Originally written for the New Moon Women’s Circle website
UNSUNG HEROINE: GRETCHEN REINHAGEN
By day, she might seem like any other corporate executive assistant, but by night she has the power to make you laugh until you cry within an hour and a half. Unless you spend your time around the New York cabaret scene, you may not know Gretchen Reinhagen, but let me share with you a little about this talented storyteller and why you should get to know her and why she inspires me on a regular basis, not only as a director, but as a human being.
Gretchen is a multiple MAC (Manhattan Association of Clubs and Cabarets) Award winner for her performances and direction of several cabaret shows, an equity actress, and a vocal coach. She doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t want to perform. She remembers singing along with her dad in the car and him teaching her to sing and harmonize. School choirs, bands, plays, and community theatre continued to ignite her desire to perform and led to her getting a degree in vocal performance, to teaching, and then pursuing her own dreams professionally.
Her favorite roles have included: Nancy in Oliver!, the narrator in Joseph in the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Janis Joplin in Beehive, Louise Segar in Always, Patsy Cline, and Miss Hannigan in Annie. She loves that she has had the opportunity to play strong, dynamic women, and dreams of continuing to do so in the future. She dreams of playing iconic roles including: Mama Rose in Gypsy or Mame or Vera in Mame among others. She would also love to play the roles of Baruska in Once and Mrs. Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
She has found many joys to fill her life. “Making people laugh really turns me on,” she explains. “So does singing. Being on stage and being in that zone and knowing your audience is right there with you. Watching a student ‘get it’ or seeing a client soar in a performance are also great joys.” But she also keeps herself grounded by remembering that her friends, family, “the Sassy Cat”, and her wife are her “truest treasures”.
She remembers these things as she deals with her daily struggles. She says the hardest thing for her on stage and in life is, “remembering that I’m already enough.” When performing she has to “constantly remind myself to just be in the moment and just say the words…Otherwise, I’ll overact or push too hard.” “I find the idea of ‘already being enough’ to be applicable in my personal and teaching life as well. It’s certainly advice I give to my clients, but I also have to remind myself to just explore with my clients, and be in the moment with them, and be where they’re at, because everyone has their own unique vision, and everyone is at a different place in their artistic journey.”
She takes this philosophy and shares it with the young women around her as well as these other words of wisdom, “Work hard, play hard, love hard. But let go of rigidity. Your views on things will change as you age and that’s more than ok. But it’s also ok right now to be open to new ideas or new views, while at the same time taking advantage of the wisdom of what and who came before. “If it ain’t broke”, as they say… And don’t spend too much time on regret, if you can help it. Life chapters don’t always have neat and tidy endings, but that’s all just the experience of life. You don’t have to fix it, or wish you’d tried it another way. Our job, as I see it, is to keep moving, keep loving, and keep growing.”
There are many cabaret acts out there of varying degrees, but one of the best is Gretchen Reinhagen. I highly recommend catching her next performance, and it’s going to be exciting to see her next theatrical endeavor. She also has a CD that will be released in early 2019 called: Take It With Me. For more information about this talented, intelligent, funny woman, check out her website at: http://gretchenreinhagen.com/.