Alumni Spotlight: Kate Baldwin ('93)
Shorewood’s Broadway Belle
With such a reputable and high-achieving performing arts program, it’s no wonder Shorewood has ties not only to Hollywood, but the Great White Way, as well. Broadway belle Kate Baldwin, class of 1993, got her start as an actress and singer right here on the Shorewood stage. Originally from Evanston, IL, Baldwin moved to Shorewood when her father was offered a job at Milwaukee’s Marine Bank in 1982. She entered the Shorewood School District as a second grader at Atwater Elementary.
During her time at SHS, Baldwin was widely involved in the drama program. Her credits include roles as Eliza Dolittle in 1991’s My Fair Lady, Cinderella in a 1992 production of Into the Woods, and Eva Peron in Evita, something Baldwin considers a highlight of her high school acting career. At the time, retired Drama Director Barbara Gensler, Technical Theater Director Gary Pruett, costumer Alice Pollock, and pit conductor Marlin Pendleton were the principal educators involved in putting together approximately five productions a year.
“They required commitment, teamwork and a pursuit of excellence from their students,” Baldwin reflected. “I remember devoting time after school and most weekends to rehearsing and working on the productions. I loved every minute of it.”
Baldwin’s involvement in the performing arts was not confined to the Shorewood High School stage. She also participated in the Wisconsin Conservatory Children’s Chorus for six years prior to high school, as well as a student ensemble called Prism through the Shorewood studio, Dance Spectrum. Like most early performers, Baldwin also put on shows at home.
“As a child, I put on plays in my basement and read a lot and wrote short stories. I found storytelling, music, and choreography fascinating. I still do.”
Baldwin flexed her storytelling muscles by taking part in the SHS school newspaper, Ripples, as well as Pegasus literary arts magazine. She was also a flutist in the marching band. However, it was storytelling through singing and acting that held true for Baldwin into adulthood.
After graduating from SHS, Baldwin enrolled at Northwestern University, where she performed in roles such as Trina in Falsettos, and the titular role in the Greek tragedy, Hecuba. Her Broadway credits include starring as Sandra Bloom in Big Fish, Helen in Wonderful Town, and supporting parts in Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Full Monty. Baldwin’s 2009 turn as Sharon McLonergan in Finian’s Rainbow netted her a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
“My favorite role I’ve ever played was Leslie Benedict in Giant,” Baldwin said. “[Giant] was a musical that ran three years ago at the Public Theater in New York. For me, that piece had everything: a compelling story with real human struggle at its center, told through gorgeous music.”
At present, Baldwin is starring in the 20th anniversary production of John & Jen at New York’s Keen Company.
“It is a two-person musical that tells the story of a brother and sister in the first act and in the second, the story shifts to that of a mother and son relationship. It's vocally demanding and requires a lot of energy and stamina,” Baldwin says.
Not only does she have a solid Broadway and off-Broadway repertoire under her belt, but Baldwin also boasts two solo albums, and does occasional vocal performances. Next up for the chanteuse is a production of Bells are Ringing at the Berkshire Theater Festival this summer, where she will star opposite her husband, fellow performer Graham Rowat. The two also have a four-year old son named Colin.
Though she now calls New York City home, Baldwin has fond memories of Shorewood.
“My experience at Shorewood taught me the values of discipline, respect for others, and how to have your own standards. Those are things that help later in life, regardless of what career you’re pursuing.”
For more about Kate Baldwin, including performance clips and critic reviews, please visit www.kate-baldwin.com.
Tuesday May, 2 at 12:59PM
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