Merry-Go-Round Playhouse Spotlight
Welcome to the MGR Playhouse Spotlight! In these posts, you’ll learn about the numerous employees who create the shows you see in Auburn, and all over New York State! Each week, there will be new posts regarding our technical, production, and artistic employees. This week I sat down with FLMTF’s three-time returning actress, Gabi Stapula. Miss Stapula is currently starring in Guys and Dolls as Minnie (a Hotbox Dancer) and a member of the ensemble. In our interview, we discussed working with Broadway alumna Baayork Lee, covering the Guys and Dolls leading ladies, and baking pumpkin cakes!
Name: Gabi Stapula.
Where You’re From: Born in Lorton, Virginia, a small town outside of Washington D.C.
Job Title: Actor in the ensemble and understudy for Adelaide and Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls.
Previous MGR Experience: My first season was in 2015: I was cast as Velma in West Side Story and I was an ensemble member in Saturday Night Fever. Last year, I was an ensemble member/Laurie understudy for Oklahoma! and a showgirl in Crazy for You!
Previous Non-MGR Theatre Experience: Some highlights from my career so far have been A Chorus Line, directed by original Broadway cast member Baayork Lee, at Pace University. At Pace, I also starred in The Pajama Game. Other professional credits include Singin’ in the Rain at Ocean Professional Theatre Co., Saturday Night Live (dancer), and the Robin Hood Gala at Symphony Space (Dance Captain).
Favorite Part of Your Job: I would have to say creating communities and unity in the cast. Being able to work with wonderful people is the best part of any job!
Favorite Musical and Play: Ragtime and Our Town.
Someone at MGR You Admire: Do I have to pick one? There are two men at MGR that have really been big influences in my life: Parker Esse and Brett Smock.
Parker was a dance teacher of mine at Arena Stage in D.C., so I’ve known him for a long time. He’s was one of the main reasons why I decided to pursue musical theatre as a career. He also gave me my first job here at MGR when he directed West Side Story.
Brett Smock is a wonderful man who gave me my first family here at Merry-Go-Round. He is so welcoming and a big reason why everyone who comes to MGR loves being here.
Hobbies and Free Time: I love baking! I enjoy baking apple pies and in the fall I make a special pumpkin cake with vanilla frosting. I also enjoy exercising, crafting and running. Even though it’s my job, I love dancing. It’s such a great release and I’ve had amazing teachers like Sarah O’Gleby (Pace University) who taught me the joys and privileges of dance.
What You Love Most About Being in the Finger Lakes:
I love that it’s an oasis from the city. I love the historical aspects and the tourist attractions like the wine trails, Harriet Tubman’s house, and the Seward House.
What You’d Like to Do Next: After I finish Guys and Dolls I am going to St. Louis to work for The Muny! I will be in The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Newsies. After that, I will head back to New York where I will continue to audition and hope to be able to assist choreographers.
We’re so grateful to have Gabi here for her third year, and we wish her good luck in all future endeavors! Keep up the good work! You can see Gabi right now in Guys and Dolls, playing until June 28 at the Thomas H. Preston Theatre in the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse! Next week, we will be sitting down with an artistic team member of our upcoming production Parade, which opens July 5. Thanks for reading!