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Mrs. Potts headed to the big time

By Staff | Dec 7, 2014

I once wrote a column that was actually sort of a review of the Blue Earth Town and Country Players Production of the musical Beauty and the Beast that was performed back in the summer of 2008.

From the costumes to the acting and singing, the show was awesome. Remember it? It featured professional actress Mackenzie Greimann Caine as Belle and Kurt Steinke as the Beast.

They were excellent, but then so was everyone in the play.

In my column I specifically mentioned the quality of the performances of all the minor characters, which helped make the overall show so great. One in particular that I mentioned was Mrs. Potts, played by Nancy Willette.

She has never forgotten that I wrote that comment about her.

In fact, she has used that “review” of the play, which mentions her performance, as a “reference.”

You see, Nancy and her husband, Tom, have moved to the Twin Cities area.

(However, they still maintain an apartment in downtown Blue Earth, across from the City Hall. Their building adjoins the former Ankeny Radiator building that is falling down and soon to be demolished. The Willettes will need to finish off that outside wall once the neighboring structure is gone, but that is another story, and I digress.)

Nancy has been trying to get into the Twin Cities theater scene and has auditioned several times in various theaters. She told me she would let me know if she was ever in some production in the Big City.

Recently she was successful, she wrote me.

She admits it is not the Guthrie, but she has landed the role of Clara the Angel in a St. Louis Park radio theater production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The part was ‘Clarence the Angel’ in the Jimmy Stewart movie, but they altered the role to female to fit Nancy.

Since it is a play where the audience watches a group of radio actors perform, Nancy actually gets to play several roles, including Mrs. Hatch and a couple of the Bailey kids.

She says the man who plays Mr. Potter is so good he steals the show, as does the sound effects guy, who also plays Uncle Billy. He is fun to watch as he juggles all of his sound stuff and still has to act at the same time, she says.

Nancy says her years in the T&C Players productions were good training for her. But, she says, this seems to be more serious theater. In Blue Earth, there were fewer rehearsals, more disorganization, and yet they got the same results. And, had a lot of fun doing it.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is being performed at the Lenox Little Theater at 6715 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park, on Dec. 12 at 2 and 7 p.m., and on Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 and are available at www.BrownPaperTickets.com.

Nancy invites everyone from the area to come to the play, if they can. She jokes that she doesn’t expect a busload like the ones to see Shannon Schonrock play ball or Kelly Kaduce sing, but if even one person from Blue Earth came up to the play it would make her day.

And, who knows? Maybe the Guthrie Theater is the next step; then what? Look out Broadway.