Behind The Scenes

Memories From My Early 20s: Illusion Theater & Young Dreams

The-Benefits-Of-LavenderSometimes, the best part of leaving home…. is going back home.

Recently, I went home for a trip to do some work with the theater I began my professional career –  Illusion Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was a young mother and wife in my early twenties, but I was also a woman with a long standing dream of being an actor, and on a quest to make that dream come true.

I was fortunate to have a supportive husband and parents who all cheered me on as I moved towards my goals.

It was this aspiration that brought me to Illusion Theater.

I began at the theater doing touring plays. We, the company of actors, would pack ourselves into a van and travel all over Minnesota doing plays about workplace diversity.

We went from one end of the state to the other doing 3 shows a day in the dead of winter and I loved every minute of it.

After that, I did my first play on the main stage of the theater.

I’d done small plays in high school, but to finally be a professional actor working on one of the finest stages in the country was a dream come true for me.

This achievement didn’t come without a lot of work and focus. I would get up early, devote time to my family and then get to the theater for hours of rehearsal into the night, then head back home again to be with my husband and daughter.

More often than not, my 3 year old daughter Aja would trek with me to and from the theater. I would pack a lunch and dinner for both of us along with activities for her and she would sit in the corner and play and watch her mother learn lines, blocking, dancing and songs.

At the end of the day, we would pack up our things, get in our cold little car, and head back home.

After that first show, I went on to do several more shows with the theater – it’s now a running joke at the theater that that was the “Elise Season” because I did so many back-to-back shows there.

It was a lot of hard work, but it was also some of the most magical times of my life and career.

Kimberly-Illusion-1

And I know, without a doubt, it was all those hours of working at Illusion that I learned to be an actor.

Simply put, I would not be the actor that I am today without the experience I gained on that big, beautiful stage.

The family I created there, headed by the founder and director of the theater Michael Robins and Bonnie Morris, believed in me as an artist before anyone in the world knew my name.

Though I haven’t done a show at Illusion in many years now, and I’m glad I chose to spread my wings and fly. I am grateful and blessed to have had such a magical and loving place to always call a home.

Are you based in Minnesota? Find out what’s current playing onstage at Illusion Theater!


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5 comments

  1. CHRISTOPHER says:

    Thank you for this insight! I have been seeing a lot of you lately and reminded of how broad of spectrum your talent covers! When I say I love you, I do appreciate the work you’ve put into your craft. “I FEEL YA” you inspire!

  2. Jen Patti says:

    Hello Kimberly (although I think it was Elise when we knew each other),
    I don’t know if you remember me. I was the moderator/educator on those shows and we traveled together often. It was fun reading your piece and remembering that time of my life.Those shows were crazy! I hope hope Aja is doing well. I don’t even want to know how old she is now!! It’s been great watching you in movies and TV. I’m so happy you’ve had a successful career. You are very talented.
    All the best,
    Jen Patti (now Duffy)

  3. Vanessa Williams says:

    it is inspiring to hear you talk about starting and the support you got, in my thirties, I still dream of singing my heart out on the big stage with no courage to actually do it but , cheers to you and to humility.

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