Actor Michelle Tibble discusses her role as Louise Seger in Raue Center For The Art’s “Always…Patsy Cline” opening March 19, 2022.
Can you introduce yourself to our audience?
I’m Michelle Tibble. I’ve been acting professionally since I was in college, so a long time. I’m also a wife and a mom of two cute kiddos. When not on stage you can find me sharing stories and joy through the art of balloons and variety entertainment. I have 20 plus years of improv and variety arts experience and have run my own special events company since 2003 called Awesome Balloon Creations LLC.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA with my mom who is a HUGE Patsy Cline fan, and I moved to Chicago in 2004 to focus on Second City. I grew to love the work and the people that I found here and never left. My favorite genre of performance is comedy and musical theatre because it evokes joy and larger-than-life ideas. And if I had to give myself a mission statement it would be to evoke joy.
What do you love about this character?
I love Louise for a lot of reasons, but most and foremost I love that she’s a good storyteller and she has the kind of sense of humor I grew up around. That brash witty honesty. She kind of reminds me of my aunts and my mom, but with a fearless openness that they could only dream of. My mom was a huge Patsy Cline fan. She would listen to Patsy Cline almost every day, just like Louise Seger. There are a lot of similarities between Lousie Seger and my mother. Not so much the brevity and comedic parts of Louise, because my mother is quite shy, but she is a woman, like Louise, who gravitated toward Patsy Cline’s music to help her wash out pain and took comfort in it during a time when not many people around her understood her or her choices. Music can be a form of therapy for a lot of people, and Patsy Cline, I believe, was that for many women. Louise is this single mom, who is raising kids during a time when it was not popular to divorce and it was a man’s world. She and Patsy have that in common. She was definitely a trailblazer on a lonely path, and she saw and heard those traits in Patsy Cline and her music, and it resonated with her. And quite frankly, that also resonates with me. I think we all seek something to pull us toward hope, light, and understanding on a daily basis and even more so during those harder moments, and sometimes that can be music and a celebrity. We all have that one celebrity that grabs us and gives us excitement.
My celebrity is Mariska Hargitay from Law and Order SVU. She fell into my life in a similar way that Louise found Patsy, she even wrote me a letter after I wrote a song about her at Second City, which I have hanging in my office, and the whole letter/celebrity part of this story really speaks to me. Louise also doesn’t dwell on her sorrows, which is the best part of Louise, and she tends to throw herself into things in a “Live in the moment” kind of way, and I love that about this character. Because she could be a tragic character, but she rises above negativity, and that fun-loving open-hearted energy is why I think she got the opportunity to live a dream the night that she runs into Miss Patsy Cline. Had she just sat back in fear, she would have never met Patsy. And don’t we all want that? That feeling to just be so open and carefree that things land in our lap and we just eat it up like a kid in a candy store! I hope that when people are watching her story, they also feel the love and warmth of this character and the music, and take that feeling with them when they leave.
What is the first thing you do to research and approach a role?
I dissect the moments and then I try to connect with them.
I go through the script and try to find the things that other characters say about them, what they say about themselves, and also take note of what they talk about.
I try to figure out the details that are not written on the page. The before moments. Sometimes you have to make that up, but it will just help you figure out how to react to all kinds of moments when the lights turn on.
There is a reason for every word in a script, so you have to know why the author chose those words.
Sometimes the words are exposition, but usually, it’s a little puzzle piece telling us about the character and how they feel.
What’s challenging about bringing this script to life?
I can’t believe I’m about to answer this question in the way that I’m about to answer it, but I know that every audience member from here to Texas would want to know the answer to this question, so here goes. The most challenging thing about this script so far has been memorizing all of the ding dang lines! LOL
And the reason I am in disbelief of saying that, is because over the decades, I have done countless talkbacks after all kinds of shows, and it doesn’t seem to matter what play or musical you are doing, you could have left your blood, sweat, tears, and soul on that stage, and felt the audiences swell with laughter and/or tears, and inevitably, the first question an audience member will ask you is…..”how did you memorize all of those lines?” (And that’s when I slap my own head). As an actor, I truly despise that question. It’s an expected question so don’t feel bad if you’ve asked it, but I truly would like to ban it from all talkbacks. Please, for the love of all things right in the world, never ask that question at a talkback.
That being said, this show was really hard to memorize. I’m alone on stage. I’m talking or having to listen intently to the whole show. If I mess up…there is not one person who can save me, not even the band, I just have to talk my way back with spit and a prayer, and hope that Sara Beth knows where I’m going with it all for her next entrance.
So yep. Learning my lines has been the hardest part of this show!
So, how am I doing it? Well, I had a teacher in college tell us to read the play before bed every night. I’ve never had to do that. But I tried that, and he was clearly not a mother of two small children who also runs a business and 15 other people. I just fall asleep the second I hit the bed. So then I started getting up super early to read it. I also tried a script app, but it’s really hard to use those script apps with long monologues. So I would memorize a monologue a day and then for 24-48 hrs I would rehearse that monologue everywhere, mostly while driving. I then run through the whole script daily, while I work or drive. This seems to be working, but repetition repetition repetition seems to be the trick. Like anything else.
Why did you want to be involved in this production?
I’ve worked with Kevin, the director once before, and I knew we would collaborate well. He’s supported other shows that I’ve been in, and he reached out to see if I would audition and I thought ‘, sure, why not. I’ll audition.’ I was slightly hesitant because my mother really did over listen to Patsy Cline when I was a kid. LOL. But then I read the script, and I just love Louise! I love this character so much! She really is a challenge and a joy. Sara Beth is the best Patsy Cline you could ask for, both on and off stage. She’s a pro at music, she just knows exactly what she wants from her voice and the band has incredible knowledge about Patsy Cline and is a sweetheart in every way. So I’m very excited to be working out here in Crystal Lake with this incredible team of people and to be putting on this fun show for you all.
See Michelle Tibble as Louise Seger in “Always…Patsy Cline,” running March 19-April 16, 2022 at Raue Center For the Arts. For tickets and more information visit rauecenter.org