Mt. Lebanon native shows versatility on stage, behind scenes, in classroom
Actors act. Stage managers work behind the scenes. And never the twain shall …
Meet Kelly Trumbull, who is doing both for the Pittsburgh CLO Cabaret’s production of “The 39 Steps.”
The 1999 Mt. Lebanon High School graduate has learned all the applicable roles as the female swing understudy, meaning that she is ready and able to step right in for any of the women. Plus she’s serving as assistant stage manager, working with veteran Tim Brady to ensure that each performance goes as smoothly as possible.
“This has been quite an experience, because the play ‘39 Steps’ is totally crazy, technically speaking. It’s so intense. There’s so much going on,” Trumbull said about the Tony Award-winning comedy, which films buffs will recognize as an adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 thriller.
While she has done plenty of acting, well, most of her life, this represents Trumbull’s first foray into professional stage management.
“I have a newfound respect for anyone who works on the crew of a production, because it’s intense,” the current South Side resident said.
CLO Cabaret regulars will remember her in last year’s “Boeing Boeing” as Gabriella, one of three featured stewardesses – hey, the premise predates political correctness – in the set-in-the-’60s farce “Boeing Boeing.”
And her students at Carnegie Mellon and Point Park universities will recognize her, too.
Yes, Trumbull’s versatility extends to the classroom, as she instructs a variety of drama courses at two of Pittsburgh’s premier institutions of higher learning. The academic year that just wrapped up was her first at CMU, where she’s had a particularly interesting experience:
“I teach acting to the opera singers,” she said. “At first, I wasn’t sure how to go about approaching it because, technically speaking, operatic acting and traditional acting are very different. But I found that a lot of the fundamental principles that you find in a traditional acting class are very applicable to operatic-style acting.”
She also continues to teach at Mt. Lebanon’s own Center for the Theater Arts, where she got her own start with learning drama back when she was a student at Washington Elementary School. By the time she was in high school, she earned the lead role in the production of “My Fair Lady.”
Her acting appetite sufficiently whetted, Trumbull went on to earn a bachelor of fine arts from Syracuse University. From there, it was to New York and Los Angeles – where else? – for more acting and working in a production company.
Then it was back to school, for her master’s in educational theater from New York University. As a result, career opportunities opened in her native city.
“I actually came back to Pittsburgh with the intention of probably going back to New York eventually,” she said about her 2011 return. “But then I started to get a lot of work here, a lot of really fun work, and I just never left.
“Pittsburgh’s a great town,” Trumbull continued, “because, unlike New York and LA, it’s so much smaller, so much more accessible. I’ve been able to make great connections in a much shorter amount of time. And the theater community here is really close-knit.”
Along with the CLO, she has worked locally with the likes of Quantum Theatre, Bricolage Production Company, Point Park’s The REP and Mt. Lebanon-based No Name Players.
“Live theater is my favorite medium to work in as an actor,” Trumbull said. “Every single performance is different. As an actor, if you are hung up on trying to re-create what you believe in your mind is the perfect show, you’re never going to be truthful. You’re never going to be living in the moment. That takes you out of really connecting to someone, really listening to someone, really trying to emulate real life on stage.”
For more information about the CLO’s “The 39 Steps,” visit www.pittsburghclo.org/shows/the-39-steps.