PHOTO: FRED LOPEZ
This is the first in a series of articles featuring talent from local theaters.
In the fall of 1948, a group of theater enthusiasts met to discuss starting a community theater. They found a former ice plant in Mount Dora that offered perfect acoustics, and The IceHouse Players had their first performance on Feb. 7, 1949, with “Return Engagement.” Thanks to land being donated by the municipality, the group was able to build the current theater, which seats 270. It opened with a production of “The Solid Gold Cadillac” in the fall of 1958. Major renovations were done in 2011 thanks in part to a gift from The Sonnentag Foundation. The current show is “Becky’s New Car,” which stars actress Laurie Sullivan.
Though Laurie Sullivan is originally from Manhattan and lived for many years on Long Island, she has called central Florida home since 1999. She lives in Sorrento with her husband Lee Childers and their son Nathan, 7.
Laurie got her BSA in musical theater from a college in upstate New York. She spent five years doing summer stock, working in children’s theater, and with tour companies. “I began to work on cruises. That’s where I met my husband, as a performer on a cruise ship,” Laurie says. “We took a couple of years off right after we met, and then he began working for Princess Cruises. I actually had my own show on the ship very briefly until I found out I was pregnant and had to take another break.”
Plans to be a performer were always a part of Laurie’s dreams. She began taking voice lessons while in eighth grade and continued taking them through college. She took dance in college, but didn’t focus on it. She freely admits, “I’m lucky that I’m pretty coordinated.”
Her favorite part in a play was playing the baker’s wife in “Into the Woods.”
“It was a lot of fun and a great production, a really fun role to play,” Laurie says. “I was so thrilled to do it. We had gorgeous costumes, and everything came together, so it was a wonderful experience at the IceHouse.” When Nathan was three, Laurie auditioned for IceHouse and has been doing performances at the theater for about four years.
“It’s a nice hobby for me,” Laurie says. “It’s something I love to do, but it’s not a fulltime job. I take care of my son and get to travel.” She homeschools Nathan so they can travel with Lee when the opportunity arises. “We like living in Sorrento because it’s a little bit of both worlds. There’s lots of farmland, but we live in a nice development and have lots of friends here,” Laurie says. “With my husband’s travel, we could live anywhere, but we love it here.”
Last year Laurie put together a production called, “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” which features four girls at their senior prom in 1958. “We performed the show at The IceHouse in 2012, and I thought it would work really well on ships. We sang great songs like ‘Sand Man,’ ‘Lollipop,’ and ‘Cupid, Cupid.’ It was so much fun to do, and we were hired to do it for a ship, but the show was cancelled.”
Laurie actually wrote her one-woman cabaret show, which she did on her husband’s ship last summer. “I got to sing with an actor from West End [London], which is the equivalent of a Broadway star over here. I pulled a bunch of songs that I enjoy singing, and put a lot of patter between songs, which my husband helped me write,” Laurie says. “It’s a 35-minute show with songs like ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade,’ and ‘Somewhere’ from “West Side Story,” and I did ‘Let It Go’ from “Frozen.” I did ‘Man of La Mancha,’ which is written for a male character, but I have a very nice version for a female. It’s quite a workout, but I love it.”