Here is another in a series of interviews with principal cast members in The Sound of Music at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis:

Actress Cara Statham Serber

Actress Cara Statham Serber

Recently I had a chance to ask questions to the lovely and talented Cara Statham Serber, who stars as Maria in the current offering by Beef and Board Dinner Theatre – The Sound of Music. Cara lives in the Dallas TX area, is a wife and the mother of two young girls, and as anyone who has seen B&B’s production will attest – she was a perfect casting for the part of Maria. She was kind enough to take a bit of time out of her busy day to answer a few questions for me.

Q: Cara, I always like to start right at the beginning Tell me where you were born and where you grew up.

Cara: I was born in Wichita, Ks and I grew up there.

Q: All the way through high school?

Cara: Right through high school.

Q: Was anyone in your family a performer?

Cara: My grandmother sang in the choir growing up as did my mom, and my dad was in a quartet. There was a huge love of music in our home.

Q: That’s great. I know that had an impact on you. So, what was your first theatre experience?

Cara: I played one of the little girls in Oliver at Music Theatre of Wichita when I was 7 years old. That’s all it took – I was hooked.

Q: How great to get “the bug” when you’re a kid! So tell me, where did you study theatre primarily?

Cara: I attended school at Stephens College in Columbia, MO. I have a BFA in Theatre from there. It was a great 3 year, 2 summer program. They own a summer stock program in Spirit Lake, Iowa that was part of our degree program. It was an amazing experience.

Q: I happen to know that that program at Stephens is routinely ranked among The Princeton Review’s Top 10 “Best College Theatres” and it is one of the oldest theatre programs in the country. Good choice!

Cara: It really was!

Q: So what was your favorite college role?

Cara: I played Keely in the play Keely and Du. It was very edgy and different from anything I had done before.

Q: Different in what way?

Cara: Because I had always played ingénues in musicals and this was a really raw character with really deep flaws. It was so different and such a challenge.

(Sidenote: Keely and Du is a 1994 play by Jane Martin which deals with the subjects of Pregnancy, Christianity, and Abortion among other things.)

Q: Did you go right into the acting profession after college?

Cara: I did. I went on a Children’s Theatre tour. It was one of those crazy tours where you travel in a van pulling the set with 4 other people in all kinds of weather. It’s built for the young.

Q: Wow! – I had a very similar job for a season in Arkansas! I could only take the one season, then I moved on.

Cara: This tour was with Wichita Children’s Theatre in Wichita, KS. I was on it for 3 years, one as a cast member and 2 years as tour manager.

Q: Have you had any other jobs besides theatre or were there any interruptions to your career?

Cara: Oh, there have been life interruptions.…marriage, children. Outside of theater, I am also a commercial actress. I am with the Mary Collins Agency in Dallas and have made national and local commercials. I’ve also been in TV episodes of Barney and Prison Break.

Q: Barney – the purple dinosaur? Really?

Cara: Yes, I was a singing mommy on Barney.

Q: And I will bet you were the best singing mommy they ever had! Hah! So, what would you say was the turning point in your career?

Cara: It would have to be moving to Dallas. I had always played ingénues, but in Dallas I was seen as a comedic actress, which I love.

Q: Can you tell me some highlights of your career?

Cara: Oh, I was in Superman at the Dallas Theatre Center. I was surrounded by such amazing talent and an excellent creative team. It was very special.

Q: So what has been your favorite role, professionally?

Cara: I’ve been so lucky to play so many awesome roles. The most fun I’ve ever had was playing Lin in The Great American Trailer Park Musical. I loved playing Anna in the King and I here at Beef and Boards. I would love to play that role again now that I have some life experience.

Q: Any low points in your career?

Cara: You know, Ken – rejection – not getting the part you want – is always tough, but absolutely part of the business.

Q: You’re right – we have all been through that one. There is no way around it. Now, if you could give advice to young actors who hope for a career in theatre, what would it be?

Cara: Never stop learning. Ever! Take classes whenever you can, and audition whenever you can. And very important: STAY IN DANCE CLASS!

Q: Great advice. It’s a hard career to do well at – but you seem to have had a lot of success. Tell me, what do you like to do outside of theatre?

Cara: I love being with my family. I have two daughters, 4 and 7 and my husband Jeff. They are very time consuming – in a wonderful way. I also like to read and workout.

Cara Statham Serber as Marie in "The Sound of Music" at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

Cara Statham Serber as Maria in “The Sound of Music” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre

Q: Just a few more questions, Cara. Have you been in The Sound of Music previously? What roles did you play?

Cara: Well, this is my 5th time to play Maria.

Q: Your 5th time? Wow!

Cara: Yes – and I also played Marta once when I was 10.

Q: That’s great! Having played Maria five times – do you find it is very different from theatre to theatre? Is it different playing opposite various Captain Von Trapps?

Cara: The biggest difference that I have noticed about playing Maria at different times in my life, is how my perspective has changed on the character based on my life experience. I find more and more in her as I get older. And my interpretation of her has changed with each person playing the Captain, all of whom have been wonderful.

Q: I know you’ve worked at B&B before – what roles have you played here?

Cara: I love Beef and Boards! I first worked here in 1997 and last in 2003. I consider it a second home. My first role was Maria in The Sound of Music, then – Marian in The Music Man, Anna in The King and I, Grace in Annie, and I’ve been in the ensemble in My Fair Lady and Phantom and lots of Christmas Shows! My dearest friends are in Indianapolis and I am so grateful to be back.

Q: Wow! And out of all those – which is your favorite role?

Cara: Maria is my very favorite role, but Annie was my favorite show. My dear friends, Holly (Stover), Kenny (Shepherd), Deb (Sisson Wims), Ty (Stover), Jeff (Stockberger), Jody (Cook) and more were all in it. What a joy. And we were just missing Eddie (Curry).

Q: Last question – What will your next project be?

Cara: Raising my babies! My older daughter Libby fought and won her battle with Stage 4 kidney cancer this past year, so we have lots of celebrating to do and fun to have! I will hopefully have some good upcoming projects in Dallas.

Q: I’ve seen pictures of your girls – they’re so sweet. And I know Libby was so brave through her ordeal. I truly wish you all the best! Thanks so much for your time. It was great getting to know more about you.

Cara: Thank you, too, Ken.

If you are interested in attending Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music at Beef and Board Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis, ticket information can be found by calling 317-872-9664. The show opens May 16 and runs thru June 30. Further info about the show can be found at .

*Show picture from The Sound of Music by Julie Curry