Alumna Q&A: Actress and singer Kimberly Marable ’05
Kimberly Marable ’05 graduated from Dartmouth with a major in theater modified with sociology. After graduation and a brief internship at Northern Stage, she moved to New York City and has performed in a number of national tours of Broadway productions, including “Hairspray” and “The Book of Mormon.” She is currently performing in her second Broadway show, “The Lion King.” She co-founded and co-directs an organization called Broadway Serves, which coordinates community service projects involving members of the professional theater community.
What have you been doing since you’ve graduated from Dartmouth? Can you tell me a little about your theater career?
KM: I decided my senior spring that as opposed to being a performer, I wanted to be a producer. I went across the river to Northern Stage and was their company management intern for a season after graduating, and that was a very eye-opening experience. I think what I learned most about myself and about how I needed to approach my career by being in Northern Stage was that I have to either do it or not at all. So everything had to be very strategic and I had to make investments in my career, whether it was taking dance lessons or voice lessons or acting classes or sessions with casting directors or making a website — all sorts of things. So that was 10 years ago. Since then I’ve really hit the ground running with auditions, and after a few months was very fortunate to have my first paid job. I had done a few free theater productions, which I guess everybody kind of does. Since then I’ve done about five national tours.
What are some of the challenges of being a professional actress?
KM: Well there’s many, and I think it really boils down to employment, which I’ve been very, very fortunate to not have that be a huge issue for me, but I know that it is a huge issue because there are only so many jobs and there are literally thousands upon thousands of people all wanting the same jobs. So I would say in a good way, the challenge is to know who you are as a person and to know what you’re good at and to keep those skills sharp while also gaining new skills and being a well-rounded person and artist. I would say part of the challenge, not in an artistic sense but in a life sense, is saving your money. I’m very thankful that my dad is in finance and when he realized that I actually really do want to be an actor, he was like, “Ok, so how are we going to make this a business and not a hobby.”
Has there been any significant changes to the theater industry since you’ve been a part of it?
KM: Well, I think we’re kind of on the cusp of it. The big show that everyone is talking about is “Hamilton,” and I think they’ve done something not new per se, because I know for sure that there are many theater companies and shows across the country and the world who are telling stories with multicultural casts. The suspension of disbelief is a widely used thing in theater, and we expect the audience and all of us to come to the theater and look at a production and say, “Ok, these are the players who are telling us this story no matter what they look like.” But that being said, I do not believe, until “Hamilton” really, that that has been a presence on the Broadway stage, where principal performers are played by non-white actors. And I’d even go further to say, non-male actors because the presence of female principal roles is lacking as well. So that’s been very exciting to notice, and I really hope that that continues, where we value story-telling for what it is, just telling the human experience no matter what people look like.
What inspires you to keep pursuing theater?
KM: I like to do it, and that’s a huge inspiration because I think it’s fun and I enjoy it. I get to show other people who may want to do theater as a living that it’s possible for someone who looks like me to do it professionally. I know that that was important for me when I was growing up. The first show that my parents took me to on Broadway was “Aida,” and just seeing her, the strong, unapologetically black woman. Literally she was the show. She was the title character, and that was super exciting and inspiring and I’d love to be that for other people as well. Also in general, I think theater is a great way for people to experience the human experience without having to go through it themselves. They’re watching it, and it’s a great form of escapism, especially with the climate of the world we live in now. And it can be escapism in the best of ways. You have a fun goofy show about silly things to make us laugh, or we can use it was a lens to reflect what is happening in the world without having to physically go through it. And in both of those senses, I really do believe that theater has the power to change lives and that makes me very happy to participate in it.
This Q&A has been condensed for length and clarity.