Doing these cast interviews has been a lot of fun for me. It has been such a great way to get to know the stars of the show better, and I know that my readers have been enjoying the experience as well. Here is another in the series of interviews with principal cast members in The Sound of Music at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis.

Actress and musical performer Sarah Hund

Actress and musical performer Sarah Hund

I am very pleased to have been able to interview the multi-talented Sarah Hund, who plays Elsa Schraeder in our show. She was kind enough to answer my questions recently.

Q: So Sarah, lets start by asking where you were born and where you grew up.

Sarah: I was born in Dodge City, Kansas – but I grew up in St. Louis, MO.

Q: Was anyone in your family a performer?

Sarah: No one. So, my parents were bewildered when I asked for a violin for Christmas when I was 10 years old. Lucky for me, they rented a violin for a few months. They didn’t buy one, in case I got bored with it or if I was just terrible at it. But they put a violin under the tree that year. I loved it! And eventually they bought one for me!

Q: Did you start violin lessons right away?

Sarah: I did take violin lessons as a kid starting around age 10, though we didn’t realize at the time that my teacher wasn’t really a violinist. He’s a composer, a pianist, and a terrific guy. So, he taught me the basics – how to read music, which notes were where on the violin, etc., but I didn’t really get the essential technique ideas when I was starting out. He did write pieces specifically for me to play, and that was pretty thrilling as a kid.

Q: It sounds like it was kind of intense.

Sarah: It was definitely more fun than intense. My early lessons really got me into the fun, creative, off-the-cuff side of music. Later in high school, I started taking lessons from actual violinists – and I had a lot of bad technique habits to correct. I still take lessons from time to time, and I still struggle with some old habits, but I get a little better with every lesson. There’s always room for improvement!

Q: So, what was your first theatre experience?

Sarah: Hmm… the first I can remember is a grade school production of Steamboatin’. I had one line – I can still remember it: “And he’s also a FINE gentleman!”

Q: And where did you study theatre primarily?

Sarah: I started out at St. Louis University as a classical voice major. I had done some shows in high school, but was always more involved in the music program. My sophomore year of college, I auditioned for the SLU theatre department’s production of Sweet Charity, hoping to be cast in the ensemble – they gave me the lead! I was scared out of my mind, thinking “I can’t act. What in the world are they thinking??” I even went to the director before rehearsals started to tell him that I thought he had made a mistake by casting me as Charity. He convinced me to give it a try. I’m so glad he did! My junior year, I became a theatre major in addition to my classical voice major.

Q: What was your favorite college role?

Sarah: Charity in Sweet Charity of course. I also really enjoyed playing Natalia in A Month in the Country and Beth in A Lie of the Mind

Q: What made you know you wanted to do this as a career? A high school experience? College? Steamboatin’?

Sarah: Playing Charity in Sweet Charity in college is what made me realize how much I loved acting. I had dabbled in it previously, but just for fun. I never thought I was all that good at it. During Sweet Charity, I fell in love with the character and with the theatre, and I REALLY wanted to do it a lot more!

Q: Did you go right into professional theatre after college?

Sarah: Actually, I had my first professional theatre jobs while still in college. I worked on The Goldenrod Showboat, one of the last operating showboats that used to bring theatre to towns up and down the Mississippi River. I just recently found out that The Goldenrod is being put up for auction, and may be sold for scrap – that’s so sad! Anyway, I arranged my class schedule around the Goldenrod’s show schedule so I could do shows there while in school. My first show on the boat was The Taffetas, which is a lot like Forever Plaid, but with an all-female cast. I also did Nunsense, Hello Dolly, and Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) there, among others.

Shortly after graduation, I played Marian Paroo in The Music Man at The Lincoln Amphitheatre in Dale, Indiana. Lucky for me, I was able to get acting work very consistently for quite a few years after graduation.

Q: Have you ever had to take on other jobs and have there ever been interruptions to your career?

Sarah: Well, when I first got my equity card by doing A Sander’s Family Christmas at The Barter Theatre (Ed.: in Abingdon, VA), I had a few tough years. All of my theatre contacts had been with theatres that hired only non-equity performers, so I could no longer work at any of them. I moved to NYC and auditioned like crazy while working as a server, until finally I started getting acting work again.

At one point, I also worked for a translator – that was a pretty interesting job. She is a brilliant woman who is fluent in 9 languages. She had a team of 5 transcribers/assistants. She spent all day translating medical and legal documents into english, whispering her translations into tape recorders for her transcribers. She was a very interesting lady!

