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Jul 23rd

Excitement: Regina Marie Williams

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Excitement: Regina Marie Williams

Regina Marie Williams is, without a doubt, one of the Twin Cities' most exciting performers. And one has to marvel at how she stole up on audiences, building a solid reputation among theatre producers, after which she sprang on the unsuspecting public. The pantherish Williams has all the sinewy, lightning-strike power, gorgeous grace and natural beauty of a big cat.


Regina Marie Williams is, without a doubt, one of the Twin Cities' most exciting performers. And one has to marvel at how she stole up on audiences, building a solid reputation among theatre producers, after which she sprang on the unsuspecting public. The pantherish Williams has all the sinewy, lightning-strike power, gorgeous grace and natural beauty of a big cat.

The thumbnail sketch for those who haven't been around: in the late '80s, Regina Marie made a journeyman's living, picking up singing and acting gigs until she followed Thomasina Petrus in Syl Jones' Daughters of Africa, touring Midwest high schools in Mixed Blood Theatre's production that sketched the lives of historic Black women. Williams then was tapped by Penumbra Theatre to play opposite company veteran James Craven in Gus Edward's Louie & Ophelia, whereupon she promptly blew the walls off the place. Shortly thereafter, when Penumbra needed a ringer to compete with Jevetta Steele's runaway hit Two Queens, One Castle at Mixed Blood, Williams got a showcase vehicle that could've been tailored for her. She was cast as Dinah Washington in Dinah Was, again tore up everything and everyone, leaving galvanized crowds and gushing critics in her wake. She's been a star ever since, performing at The Guthrie, Jungle Theater, Park Square Theatre and more. Recently she is a 2006-2007 McKnight Theatre Artist Fellow.

Constantly on the go, Regina Marie Williams spared an early morning break – before being a dutiful mom to her two boys, then gearing for tech week in her current role in Dana Yeaton's Redshirts at Penumbra -- to speak with Insight News.

INSIGHT NEWS:
Who is your character in Redshirts and what does she mean to the story?

REGINA MARIE WILLIAMS:
The character I play is Dr. Charlene Bigelow, an English Professor at a Southern University where football is so valued that the coach earns a two million dollar annual salary. Professor Bigelow challenges the university athletic system that compromises and sacrifices education for the game by calling four running backs to the carpet for cheating on an assignment. The dilemma is, as an educator does she play the game, turn her head and pass the students anyway, or do the right thing and risk losing full professorship, tenure or her job by making waves? I don't think there is a bad guy in the play. It shows human sides and surprises in all the characters. As an audience, I think we care about everybody. But I will tell you that we had our first preview and I don't think Dr. Bigelow was liked very much.

IN:
Where've you been performing the last year?

RGW:
Earlier this year I performed a twelve-week run of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Although I missed my family and theater community, I had a great time spreading my wings. The adventure was successful. The show was great and the audiences were thrilled. At least that is what they told me when I'd come out after the show. I have been back in Minnesota since mid-May. I have been performing more private engagements lately which I really enjoy. During the summer I prefer my children to be my main focus rather than spending my Tuesday through Sunday at the theater.

IN:
What's up next for you?

RGW:
I really wanted to record the music from Lady Day but that did not work out for a number of reasons. The best time to record that type of music for me is when I am performing the show. I do hope to get another opportunity to perform it. My CD of spirituals, Feel the Spirit was released at the end of last year, and I have threatened to get a Christmas CD recorded. Ultimately what I would like to do is record some original music. There are several Twin-cities writers/composers I have in mind.

IN:
Any idea when you'
 

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