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Step Rowe

Starring in Lesbian Musical Theatre
by Step Rowe

January 2001

Just kidding!!  I starred in a musical theatre presentation of RENT, and my character’s sexual interest was in another woman.  I just thought the title might entice some of you to read this article about my groovy experience.  I guess that worked.

I LOVE to sing!!!  In fact, I majored in music at UT for three years, before switching to theatre.  I never have been able to leave one or the other behind (music or acting), so I continue to pursue both.  I’m not actually a big fan of traditional musical theatre, however.  Simple sappy songs bursting from a performer at intimate moments really annoy me.  If you’ve ever seen RENT, however, you know that it is contemporary subject matter and (best of all) ROCK MUSIC.  I’ve never had the opportunity to belt out rock songs on film before, so I was very excited and nervous. This was an opportunity to sing, dance, and act all at the same time, and the project’s end result will leave a copy of the videotape, as well as the CD sound track in my hot little hands.  Coooowull.

I had the honor of working with an incredibly talented cast of four — three of which are professional actors in Austin. But we didn’t all come together until the day of the shoot.  We recorded the vocal tracks separately and rehearsed separately.  Dennis Whitehead (of Zilker’s West Side Story) and Mike Foster played Roger and Mark. A freshman UT student (wow!), Laura, and I performed JoAnn and Maureen.  Foshko, the instructor supervising the project, kept remarking at our boundless energy over the 8-hour day.  Little did he know that it was because we were having so much fun!  He even gave us the opportunity to watch the morning’s rehearsal with his critique.  Dennis kept bribing him to receive more close-ups…just kidding!

It was almost like filming a television show.  There were three cameras on a studio set.  They played the CD we had recorded previously that week and we sang along and performed our choreography.  The "Take Me For What I Am" scene was the most fun for me.  My character continually plays a high-energy game of sexual cat and mouse with her girlfriend while wearing black-sequined hip huggers and a crop top!  She’s wild and uninhibited and a great release to play.  And for once, my unruly, long, wavy, black hair worked perfectly!

Since I began pursuing film in Austin, I’ve consistently been given the advice, "Get into student films!" I actually missed the original auditions for this project because I was in Dallas attending the "Aggressive Scene Winning" workshop with Bentley Mitchum. I was fortunate that the producer was still searching for a strong female lead when I returned.  I landed the part several days before rehearsals began. I guess you just never know when fate has saved a spot for you.

The students said that it was the most unusual film project they could remember, and one of the most entertaining.  I loved this experience.  If all of the student film projects are this professional, educational and rewarding, I say, "Bring ‘em on, UT!"

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