Bellingham's Emily Lester has been acting in Whatcom and Skagit counties since she was 8 years old in community theater and school productions. She's currently starring in Bellingham Theatre Guild's "The Pajama Game."
She plays Babe Williams, a disgruntled worker who falls madly and reluctantly in love with her new boss. She played the same role a few years ago through Northwest Washington Theatre Group. The musical runs Friday, Nov. 23, through Dec. 9 at the guild playhouse, 1600 H St.
Question: What are some of the shows you've been in over the years?
Answer: I started at the Barn Theatre in Sudden Valley, and since then have acted at Squalicum and Bellingham High schools, Whatcom Community College, Western Washington University, Theatre Arts Guild in Skagit County, the iDiOM Theater, Bellingham Theatre Guild and at Claire vg Thomas Theatre in Lynden. I've had all kinds of roles, from tiny chorus to a two-person show, and "extra number 17" with one line and as the lead in a musical.
Q: Any favorites?
A: My favorite types of shows to do are musicals, because they are so big and crazy, and also dramas. Comedies are fun, but I get to be a goofball every day of my life! When I do theater, I like to do things out of my comfort zone, like get slapped across the face or screaming at somebody. Things that will (hopefully) never happen in real life.
Q: Why do you like it so much?
A: I'm still never sure how to answer this question. There are a lot of reasons I could think of ... when a spotlight fills my eyes for the first time in a few months, my heart still skips a beat and I have to catch my breath. When I'm about to go on for my first scene, I still have a moment of terror thinking I'll forget all my lines. Being onstage makes me feel things that I haven't felt in "real" life.
You get to go through experiences you'll never get to actually experience, and if you're lucky feel the genuine feelings you'd feel in that moment. Apart from all that sappy stuff, I also love (and hate, at times!) how all-consuming theater is.
Every time you do a new show, you become a new person, get a new family with new best friends, a new home to live in. Every time a show ends you lose all that instantly. And then next show, you start over with a new family, new home. The show and everything about it becomes your life for few months. It's simultaneously devastating and wonderful.
Q: What's fun about "The Pajama Game?"
A: It's actually my second time doing this show in the past two years, which should say something for how much fun it is. The songs are catchy, the dances are amazing. It's really a ridiculous show, in the best way.
It's set in the '50s, but it's about things that are still relevant today; not making enough money, and falling in love with someone you shouldn't (of course; it IS a musical!).
Q: What's "Babe" like?
A: I love how my character plays hard to get (something I am TERRIBLE at!) and how Sid, beautifully played by James Tweedale of the Upfront Theatre, is so genuinely in love with her. James and I have had a lot of fun playing off of each other and growing together. I think it's more enjoyable for an audience to watch two people who have a blast together. I hope our audiences will feel the same.
Q: What are your plans?
A: Right now the plan is to move to Los Angeles within the next couple of years. My dad always says I shine when I do theater, but I'm hoping it will be easier to make a living doing film acting. I've already done some extra work here in Seattle, and the extras coordinator sent me to an agency that casts extras in Los Angeles, so I'm very prepared to get right to work.
My backup plan is teaching, which is what I do now. My "backup" backup plan is becoming a masseuse. Backup plans and backup backup plans aside, I'm ready to buckle down and hang tough until something happens for me there.
Acting makes me so happy, and I know I want to do it for the rest of my life. Might as well try to make a career out of it.