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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Kimberly Hester: Dancer/Singer/Actress in The Producers

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 8, 2005
New York, NY

About the Author:

Kimberly Hester: Dancer/Singer/Actress in The Producers

Kimberly Hester

The Producers
The new Mel Brooks musical
(Producers Website)

Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan
Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th Street

Press: Barlow*Hartman

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 8, 2005

At Amarone Ristorante, a friendly Italian Trattoria, where one can dine on a wide variety of superb Italian cuisine, thanks to Tony, the Proprietor, who is ever present and ever attentive, and who hosts the Broadway cast of "The Producers" almost nightly, I interviewed Kimberly Hester, a dancer, singer, and actress in this glorious and timeless show over Chilean Sea Bass and Seafood Linguine. Amarone Ristorante is the place to go for drinks and before or after-theater dining. Ask Tony if you can say hello to a performer from "The Producers". My interview follows:

REZ: Tell me about your first audition.

KH: I auditioned in 2000 and have been in the show about four years. I had to sing and dance in the audition and sang, Put the Blame on Mame. Then I received a call back, and after being one of hundreds was one of ten. Susan Stroman picked me. I got a call from the Casting Director in August of 2000. We performed out of town at the Cadillac Palace Theater in Chicago, and early reviews were good. We opened in April 2001.

REZ: Which is your favorite song and dance number?

KH: I like the Producer Babe and Granny numbers. I wear black leather LaDuca shoes in the Granny number.

REZ: You wear several pairs of LaDuca shoes, I think.

KH: Yes, gold shoes, too. Those are my favorite shoes, because they have a great split sole. They are so comfortable, and they look fantastic. To maintain them, our wardrobe department adds new rubber and paints them whenever necessary.

REZ: How do you handle the transitions from the different casts of The Producers? Do the vibes change?

KH: We've been blessed with so many incredible people. First we had Mathew Broderick and Nathan Lane, who left about the same time, then Brad Oscar as Max and Stephen Weber as Leo, and then several other wonderful actors to follow. The choreography pretty much stays the same.

REZ: So for four years, you have had the same choreography.

KH: There have been minor changes. For example, you might have a step-step change to step-drag. Sometimes Susan Stroman comes back and has rehearsals with us, especially when we bring in a new star, but usually the associate choreographer will work with us on a regular basis.

REZ: When did you first decide that you wanted to be a dancer?

KH: When I was three years old, and I was at a ballet with my Mom in Pittsburgh, PA.

REZ: Tell me a bit about your early dancing lessons.

KH: At three, my Mom put me into gymnastics, ballet, and tap. By the age of seven, I knew I wanted to do it professionally, so I went to the dance school at Point Park College and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. I started taking class five days a week, ballet and pointe, and then at age nine I started coming to New York for two months every summer. I studied at the Joffrey Ballet School, the School of American Ballet, and Dance Theater of Harlem. I had really wonderful experiences studying in NY and in Pittsburgh.

My Mom lived here with me every summer, and my Dad was very supportive. My Dad is very happy with my success and goes to see all of my shows several times. When my Mom was alive, she went to see all my shows, too. Then I studied professional voice and started modeling a lot, between dancing and singing. I modeled for many designers in Paris, Japan, and Germany.

REZ: When did you first come to NY by yourself?

KH: I started coming to NY alone at about 18. I was already in college, and my family and Mom would still keep a close eye on me.

REZ: How long can you stay in one show?

KH: I know of a girl who was in one show for 17 years, almost the entire run. In shows like Les Miz and Phantom, people have the opportunity to stay for a very long time. This has been an incredible experience for me. Originally, when I got this show, I was about to move to LA to do television and film. I had already met an agent out there. But, when I got this, it was like a sign, because it came a few days before my birthday. I really don't want to move that far from my family, and I wanted to work with Susan Stroman again. The show completely exceeded my expectations. What a rewarding experience!

REZ: What would you like to see happen in the future?

KH: I would like to continue doing The Producers, but I always want to improve on myself. I hope this is a stepping-stone to something bigger and better. I would love to star in a show and to do more television and film. I am also a model with The Elite Modeling Agency and The Rick Miller Agency. I do fashion shows and print jobs, when they come up, if they do not conflict with my Producers schedule.

REZ: I can't imagine what it's like to be in a show every Friday night, then two shows on Saturday and then one on Sunday afternoon.

KH: I try to take good care of myself and get a lot of sleep. I like to get my rest and sleep eight to nine hours per night. It's such a part of my life now, and it's my fourth Broadway show. My company has been very generous with vacations and great benefits, and I'm in SAG and AFTRA and Equity. You usually get two weeks of vacation per year, and the salary is based on the minimum, plus whatever is negotiated or given to you through raises and extra duties.

For the first year and a half, I never took a vacation. Now I realize the importance of taking a vacation, and we have three incredible men and three incredible women, called swings, who do a great job and fill in for everybody. I have every Monday off, and I act like a tourist. I pace out my chores through the week, so I can truly enjoy my Mondays.

It's a wonderful job, that I love to do every single day.

Kimberly Backstage at The Producers
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Tony, Amarone Ristorante Owner, and Kimberly Hester
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Kimberly and Roberta
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Delicious Mussels and Clams
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Chilean Sea Bass Entrée
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

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