Katie Sapper speaks in a melodious voice, talking a mile a minute, and slipping into various dialects. She’s a character.
In fact, since graduating from Saint Mary’s University with a theatre degree in 2014, she’s been portraying characters non-stop on stages around San Diego, Calif.
Her longest break from the spotlight has been three weeks.
With a lengthy résumé and several world premieres under her belt at places like Lambs Players, Scripps Ranch Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse, Sapper says she’s been incredibly fortunate. “Saint Mary’s did a great job of preparing me for going out into the real world,” she said.
Sapper described a current acting world where she is constantly reviewing new work, staying up late, realizing the next day that lines have changed, and then hunkering down and doing some quick memorization.
“Saint Mary’s gave the skills to do that,” she said. “The sole reason why I am able to memorize as quickly as I do is because of the two-week intensive I did at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin that was part of our London Study-Abroad Program.”
She’s currently involved in a world premiere musical of “Oz,” portraying Glinda, and when that curtain falls, she’ll move right into a period piece titled, “American Christmas.”
She’s also guest teaching Shakespeare and Greek theatre to high-schoolers at Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego. Again, she credits her experience assisting with a theatre class at Saint Mary’s for helping to prepare her for this role.
If she has any advice for upcoming thespians, she answers, “My advice, literally, is go to Saint Mary’s, say yes to everything, and observe everything.”
Sapper said she stumbled on Saint Mary’s after auditioning at the International Thespian Festival in Nebraska. After hearing professor Gary Diomandes talk about the beauty of the campus and the opportunity to travel to London as part of the program, she was sold.
“The top five things I wanted was to go to school away from California to experience something different (I had never seen a silo before.); to find a theatre program that would not prevent me from auditioning for shows when I was a freshman; to study abroad, particularly in London; to go to a co-ed college; and to find a place where people were friendly. I just fell in love with how supportive everyone was but at same time how strong the program was.”
Sapper immediately immersed herself in shows including her favorites: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” which taught her about audience participation and how to improvise; “Playboy of the Western World,” which gave her an opportunity to work with an Irish dialect; and “Spitfire Grill,” and “Necessary Targets,” in which she played rich characters including an ex-prison inmate and an elderly Bosnian refugee—roles that were radically different from her usual roles as a musical theatre student.
She was also involved in the Second Page Comedy Troupe, sang in choirs, and was involved with nearly every extracurricular opportunity college life provided. Saint Mary’s, she said, taught her the importance of constantly learning and taking advantages of opportunities to hone her skills.
“Every day I’m constantly working, checking local auditions, taking voice lessons,” she said. “It doesn’t just happen that you sit in a coffee shop and get discovered.”
Sapper says it’s important to network and make connections and, most importantly, to be grateful.
“I just tell myself, ‘You’re meant to get the jobs you’re meant to get. God has a plan for me.’ Constantly remind yourself to have an attitude of gratitude.”
*Photo credit: Ken Jacques from “The Lion in Winter” at Moonlight State Productions