Stars Behind the Stars: Kelley Lynne Moncrief '21
BY Robbie Armstrong, April 27, 2020
Stars Behind The Stars is a bi-weekly series featuring theatre makers behind the scenes.
This week we sat down with Stage Management student Kelley Lynne Moncrief ’21 and discussed her work on Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol. Moncrief is a Virgo who worked on the inaugural MTI Senior production of Into The Woods Senior and the Broadway bound musical Becoming Nancy.
Tell me about your first time being involved in Theatre.
Kelley Lynne Moncreif: In 5th grade I played Juliet in Shakespeare in the Gym at my school. I performed the balcony scene, which was the only scene from Romeo And Juliet in the show. The balcony itself was made out of the box they delivered Tastykakes in. I still have that whole monologue memorized. I remember always saying “I don’t want to do it cuz boys are gross.” So I was told to think of it as a science experiment, because I was really into science.
So you’re a Virgo...
KLM: I am contesting the fact that I’m a Virgo. They’re meant to be shy and I don’t think that exemplifies me very well. Others always say I’m a Virgo because of the way I put detail into my daily outfits and the way I show up early to class and work. I feel that the Buzzfeed quiz that told me what type of cheese I am better represents me. I’m “Cheese in a can,” and it shows that I’m artificial but fun, bright, and it gets the job done. Everyone wants cheese in a can.
How does being a Virgo, or cheese in a can, appear in your work?
KLM: I was a volunteer Assistant Stage Manager for Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol. It was a benefit for The Actor’s Fund with a ton of performers and a lot of stage managers. On the day of the performance, we had one run through and no one had time to tell me what to do because it was very busy. I spent my time finding what to do, recognizing that I was the extra helping hands. I’ve been told that taking initiative like that is a Virgo quality. I just looked around and built my own track for the show: helping one actor put a cape on at a specific part of the show, moving props to the right spaces, catching props that came off stage, etc.
That sounds wild!
KLM: Yeah it was hectic. In the break room, all the actors were just standing around staring at the coffee machine so I figured out how to make it work for them.
How has your Columbia education prepared you for a career in theatre?
KLM: I’ve started reflecting a lot in interviews to make sure I understand the question. I learned that from the Conflict Resolution class, taught by Fred Hanson. In addition I have really learned how to be a Stage Manager and I didn’t quite know that before. I was the girl who asked what spike tape was and it’s still the running joke around Columbia. Columbia truly taught me how to be a Stage Manager and I’m thankful for that.
What type of theatre inspires you most?
KLM: I would definitely say Immersive Theatre. When I lived in London, I gorged myself in immersive works. I used to think it was the future of theatre. I love when an actor looks right into your eyes. I love dressing up for the time period of the show. I’ll chase an actor around too. You can go watch a movie on a screen in front of you and proscenium theatre isn’t all too different from that. We have the power to put the audience inside the story and I think that’s so cool.
I'd love to know more about what kind of theatre you think will be most important once this pandemic is over. What type of art do you think the world needs right now?
KLM: We need joy. I believe very strongly in joy. These are the times when we need to choose to be happy. No one wants to see a six hour long death play with four intermissions. I want to see a show where I can scream after every musical number. I think Be More Chill would have done amazing if it had opened after the pandemic because it’s a small cast, with shallow teenage problems, and happy endings. I think now we would accept the problems that come from a digital world. In that show, all the problems come from the internet and it makes sense to us now.
If you could be any famous child, who would you be and why?
KLM: Daniel Radcliffe because he had a great chance to grow up and be a douchebag but he didn’t. He uses his money to do weird artsy projects. I think we have similar artistic tastes because he does weird small independent theatre and films. He supports so many charities and he’s a normal person. Also he’s richer than the Queen.
What’s your favorite play/musical?
KLM: My favorite musical is Jesus Christ Superstar. ‘Heaven On Their Minds’ is my favorite song from the show.
What’s coming up next?
KLM: My next novel will be ready for publishing soon. I’ve been writing it during the pandemic.
Is there anything else we should cover?
KLM: You didn’t ask me which historical figure (but not an evil dictator) I would fist fight.
Okay who would you fight?
KLM: I would fist fight Aristotle for writing the first book on theatre, called Poetics. And I’d fight Freud for his study of Dora.