Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Music Theatre Performance
Year of graduation: 1996
Oh, What a Night: Alumna Kara Tremel on a decade with Jersey Boys
Imagine standing behind the curtain, as the lights go up and the audience leans forward expectantly. It’s a role you’ve rehearsed to the bones, but tonight there’s a difference. The lights go up and you open your mouth to sing your part…in German. Or Korean. Or any of a multitude of languages spanning the globe as you bring your musical to audiences worldwide.
And then the next night you do it again. And again. And again.
In early 2017, music theatre graduate Kara Tremel wrapped up a triumphant run with Jersey Boys, a show she has been with in various incarnations for a decade. “It’s been my life – I’ve done almost every single production since I got hired in 2007,” she says. “Who knew I would be with them 10 years later?”
Growing up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Tremel started dancing at the age of two at the local Doris Sitter’s School of Dance in its tiny tots program. “As a child, I would dance around the living room to Sesame Street,” she remembers. “From then, I loved movement and creating and telling a story through dance without speaking.”
Eventually enrolling at Sheridan after high school, Tremel ended up leaving slightly early to understudy as Belle in Beauty and the Beast in Toronto – a role that she credits the professors with helping her obtain. “I remember running to school and telling Professor Christina James that I had an audition the next day and she immediately stopped everything she was doing and pulled me into a tutorial room to work on the material,” she says.
After a stint in Anne of Green Gables, Tremel travelled to Germany to perform in the Dusseldorf production of Grease as Frenchie. “The text was in German and the songs were in English, so we had to phonetically learn the lines, and I had to go out there and I had no idea what I was saying,” she laughs. “I still remember the lines that I hated the most, which were so very hard for me to say. (They) will never leave my brain.”
Tremel then performed in the Stuttgart production of Beauty and the Beast in an ensemble role. Although the show was completely in German, the source was a familiar one, and her costumes were flown over from the U.S. production. The experience with phonetics ended up being a useful one when Tremel returned to North America and landed a role as Mary Delgado in Jersey Boys (a show where three female actors play 52 different characters throughout, with Tremel playing 12).
Over the last decade, Tremel has been with Jersey Boys in Chicago, Las Vegas, two national tours, Korea, Malaysia and Broadway. She also moved behind the scenes as a swing and assistant dance captain, eventually becoming dance captain on tour. “I’ve been pretty much everywhere with that show, and I’ve had so many opportunities to grow with it,” she says. “I feel like it was kind of a transition for me, because I love to teach. So, having that opportunity to perform in the day and teach at night was awesome, and it gave me an education in so many different ways.”
Since the show wrapped in January 2017, Tremel has been teaching and transitioning into fitness, working in boutique studios in New York, as well as doing the choreography for shows and occasionally auditioning. “It’s been such a journey — you have the job of maintaining that feeling for 10 years. The hardest part of theatre and a long-running show is keeping your initial nervous excited vibe to the very last show,” she says. “I remember (Jersey Boys director) Des McAnuff telling us, ‘Remember, every time you go out to perform, it’s someone’s first time seeing the show or they’ve saved up to see the show, and you have to make it their special night’.”