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posted: 7/8/2011 12:01 AM

Bolingbrook native tickled pink by role

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  • Mr. and Mrs. Pinkerton (Patrick Byrnes, left, and Rachel Klippel) don't know what to do with their cupcake-loving daughter in "Pinkalicious."

      Mr. and Mrs. Pinkerton (Patrick Byrnes, left, and Rachel Klippel) don't know what to do with their cupcake-loving daughter in "Pinkalicious."

 
 

In Elizabeth and Victoria Kann's popular children's book, "Pinkalicious," a young girl and her family get stuck in a standoff. She will only eat food that is pink -- like frosting-laden cupcakes -- while her family pushes her toward healthy greens. The solution comes when both sides learn to be more flexible and accepting.

Oddly enough, Rachel Klippel, who plays the mother in Emerald City Theatre's current revival of their hit musical production of "Pinkalicious," learned the same lesson about the importance of flexibility and variety pursuing her own theater career.

While she was studying in University of Illinois' opera program, Klippel assumed she would teach choral performance and then appear in operas after she graduated. And she did that. But work can be hard to find, and Klippel soon discovered that if she wanted to work steadily she would have to branch out.

The step from opera to musicals was not a surprising one.

"I studied opera partly because U of I didn't have a music theater program at the time," explains Klippel, an alum of Bolingbrook High School. A more difficult step was into the worlds of nonmusical theater and children's theater.

In fact, she hadn't done any theater for children when she auditioned for the Chicago-based children's theater Emerald City Theatre Company in the spring of 2010. Still she was called back and ultimately cast in the role of the frenzied, workaholic Mrs. Pinkerton, an overcommitted mom who must cope with the fact that her daughter's obsession with the color pink has literally turned her pink.

Klippel may not have done children's theater before, but once she stepped onto the stage last fall in the initial run of "Pinkalicious," she was hooked.

"Kids are much more honest than adults as an audience," she says. "They will tell you they don't like something. But they are also a more generous audience. When they like something they are very generous with their oohs and ahhs."

Klippel is thrilled to be re-creating the role in a summer run of the show at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.

"I have grown a lot as a performer since the production last year, and I am applying all of that to this production," Klippel says enthusiastically. "I've learned a lot from the show. I've learned that it's not necessarily all about being the perfect family, but rather the goofy moments when you laugh and share a connection. Playing Mrs. Pinkerton has also taught me to find a balance of work and play."

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