After Appearing in National Tours of "Annie," "Funny Girl" and "The Full Monty," Katherine Hughes Lands Artistic Roles in Bridgeport Community

By Julie Perine on February 10, 2018 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

At age four, Katherine Smart Hughes was awestruck when her older sister was cast in the Harding High School production of “South Pacific.” Two years later, she found herself on that stage. The Marion, Ohio high school play called for some young extras and six-year-old Katherine was ecstatic when she was asked to portray one of the Snow children in the musical, “Carousel.”
 
 “I only walked across the stage two times and came back for the finale number, but I thought it was just awesome,” Hughes said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to be an actress.”
 
Growing up in a community which embraced community theater and the arts, she was fortunate to have many opportunities to nurture her dreams. After earning a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater at Aberdeen University – encompassing everything from dance and voice to acting and directing - Hughes fulfilled those aspirations. She traveled the country in the New York City-based national tours of “Annie,” “Funny Girl” and “The Full Monty.”
 
A character actress, Hughes was an ensemble member and understudied some of the shows’ signature personalities.
 
“In ‘Annie,’ I understudied Miss Hannigan and ended up playing her 14 times on the national tour,” she said. “In ‘Funny Girl’ and ‘The Full Monty,’ I understudied the old ladies – the crazy characters. In the opening of ‘The Full Monty,” a crazy woman runs down the aisle in the theater and pulls the tie off the stripper. That was me.”
 
Each of those national tours – which ran between 2000 and 2004 – featured well over 200 shows in cities across the country. It was not only a chance to fulfill her dreams, but also to see the U.S.
 
“It was wonderful to sort of sit down in a city for a whole week and explore that area,” Hughes said. “We went to Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Boston, Minneapolis – all over the place. We would do eight shows a week and sometimes even nine. It was crazy and grueling to eat fast food and live out of a suitcase. But it was also fantastic.”
 
A most memorable experience was during a day off in Arizona. She and her fellow cast members rented a car and spent the day exploring Red Rock.
 
Hughes said she is fortunate to have visited 47 of the 50 U.S. states; all but Hawaii, Alaska and Maine.
 
While she was appearing on stages across the country, her husband Dan was earning his doctorate degree. The couple eventually had children and since it was important to her to be home to tuck them into bed at night, she took a hiatus from acting.
 
Six years ago, when the Hughes children Amelia and Benjamin were six and three years old, the family relocated to Bridgeport when Dan was hired as director of choral activities at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Thanks, in part, to Bridgeport’s Tommy Schoffler, theater teacher at WVWC, Katherine found herself involved in performing arts once again.
 
“I choreographed ‘The Pirates of Penzance” at Wesleyan and taught musical theater performance as an adjunct professor,” she said. “Then two years ago, I was asked to be a guest artist in ‘The Witch (into the Woods).’”
Because of the family’s involvement at WVWC, additional windows of opportunity opened.

Dan Hughes had been hired at Wesleyan to succeed Larry Parsons, whose wife Sarah Carr Parsons was artistic director and founder of the Chanticleer Children’s Chorus and part of Bridgeport United Methodist Church’s music ministry.
 
“Amelia started singing the first fall after we moved here. She was in second grade, singing in Chanticleer and both children sang in choirs at Bridgeport United Methodist Church,” Hughes said.
 
Carr Parsons subsequently retired from Chanticleer and eventually, Dan and Katherine Hughes got on board.
 
“Dan became artistic director – directing the chamber and young men’s chorus,” Hughes said. “Just this year, I took over for the little ones – the training ensemble – kids in pre-K through second grade.”
 
The Chanticleer Children’s Chorus performs springtime and holiday concerts at both First United Methodist Church in Clarksburg and Wesley Chapel in Buckhannon. Weekly rehearsals are held at Horizons Church in Lost Creek. Children from throughout the area participate, with heavy participation from Lewis and Upshur counties, Hughes said. She encourages others to join by calling Dan Hughes at 304-473-8700.
 
Besides her work with Chanticleer and BUMC, Katherine Hughes’ artistic talents are currently in use at About You Monograms. Through prior employment with Blooms Florist, Hughes became friends with Lisa Lang, who eventually opened the monogram shop along Bridgeport’s Main Street. When asked if she wanted to be part of the business venture, Hughes said she was on board. At that time, she had never operated a monogram machine, but she worked hard to learn the craft and is enjoying it very much.
 
There’s always a new role to learn in life, said Hughes, who loves being part of the Bridgeport community. Her children Amelia and Benjamin are now students at Bridgeport Middle School and Simpson Elementary, respectively. 
 



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