You are my Sugar!
The fabulous Colleen Hawks, as Sugar Kane in SUGAR, "The Some Like It Hot" Musical!
I grew up in a little cowboy town in California's Central Valley called Oakdale. I started taking ballroom dance when I was in 2nd grade and competed in the LA Star ball when I was in 6th grade winning the junior's Waltz competition with my partner Michael Thompson (now Las Vegas choreographer Mic Thompson). My sister, Lenore, was a competitive ballroom dancer, and she was the one who got me started and always pushed me to try new things. I started taking tap, jazz, ballet, gymnastics, flute and piano in fourth grade, which I kept up with mostly through high school and college. My poor mom was stuck driving me from our little town to bigger areas always at least a half hour away almost every day of the week. I started taking voice lessons from Hildegard Shadbolt at the age of 16, which was the earliest she would take students and started college as an opera performance major as a coloratura soprano. Once I discovered the musical theatre BFA program, though, I was hooked and transferred over, as musical theatre was always my first love. I discovered it for the first time in fourth grade at Fallon House Theatre in historic Columbia, CA, where my mom took me to the whole season of summer stock. Back then the productions were put on by University of the Pacific. I can remember sitting in the audience and just feeling a burning desire in my heart to be up on that stage doing what they were doing.
I 've seen several of Marilyn Monroe's movies, including Some Like It Hot. The first time I was asked to impersonate her was for an American Variety show in Japan, where I was fortunate to be the lead singer opposite Hinton Battle, and also introduce the various scenes as "Marilyn." They had me do a running gag as Marilyn with a local Japanese comic who was trying to deliver an orange tree to someone in the audience. Every time he appeared the tree had grown, and as Marilyn, each time my Japanese got a little better, but still bad enough to provide some comedy with my errors.
I think the musical adaptation "Sugar" is really a fun show. I think having Spat's and his gang portrayed as tapping gangsters is brilliant and I think most of the music is extremely well written. My favorite is probably "Penniless Bums," which I find myself humming every so often. Some of the funniest lines in the movie were unfortunately left out of the stage version, although we have rectified that in some instances in our version here at Westchester. I also think it's such an iconic film that the main characters are obligated to give nods to the stars that made it famous. I believe audiences would be disappointed if they didn't get to see a hint of Marilyn in the role. Fortunately, the role is such a vulnerable, kind of messed up character -- to me -- it almost is Marilyn, so layering a little of her mannerisms with the honesty of what's happening to the character isn't all that hard a stretch. The most difficult thing is to keep it honest and not let her become a caricature. I have to say, this is made much easier by having such talented co-stars in Gary Lynch and Eric Santagata!
When not on stage I very much enjoy teaching. I am the musical theatre director for Rutgers' Summer Acting Camp and the choreographer for Bronx High School of Science Spring Musical each year. I co-wrote and directed my husband's one-man show Southern Man. voice out of my home. Other than that I'm a huge bookworm and can be caught in my spare moments reading fantasy fiction. Last but not least, I'm a little bit of a computer geek as evidenced by my website, which I had a fun time putting together and am constantly playing with. I do photo retouching, a little bit of oil painting and I have two cats who yes, have their own web page, also on my site! In fact, you can learn more about me on that darned website than you probably ever wanted to know!