SALT LAKE CITY — As a part of the preparation for the world premiere of Shucked, the new musical with a book by Robert Horn and music and lyrics by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, on October 28 at the Pioneer Theatre Company, I had the chance to have a conversation with Caroline Innerbichler, who stars as Maizy. Utah theatre audiences will recognize her as Anna from the national tour of Frozen that visited Salt Lake City in October of 2021.
As Ms. Innerbichler and I began our conversation, I asked her about her background in theater, which led to a wonderful discussion of community and art. Innerbichler was raised in the Minneapolis area and found a home and chosen family at a community theatre company attached to the local high school in Eagan, Minnesota. She said that her first experience was as an ensemble member in Annie in elementary school.
From there, Innerbichler’s love of theatre grew. She described a childhood of growing up listening to cast albums with her sister and being a patron of community and regional productions, because her family did not have the means to visit to Broadway on a whim. Innerbichler was able to gain a respect and adoration for community and regional theatre — and the true art that artists can create in those venues — by both seeing and being a part of these experiences. When I asked her what her favorite experience as a patron of the arts was, Innerbichler named a production of Hair at the Pantages in Minnesota that had people she had previously worked with in the cast. She appreciated the great art and the heart that she could see on stage, and she even later produced her own production of Hair in 2013 because of this experience.
When I asked Innerbichler about how she became involved with Shucked, she said that after she had to put Frozen on pause due to the pandemic, she had a choreographer friend reach out to her to express that this new musical in creation may be a good fit for Innerbichler. Because of the pandemic gave the creative team more time to work on Shucked than usual, Innerbichler had an inventive and collaborative process that has brought the full team of cast, creators, and even crew together to create an exciting world premiere. I asked her if she has a favorite part in the show, and she said that really it is just the aspect of working with the people she is working with, and the anticipation of the audience response.
Shucked is a comedy, and Innerbichler feels this is where she excels and enjoys the most. One of the things she said that resonates with me is that to work well in comedy, an actor has to remove their ego. Performers must be willing to work with what the comedy brings. Innerbichler said that the process of creating Shucked has been healing for her in this time of loss of community due to the pandemic, and she hopes that the audience can experience the same laughter, joy and healing. She also wants the audience to know that Shucked is not an adaptation, but truly an original work — something that is rare within the world of theater today.
Innerbichler also mentioned that theatre is a huge group project; it is an art form that is community based. I told her that is why we at Utah Theater Bloggers Association feel it is important to review shows from our local community up to the professional level, and a few of us have even been invited to review shows on Broadway. We both agreed that some of the best things we have ever seen on stage have not been the expensive or the elaborate productions.
I asked Innerbichler if she had any sage advice for budding young theatre hopefuls. She replied that if an artist can find their chosen family, they will never be alone. And while a person can plan, and life will often take a different course. Innerbichler stated that — while Broadway may be a good goal — there is so much theatre out there in so many places throughout our wonderful country and that it is important to broaden your horizons.
Finally, I asked Innerbichler how she is liking her time here in Utah. She replied that the elevation takes a bit to get used to. However, once that hurdle is passed, she is in awe of the mountains. She has spent time here before, and had a wonderful road trip to our magnificent national parks. She experienced just this week some of our fantastic food offerings, and was surprised by the variety and is excited to try more. Most of all, she learned while touring with Frozen what UTBA has known for years: that Utahns love musical theater. It is this aspect that makes her even more excited to be here and to present Shucked to this state.