UTBA: Start off by stating your name and what role you’re playing at Shakespeare Festival, please.
Mindy Young: My name is Mindy Young and I am playing Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt in Anything Goes.
UTBA: Tell us about your background and your training you’ve had to play this role.
Young: Well, it’s funny—I acutally did this show in high school. So I’ve always loved this show and felt delighted when I got to be part of it. My training is actually in theatre education and directing. I have a BFA in Theatre Ed from the U. of U. and an MFA in directing from the U. of U., and have been a producer and a director for years and years. I’m a mom with five kids—five boys—so directing and teaching has been much more suitable to my lifestyle. So this feels like a special treat—to be living in Cedar City and be able to be part of this festival as an actor. It literally feels like “Mama’s playtime, everybody! Stand back!”
UTBA: How long has it been since you were in a show?
Young: I’ve done special shows for friends or, like, silly LDS movies, or things like that for friends throughout the years. Two years ago I was in The Music Man here as well. I was Alma Hicks. One of the Pick-a-Little Ladies. It was a blast. To be something—to be part of something this quality and this professionally run— Every minute of my time is utilized. You know, when my time is so tight with kids and work—to be able to come here and just know: Okay, we’re going to be on the spot and get things done—it’s beautiful.
UTBA: What’s the audition process like for a repertory theatre like USF?
Young: Well, thankfully, you don’t get an audition unless they’re atually wanting to look at you. You send in your application with a headshot and resume. And then they kind of go through there and see the kind of need they have for that season, and what they’re looking at. And you usually send in a video. I was here, so I was able to just come in and talk to them. But that’s the most delightful thing, when you get, “Can you come in?” “Yes! Yes, I can come in! I can do anything you want.”
UTBA: Are you aware of how many people you’re competing against for a role?
Young: I’m not. And I know that because they are casting so many shows at one time—I know that it’s just juggling. And I don’t think I would take it personally if I don’t get in because I know it’s not easy to get in here. And I know that it’s just what they need. You know, here I am, playing a 65-year-old woman and it’s great. In fact, Reg Palmer and I—he’s another guy. He’s from Vernal, Utah—and he’s in Anything Goes as the purser. We were laughing, because he’s really young. He’s only twenty-five. And I’m saying, “I love that we’re playing the oldies.” And he said, “I’ll play. I’ll do anything if I can just play.” And that’s how I feel. How old do you need me to be? No problem. Just to be lucky enough to play. In fact, during curtain call of our preview, people were so loving and standing and standing and standing. And I thought, “Oh, I love you people.” But I literally was bowing and thinking, “Am I—Is this really happening? Am I here, at the Utah Shakespeare Festival?” You know, when you grow up in Utah and you want to be your whole life—and to be able to be is just precious.
UTBA: Anything Goes is a musical that has been around for a while. You mentioned having done it before. How do you make your performance fresh when so many people have played this role before you? How do you bring something unique to what you’re doing?
Young: Well, I haven’t seen it recently. I’ve really seen a lot of high school productions. I haven’t seen the Broadway production. This has been enormously new and fresh. The set is spectacular. The lighting design is so interesting and inventive. All of the actors I’m working with are so over-the-top amazing that they are new and fresh. It doesn’t compare with anything I’ve done before.
UTBA: You’ve talked about how you had a pretty receptive audience at your first preview. What do you want audiences to get out of this show?
Young: Just to have fun. This is literally a musical farce. It’s Cole Porter music and tap dancing. You can go watch King John and really feel—feel for Constance. But here you don’t feel; you just enjoy.
UTBA: Just tap your toes.
Young: Yeah, tap your toes along and sing along and laugh your head off.
UTBA: So tell us what you do exactly as Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt. Tell us exactly what her part in the play is.
Young: It’s interesting. I was playing it more like me, really crazy and over the top, and Brad Carroll, our director who is a genius—said, “Mindy, I appreciate you, but I want you to do a complete 180. I want you to be the angriest, most straight-laced, tight-laced mother of the bride. And I want you to be nit-picking everything. So when she does come loose, then it’s funny.” And I’m thining, “You’re right; that is funnier.” It’s so amazing to be directed. I’m a director, but it’s difficult to direct your own self. So it was amazing to have such a great director and to pinpoint exactly where to go. So I start out very tight-laced and “Neh.” Then I get wilder and crazier. And my dog goes through all these mishaps and gets shaved and gets in the pool. It gets sillier and sillier as it goes. I think the ship is sinking once and I have to come out with, “Do I have time to get my jewelry?” “Yes, if you hurry.” So I come back and wear two huge life vests that are put together so it looks like I have this big Elizabethan collar life vest. And then they bedazzled the schmack out of it. There are more jewels than you can imagine. And I have a huge tiara. And I come out, “Where’s the life boat?” It’s just one more sight gag. The lines are funny, the sight gags are funny— it’s just silly.
