FREEPORT – Kelly Caufield, who has been singing since she was a child, will perform “Legends: The Music of Judy Garland,” on April 4 and 5 at the Theater of Awesome in Freeport.
Caufield, the director of vocal music at Hebron Academy, will sing many of Garland’s best-known songs, including a couple of medleys – one devoted to her movie music and one devoted to her Gershwin recordings.
The singer and actress, a Portland resident, says she began her career in her childhood living room “with a hairbrush as her microphone and her family and friends as her audiences.”
She eventually made her way to the Schoolhouse Arts Center in Standish, where she spent the majority of her adolescence doing as many musicals as she possibly could.
As a music student in college, she studied musical theater voice using classical/operatic techniques with Ellen Chickering at the University of Southern Maine School of Music.
In 2001, Caufield auditioned for Brian P. Allen at Portland Players for a production of “Side Show.”
“The following years are a beautiful blur of concerts and productions with the College Light Opera Company, the Boothbay Opera House, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, The North Shore Philharmonic, and Portland’s Good Theater,” Caufield said.
Most recently, Caufield and her long-time artistic partners, Brian P. Allen and Victoria Stubbs, have created the “Legends” series, which chronicle the musical life of a legendary performer and premiered last spring at Biddeford City Theater, highlighting Garland’s music.
Caufield recently talked with the Tri-Town Weekly about music and about Judy Garland.
Q: How did you get into the entertainment business, and how old were you?
A: I started doing commercials when I was about 10 years old. My first commercial was for Channel 6, and it went straight to my head! When they began running it on TV, I remember feeling very special.
Q: What type of writing do you do?
A: I don’t consider myself a “writer” per se; however, I do enjoy the conceptual process of writing small, original cabaret shows that can be performed in a variety of venues.
Q: How did you become interested in Judy Garland?
A: Judy Garland was an early vocal inspiration for me. The first time I heard her sing “Trolley Song” in the movie, “Meet Me in St. Louis,” I knew that I wanted to train myself to have that kind of power in my singing.
Q: What is your favorite Judy Garland song?
A: There are so many! It’s a tie between “Over the Rainbow” and “Smile.” Both have lyrics that cut right to the heart of me and I can’t help but have an emotional connection when singing them. Also, both songs were favorites of my Grammy Caufield who, before she passed away, had requested I sing both at her funeral when the time came.
Q: What is your favorite Judy Garland movie?
A: I do love “Meet Me In St. Louis,” but I have to say that even as an adult I can’t get enough of “The Wizard of Oz.”
Q: Do you to imitate Judy Garland or is it just Kelly Caufield singing Judy Garland songs? Is there a “story” you tell, too?
A: I knew from the very beginning that I didn’t want this show to be a caricature of Judy Garland. I didn’t want to try and “be” her. I wanted this show to be a celebration of her music and that’s all. I tell a lot of stories in the show. It’s really important to me to have convey information they may know already, but to pair it with stories they may not know.
Q: What is there for musical accompaniment?
A: It’s just me and piano accompaniment. Victoria Stubbs is my accompanist. However, in the past we have done the show with piano, bass and drums and are still able to do that for larger venues.
Q: Do you dance?
A: There is strategic movement and blocking, but no formal choreography. It’s a very small, simple cabaret show. Therefore, the need for choreography is not great.
Q: How many performances do you do a year, and where?
A: I’m really lucky to do six-12 performances a year. I’m also a full-time music teacher, so it’s a balancing act. But it’s worth it.
Q: What other types of shows do you do?
A: For most of my childhood I did musicals. I fell in love with them mostly because it was a way to express myself that I didn’t always feel comfortable doing in real life. I enjoy solo singing with orchestras and doing my cabaret-style entertaining, but my first love will always be musical theater.
A CLOSER LOOK
“Legends: The Music of Judy Garland,” with Kelly Caufield, will be performed Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, April 5, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., at Freeport Theater of Awesome, 5 Depot St. For tickets, see www.theaterofawesome.com or call 675-4000.