By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Grafton/Shrewsbury – In between teaching voice and piano lessons, Stephanie Sarkisian of North Grafton frequently performs with the Shrewsbury-based community theater group Regatta Players.
She’s currently rehearsing its production of the Mel Brooks musical comedy “Young Frankenstein” in a lead role, Elizabeth, the self-loving, boisterous fiancé of brain surgeon Dr. Frederick Frankenstein. This marks Sarkisian’s sixth musical with Regatta Players since 2014.
“Regatta has a special place in my heart,” she declared. “I always want to keep coming back to this unique group. I love the feeling of family and how everybody supports each other.”
“Young Frankenstein” will be presented Fridays, Aug. 3 and 10, and Saturdays, Aug. 4 and 11, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sundays, Aug. 5 and 12, at 2 p.m. Performances will take place at Southgate at Shrewsbury’s Flanagan Theater, located at 30 Julio Dr.
After receiving a bachelor’s of music degree from Anna Maria College, Sarkisian worked the 2001-2002 academic year subbing for music teachers at Shrewsbury public schools, and teaching private voice and piano lessons for youth at Apple Tree Arts (ATA) in Grafton. She also began her stint with the five-town Tantasqua school district as a music and choral specialist. After earning a master’s in education from Lesley University, she was pleased to return to ATA in 2012.
“[Executive Director] Donna Blanchard has done unbelievable work for ATA,” Sarkisian said. “It’s such a special school that brings so much of the community together.”
In addition to working at ATA and Tantasqua school district, Sarkisian teaches private voice and piano at students’ homes, mostly in Shrewsbury. She strives to teach students more than music technique.
“I want them to feel like they can express themselves through music,” she explained. “I try to help them find their voice.”
With her work schedule established, Sarkisian performed with community theaters including Central Mass Onstage in Paxton and Vanilla Box Productions in Worcester. In 2014, she became aware of Regatta Players through Bonnie Narcisi, its board chair and founding member. Since then, Sarkisian performed in Regatta’s “Godspell,” “The Wedding Singer,” “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” “First Date,” “Evita” and “Shout.”
Now rehearsing Elizabeth in “Young Frankenstein,” Sarkisian is tackling a role originally played on Broadway by multiple-award-winning actress Megan Mullally of “Will & Grace” fame, and by Tony Award-winning comedic actress-singer Madeline Kahn in the film on which the musical is based. The character’s solo songs – “Alone,” “Deep Love” and “Please Don’t Touch Me” – feature a wide vocal range of high and low notes along with provocative lyrics about her relationship with the Monster, a misunderstood creation of Dr. Frankenstein.
“I’m definitely a belter,” Sarkisian noted. “These are vocally-demanding songs and I love them all, but my favorite is ‘Deep Love.’ Elizabeth just experienced the big moment with the Monster and she’s doesn’t care about little things like her hair and nails anymore. She’s found herself.”
Once again, Sarkisian finds herself grateful for the Regatta Players.
“I’m so humbled to be with this great cast and people behind the scenes,” she said. “This is going to be a special show for everybody.”
Joining Sarkisian in the “Young Frankenstein” cast are Kyle Collins, Crystal Devoe, Norman Dubois, Angela Foley Herrmann, Krissi Forgues, Laura Gulli, Lindsey Iversen, Brendan Mahoney, Shawn Nguyen, Christina Pierro, Charlie Pietrello, Alexandria Richards, Tom Sargent and George Smith. The production team are Jeremy Woloski, director; Leah Marley, music director; Monica Iversen, choreographer; Joanne Smith, production manager; and Kristen Pichette, stage manager.