80's? Half shirts, fringy jackets, mohawks and big hair with lots of mousse….How about ping pong…..and those “amazing” CD’s and VCR’s?...was “Hit me with your best shot” (by Pat Benatar), playing on your walkman? Flashback to 1987 …..good lookin’ boy with big dreams meets pretty girl with bigger dreams in the exciting rock musical Rock of Ages…told through the hit songs of iconic rockers like: Journey, Bon Jovi, Poison, Whitesnake, Pat Benatar, REO SPEEDWagon, STYX, Twisted Sister, Survivor, and others?

The Interview:

Tammy Scileppi: Please tell me about growing up in Dudley, Mass. and how you began your career?

Katherine Tokarz: Actually, there are no sidewalks in Dudley! it’s such a small town…people still leave their front doors unlocked….. And on Fourth of July, everybody visits their neighbors for barbecues.

I started dancing when I was 3; I was always dancing…Jo Ann Warren (Dance Studio) was instrumental in getting me to where I wanted to be professionally—for studying voice, it was Jane Shivick—both helped me be well-prepared for auditions. As I got older, I played some sports but continued with my passion, dancing. I looked up to a cousin who was a performer/dancer with Disney, in shows at its theme parks. So, there I was, auditioning for Disney Tokyo—and I got the gig and stayed in Japan for 8 months; I decided: I want to do this! Then I went on to spend a year performing with Disney Florida, then found myself in Germany to study in a voice program.

Tammy Scileppi: I know you traveled and performed in Europe before coming to NYC.....but how did you adjust to NYC lifestyle and tempo after growing up in a small town? What challenges did you overcome when you began your journey?

Katherine Tokarz: My first job was in Japan. That was only the second or third time I'd ever flown on a plane. I had never eaten sushi, or lived alone, or danced professionally. It was all very new and different. NYC is a different beast though. I thought because I had lived abroad, I had a leg up. It was still hard to essentially have two full-time jobs--the one that supported me financially (catering) and the one that brought me closer to my goals (auditioning and class). I think it's necessary to struggle…. It's sweeter in the end and nothing good comes easy…

Tammy Scileppi: You seem very focused and determined, yet quite modest about performing in several Broadway shows. How come you are so laid back about your awesome performance…in Rock of Ages?

Katherine Tokarz: I love what I do! But it’s not the be all and end all….it’s all about who you are inside….”

Tammy Scileppi: So, where do you see yourself 5, 10 years from now? Is settling down with kids and a “white picket fence” part of your future?

Katherine Tokarz: That is a great question. I would love to have babies and a family someday, for sure. For now, I think I should continue following my heart and staying challenged. Down the road I'd like to go back to school and combine the arts with doing something that helps people. I don't know exactly what that means right now, but that's what I would like…

Tammy Scileppi: Rock of Ages hit The Great White Way on April 7, 2009; can you give me some gossip about the after party? I heard that “rock royalty” attended…

Katherine Tokarz: Well…it was a hot party! It took place at the China Club: Wanna know who was there? Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Survivor’s Jim Peterik, Neal Schon of Journey, and many others. Really exciting!

Tammy Scileppi: What if one split second sent your life in two different directions….do you think that the end result would be the same? In the movie, Sliding Doors, the main character misses her train and in a parallel universe, just makes her train.....the events and choices she makes in her life, unfolding in different ways.....then conjoining..... result in the same ending. If for some reason, you had decided to take a different road from the one you chose, and had not pursued your passion, do you think that somehow you would still find yourself in the same place today?

Katherine Tokarz: I don't really believe in hindsight or regretting anything if I've enjoyed how I've spent my time. I think everything happens for a reason and I appreciate the "downs" just as much as the "ups"….I believe I am right where I should be.

Tammy Scileppi: If you could twitch your nose or wave a magic wand--just for fun--which of the roles you played would you like to become for a day?

Katherine Tokarz: I would love to live in the 1940s for a day (like Rhoda)…. when White Christmas took place. Hear how they talk, see how they dress, and get a taste of what it was like back then. That would be interesting.

Tammy Scileppi: What lessons have you learned along the way? What aspect of your life do you still need to work on?

Katherine Tokarz: to never expect it will get easier. Every day I have to continue to fight for my own happiness. Jobs are fleeting… what counts is being honest and true to who I am and loving myself and the people around me. In the end, that's what matters!!

Tammy Scileppi:
Do you see yourself working behind the scenes one day? You mentioned that within your circle you know people who are writers and other creative types.

Katherine Tokarz: I really respect those who create—writers, composers, etc... I am not sure if I'll become one but I fantasize about opening up my mind and being a part of that group. Right now I don't see it, but maybe down the road in some sort of collaborative effort...who knows?

Tammy Scileppi: When was your big break?

Katherine Tokarz: 10 months after arriving in NYC…..auditioning for Wicked (getting the part) and performing in my first Broadway show (at the Gershwin Theatre)—I was in the Broadway production of Wicked, as well as, its touring show and also in a Chicago production of Wicked. The producers couldn’t believe they found a dancer who can sing like ‘that’—that's what helped me get cast. I thought I had got hired as a dancer for Wicked, then I saw my contract and it said “singer/dancer." Ironically, in A Chorus Line I play a dancer who can't sing.

Tammy Scileppi: Like all of us, you must get overwhelmed by the pressure and hectic schedule? What is your favorite thing to do in New York to de-stress (aside from working out)?

Katherine Tokarz: Yes! Mental health days are essential!!…I love long dinners with good company, going to the movies, and finding new things to do in the city… I went bike riding last week on the West Side and I loved it!! To de-stress, I try to spend time with good friends… and zone out with books and movies. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else right now! I love New York with a passion!!

Tammy Scileppi: Tell me about your recent gigs for the show?

Katherine Tokarz: I performed at Broadway in Bryant Park on stage, with Savannah Wise, Michele Mail, and Becca Tobin…this past summer…it was an open air free lunchtime series, for 6 consecutive Thursdays…we sang for the crowds! It was an amazing experience performing with POISON and the cast in the opening number…. and the day before, June 6th, the band members, (Bobby Dall, C.C. Deville and Rikki Rockett), visited the show and hung out backstage after the performance, with me and the entire cast. It was [also] an amazing experience performing with POISON and the cast in the opening number…at the Tony Awards.

Tammy Scileppi: What kind of advice can you give someone trying to “make it” in any field?

Katherine Tokarz: My mantra: “…Stay challenged….physically, mentally and professionally….and keep moving forward.”

Don't miss Katherine Tokarz and her “wow” performance in Rock of Ages!
Performance Schedule
• Monday: 8pm
• Tuesday: 7pm
• Wednesday: No Performance
• Thursday: 8pm
• Friday: 8pm
• Saturday: 2pm & 8pm
• Sunday: 2pm & 7pm

ROCK OF AGES TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE THRU JANUARY 4, 2010!
Regular Price: $59.50 - $139.50
The Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 W. 47th Street). All tickets (including VIP Green Room and Premium Seats) can be purchased via Ticketmaster.com.
Call: 212-307-4100 or in person at The Box Office, 256 W. 47th Street.

 

 



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