Q: Can you describe any turning points in your career?

Sarah: Yes, a big turning point was when B&B hired me to do Smoke on the Mountain so many years ago! I’ve gotten to do so many great shows here and play lots of roles that other theatres may not see me in, much less cast me!

Another turning point would be when, during the summer of 2011, I played Mary Lou in Cowgirls at the Florida Studio Theatre. It was directed by Mary Murfitt, who wrote the play and originated my role. She and our music director, Mary Ehlinger, were such an inspiration. Doing that show helped me become so much better as a musician and a performer in general, and there are lots of shows I’ve gotten since then that I don’t think I would have gotten if I hadn’t done Cowgirls.

Q: And what have been some of your career highlights so far?

Sarah: Probably performing at The Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry’s old home in Nashville and at The Walnut Street Theatre – both great historic theatres where so many legends have played. (Ed.: The Walnut Street Theatre is located in Philadelphia and is the oldest continuously operating theatre in the English-speaking world and the oldest in the United States.)

Q: What has been your favorite role professionally

Sarah: That’s a tough question because I like them all! Well, almost all of them. Playing Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain was terrific – I would happily play that role again and again. I also love doing The Buddy Holly Story just because it’s just so much fun.

Q: Care to tell of any low points in your career?

Sarah: When I don’t have a gig coming up – that’s the toughest part of this career – the uncertainty. Luckily, something always comes up!

Q: When one has your talents, I would think that would be the case. Any advice for young actors who hope for a career in theatre?

Sarah: Always be improving. Develop your skills. Keep learning. Also – any and every skill you have may give you that edge that gets you a gig, whether it’s dancing or playing an instrument or baking or balancing a pencil on your nose. You never know!

Q: Finally – some recognition for the pencil balancing specialists! Hah! Okay – what other activities do you enjoy?

Sarah: I play and sing in rock, country, and bluegrass bands. An indy rock band I play with called The Bone Chimes is releasing an album June 11 called In the Muck. It’ll be on iTunes – check it out!

Q: How exciting – I’ll be looking for that! What do you do between gigs?

Sarah: I play with bands and look for more jobs. I’m always looking for more jobs!

Q: A performer’s biggest job is looking for jobs, isn’t it? Well, let’s get back to this show – have you been in The Sound of Music previously and if so, who did you play?

Sarah: I played Sr. Sophia at The Cumberland County Playhouse a long time ago, and I played Elsa at B&B five years ago.

Q: So you have worked at B&B previously? What roles?

Sarah: I’ve worked here lots and lots!

(Ed.: A little investigating on my part produced this list of plays –
9 to 5: The Musical – Judy Bernly
Singin’ in the Rain – Lina Lamont
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – Logainne Schwarzandgrubenniere
Don’t Dress for Dinner – Suzette
The Foreigner – Catherine Simms
Run for Your Wife – Mary Smith
The Sound of Music – Elsa Schraeder
Smoke on the Mountain – June Sanders
Always, Patsy Cline – Sarah Bob / fiddle / female understudy

A pretty impressive lot, I’d say!)

Sarah Hund as Elsa Schraeder (with Eddie Curry and David Schmittou) in B&B's  "The Sound of Music"

Sarah Hund as Elsa Schraeder (with Eddie Curry and David Schmittou) in B&B’s “The Sound of Music”

Q: So what is your favorite B&B role?

Sarah: I have two actually – Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain and Suzette in Don’t Dress for Dinner

Q: Which do you enjoy more – doing straight comedy roles or doing musical comedy?

Sarah: Hmm… I like them both! I love doing a good old farce, where the audience is just bursting at the seams with laughter. That sort of instantaneous feedback and energy from the crowd can be quite a rush. But when I do lots of non-musicals in a row, I definitely miss the music and singing. The best is when you can combine everything in one show – like The Buddy Holly Story. When I’ve done “Buddy”, I’ve gotten to play lots of different funny characters, sing, play the violin, and dance my face off. So much fun!

Q: Okay, final question: what is your next project?

Sarah: More shows at Beef and Boards – I’ll be playing June in Smoke on the Mountain and Fantine in Les Miserable later this season.

Q: Great – we’ll be looking forward to seeing more of you then! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Sarah.

Sarah: Oh, not at all, 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