UTBA: And that’s what you guys want to do: bring out the silliness, get people to laugh.
UTBA: Sounds like everyone pulled out all the stops for that.
Young: It’s fun—even though I’m the older, matronly character I’m still as crazy as everyone, so it’s fun.
UTBA: You’ve worked with Brad Carroll before, correct?
Young: Well, Brad—his show Lend Me a Tenor went to London. So he actually had to go to London, and his musical director, Jeremy Mann, came in. Jeremy is our music director on this, and also our conductor for the orchestra. He’s a genius. He’s adorable and kind. So with The Music Man I was working with Jeremy.
UTBA: So mostly with Jeremy.
Young: Yeah, this was my first time with Brad, and he’s a hoot.
UTBA: What other people have you been reunited with from The Music Man from two years ago?
Young: Rhett [Guter]! My gosh. Rhett Guter is a literal genius. I think he’s going to be one of those people in the history books, and I’m not kidding. He’s so young and so talented. He was our choreographer and he’s playing a sailor, but he’s also Peter in Peter and the Starcatcher, and choreographed that as well. He has an eye for storytelling with movement and with character. It’s exciting what he can do. We’re so lucky to have him
UTBA: Who else?
Young: Max [Robinson] was our mayor in The Music Man. And Max is so funny. He’s Moon-faced Martin in this show, and he’s hilarious. It has been so fun to work with Max again.
UTBA: Let’s talk a little bit about the script. You said it’s this farce—a musical farce. The Festival is doing the revised version of the script, not the original Anything Goes script.
Young: I think this script has been through several variations because it’s nothing like the one I did in high school. And I don’t think it’s the same one they’re doing in New York right now. It’s like a 1987—the Patti LuPone version or something. In fact, the song “Friendship” in the one I was in twenty-five years ago had three characters in it, and this time it only has two, Moon and Reno. But it works; it’s so adorable. In fact, it’s hilarious. And Reno [Melinda Parrett]—oh my gosh, she’s a star. She’s like, “Tap tap tap, and I’m not out of breath at all.” Then she belts this huge number, and I’m thinking, “How are you doing all this?” She is such a star.
UTBA: So you’re happy with the version of the script they’ve picked?
Young: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It’s delightful and fun.
UTBA: It’s delightful, it’s de-lovely…”
Young: It’s delicious. (Singing)“It’s de-lovely.” Yes.
UTBA: How is working for the Shakespeare Festival different from other companies you’ve worked for in the past?
Young: Honestly, everything is so well run. I was teasing the staff saying, “It’s like Disneyland! Even the flowers are beautiful! Everything is beautiful! Everything is perfectly well done!” And it is. Like I said, they don’t waste a minute of our time. Our stage management team is so precise. All the different talent that we interact with—production staff, or acting staff, or directing staff—it’s just awesome. And yet, we’re free that we can go and talk to someone if we have a concern. I haven’t. It’s very friendly, but very professional.
UTBA: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the show, or your experience here?
Young: I grew up for so many years literally only coming down here for Shakespeare competition. We always came in October. I didn’t realize the incredible opportunity we have as Utahns to be here, at this quality of theatre. To experience Southern Utah and experience so much talent. I hope that people will jump on down. It’s worth it.
UTBA: Sounds like a classic Utah story: You grew up hearing up the show, doing the Shakespeare competition, and now you’re here.
Young: I know! Yes. It’s so fun. It’s awesome.
UTBA: Where were you at before? Were you in Salt Lake?
UTBA: And your husband is working for the university?
Young: Yes, my husband works for the Outdoor Engagement Center here at SUU and I teach English as a Second Language here at the university. It’s fun.
UTBA: I wasn’t sure if you were teaching at the university.
Young: Yeah. That’s a story in itself. I teach all Saudi Arabians, and that—yeah. I use a lot of theatre games. Theatre fun. I’m writing a book with some professors at BYU: a theatrical approach to language learning. Because what’s more fun than doing a play? And what causes more language, right? It feels like the perfect fit for me here in Cedar City.