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OU Graduate and Will Rogers Follies Actress, Keleen Snowgren

When The Will Rogers Follies comes to Oklahoma City on January 17-22, it will also be a bit of a homecoming for cast member Keleen Snowgren (pictured below). A 2004 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Snowgren was a musical theater star with roles in such shows as Cabaret, Jesus Christ Superstar and Hello Dolly!. She also played Tracy in Lyric Theater's 2005 production of I Want My '80's Musical.

After graduation, she moved to New York City to persue her acting career, quickly earning the part of Ziegfeld's Favorite in The Will Rogers Follies national tour. I spoke with Snowgren about the musical extravaganza, Grammy Award-winning co-star Larry Gatlin and life in the Big Apple as she prepared for her return trip to OKC.

About OKC: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I guess you're in the middle of traveling all over the nation.

Snowgren: Yes. That's my favorite part too. There's so many people in such a small space, and the really neat thing is that we might load the bus at 4:30 in the morning, still really tired. So, they've got people with little beds set up on the floor of the buses and bodies are sprawled all over the place, and everybody's just taking a nap and sleeping. That's my favorite part. I think it's really fun and funny.

About OKC: Sounds like quite an experience. So tell me a bit about the show.

Snowgren: Well, the show is about Will Rogers, who is a worldy-known humorist, columnist, movie star, Broadway star, the story of his life and how he influenced the world. He's this fun-loving, great character who would entertain people just by what he would read in the papers. It had a sense of truth to it, and he was honest. The show has spectacular lights and breathtaking costumes that were originally used in the 1991 Broadway production. Our set is this giant staircase that has the VersaTube lightings on it, so it's a character in itself just because it's got a lot of influence on what's happening on stage.

About OKC: How about your part, Ziegfeld's Favorite?

Snowgren: Ziegfeld's Favorite is the Producer, Florenz Ziegfeld's, favorite showgirl. She's this womanly character that has a lot of class and elegance, but she knows what she wants and how to get it. So, she does have a little trick behind her belt. I think I have a lot in common with her. She has a love for performing and she's got a lot of confidence on stage. We both have larger than life personalities, and we know how to have fun.

About OKC: Sounds like a really enjoyable character to play.

Snowgren: Oh absolutely. It's just so fun because, it might be simple but I get to move the show along. I have signs that I carry across stage that might say "Will is at 13 years of age now" and then it might be a certain number of years later. It just helps inform the audience about where we are in his story. But what's fun about it is that I might be just standing there holding this little sign, but I can relate to everybody in the audience and give them little winks, just a little bit of spunk to make them giggle a little bit. I think it's great. It's a good time when you get to look at somebody while they're watching the show and if they happen to catch your eye, and you give a little wink and they get a little embarrassed. That's fun.

About OKC: What about the challenges of playing her? Any difficulties?

Snowgren: Yes, I think that she's someone who knows how to get what she wants, if you know what I mean. I personally wouldn't do that, but it's fun. It's not anything that's very difficult. But her job in the show appears to be very simple, but as an actor, there are times when I have to run offstage, change costumes, grab different props. And it's so specific on what count you walk in on. That's the technical part which is difficult, but the performing itself is enjoyable.

About OKC: So the show is very technically demanding, requiring a lot of precision in the performance.

Snowgren: Absolutely. And it was diffcult at first. It was hard to memorize what exactly I was supposed to be doing. I felt like I was running around backstage like a chicken with my head cut off. But after doing it so many times, it just comes naturally now, and you'll find time to take a breath and to really enjoy it. You could play with the audience a bit more. That was when it started to become a lot of fun.

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