Monday, July 15, 2013

Spotlight On...Amara Haaksman

Name: Amara Haaksman

Hometown: League City, TX (Just south of Houston)

Education: I got my Bachelor of Music: Music Theatre from Oklahoma City University. I have also done intensive programs at The Atlantic Theatre Company, Circle in the Square Theatre School and The Manhattan School Music

Select Credits: Iola Stover (The Secret Theatre in Queens); Lighthouse a Romantic Musical Adventure (Leda, The Shell Theatre); That Lady from Maxim's (Crevette Robert Moss Theatre)

Why theater?: Growing up, I found myself very fortunate to be exposed to theatre from a young age. My mom got us season tickets to the shows that toured to Houston and I remember wonderful productions at The Alley Theatre as well as other local theaters. I always loved going to theatre and being transported by the actors to a new place in time or the world, letting it introduce me to new ideals, or making me laugh, or cry. As a young girl I decided I just had to be a part of something that could be so magical for me. I wanted to help tell those stories. I got involved in my community theatre, The Harbour Playhouse, in Dickinson, TX. It was an old movie house that had been renovated into a theatre and gave me an amazing introduction to theatre and the rest is history.

Tell us about That Lady from Maxim's: It is a new musical based on an old French farce by Georges Feydeau called La dame de chez Maxim's. Most of the plot points throughout the show came directly from the play. The show takes place in Paris, France at the turn of the century, 1899. After beaucoup champagne at the notorious nightclub, Maxim's, respectable Dr. Petypon wakes to discover Crevette (my character), a free-spirited modern woman, half naked in his bed. Desperate to conceal this indiscretion from his righteous wife and rich uncle, he finds himself caught in a hilarious maze of mistaken identities, complicated lies, and catapulting chaos, gleefully orchestrated by – mais oui – THAT LADY FROM MAXIM’S!

What is it like being a part of That Lady from Maxim's?: I have been with the production since its first full staging in 2011 at the Shell Theatre. So this production in NYMF is my third time with the show. It has been a very exciting ride, getting to see the evolution of the show as songs, dialogue, and even characters have been added or deleted from the show. It is really wonderful to get to be a part of all the changes and little improvements. We have had a few cast changes over the course of the show as well and it is always amazing to see the fun things each person finds within a character and in turn the new things they bring out in you. It has indeed been a pleasure stepping into the scandalous and free-spirited shoes of That Lady from Maxim's again in this great festival. When I joined the show I never would have guessed it would have taken me on this journey and I am very thankful for that.

What kind of theater speaks to you? Who or what inspires you as an artist?: I find myself enjoying many different types of theater. There are times when I want nothing more than a classic musical with a beautiful score and timeless love story. There are other times when a great pop score or a musical adaptation of a movie I love really hits the spot. However my absolute favorite type of theater to enjoy is a play or musical that takes the audience on a journey that really informs them on an important time in history or helps them clearly see a point of view of an important issue. The power of theatre to take an issue and perhaps show someone with an opposing view a whole new side to things, and force them to reevaluate their opinions and really try on something new, I think that is the most rewarding part of seeing theatre or being a part of theatre. I remember seeing The Diary of Anne Frank when I was very young and just being swept up in this time in history that I could not get enough. I read any book I could find on the Holocaust and I read Anne Franks diary. I have never forgotten how that play inspired me to really expand my knowledge. Two of the shows I have also been unable to get out of my head were the recent productions of Next Fall and The Normal Heart on Broadway. I found myself so moved by the stories and was so pleased to find that friends I had always learned to peacefully disagree with about ideas presented in both plays, had found themselves rethinking their positions on the issues and open to really exploring the other side. It truly inspires me when an artist is completely honest and vulnerable onstage. I love when I watch a play, musical, TV show, movie, or even when I see my favorite band play and I see an artist who completely loses themselves in what they are doing. In the story they are telling. When the artist manages to bring me into their story and I forget who they are and everything that is happening in my life at the moment I am always very impressed.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Hmmm there are so many roles out there I would love to play. I find myself especially drawn to certain actors careers, like Laura Linney and Kelli O'Hara and how much they have impressed me and inspired me across their careers, that I find myself desiring the opportunity to give those same roles a shot someday.  I would also absolutely love to do a large scale production of Lighthouse, a new musical which was written by Bryan Williams, who also wrote That Lady from Maxim's. It is based on Henrik Ibsen's That Lady from the Sea and contains a beautiful story with a gorgeous score. I have hinted at Bryan every year we have done Maxim's that he should bring it back again. I hope one day he does.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Also tough to narrow down, and I feel like it changes daily, but "Seasons of Love" from Rent might win out due to sentimental value. It has been a lasting memorial to a very talented actress from my hometown who disappeared when I was in middle school.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I have truly enjoyed all the experiences I have had so far, however I have not reached the point of working with those "household names" yet but of course there are plenty out there I would be honored to work with like Laura Linney, Kelli O'Hara, Lily Rabe, Joe Mantello, Bartlett Sher, Mary Louise Parker, the list could go on for ages. :)

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I feel like my life is still beginning and not much has happened to me yet, I hope to have a fantastic answer to this in the next 10 years. It would be wonderful to think that my life could someday present a great breakout role to an unknown artist though.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: MURDER BALLAD!!!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I love my television dramas. When it is a well written and acted show I find myself getting so caught up in their stories they start to feel like friends.

What’s up next?: I have no desire to leave the theatre world, however I do plan to begin a journey into film and television once this show ends. I had never before thought I wanted to move in that direction, but lately if has felt like a fantastic adventure that I want to take.

For more on Amara, visit For more on That Lady from Maxim's, visit