From the Hartke to Signature Theatre – An interview with Stefan Alexander Kempski from “Road Show”


by Maria Rodriguez

Not even having yet graduated, Stefan Alexander Kempski from Catholic University’s Department of Drama is currently performing in a local theater’s production of Road Show by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman.

Kempski, who took off a year from his studies at Catholic University to focus on acting opportunities, is playing multiple roles as part of the production’s ensemble.

Road Show, a lesser known work by the popular Broadway composer and lyricist Sondheim, is being produced by the Signature Theater in Arlington, Virginia.

The Signature Theater, a Tony Award®–winning company, is known for their committed productions of Sondheim’s works as well as productions of lesser known or forgotten works.

Kempski first came into contact with Signature Theater while auditioning around town. He returned to audition for Signature Theater several times, and his persistence paid off.

Signature called Kempski, remembering him from past auditions, and asked him to audition for Road Show. The call excited and surprised Kempski. Road Show is a musical, and Kempski was not trained in musical theater.

“I’m not like, a big Musical Theater guy,” said Kempski in an interview with The Tower. “I’m Shakespeare and Rock’n’Roll.”

So, when he received a callback from Signature for Road Show, Kempski said it was an “unexpected flattery.”

It’s a challenge performing Musical Theater, but one that Kempski has embraced. The roles he plays in the ensemble of the cast also present nuanced obstacles to explore.

“It’s always fun to do roles that are not really like you,” Kempski said.

During his time in Catholic University’s Department of Drama, Kempski learned many of the valuable tools, techniques, and tips that have helped him take on this theatrical challenge. The professors in the department made the most lasting impact on Kempski.

“I really connected with Gary Sloan and Eleanor Holdridge,” Kempski said. “They really taught me a lot about presence and delivery and how to be something onstage.”

Since Road Show is a musical, Kempski worked with a vocal coach to improve his singing sound. Brian Lilley, the faculty accompanist and vocal coach for the Musical Theater division in the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, serves as Kempski’s vocal coach as well.

“I’ve probably worked with him more in the past two months than in the past year,” Kempski said.

The rehearsal schedule at Signature is 6 days a week – nearly no time left for school. Kempski had taken off a couple of semesters to focus on shows, and his efforts have not been wasted. In fact, he’s been rather successful. He still plans to return to Catholic University to finish his degree.

As for his next role, well, that’s a continual work in progress.

“Auditioning is always happening,” said Kempski.

With a role at Signature under his belt, Kempski may return to Catholic University in high spirits and with many valuable contacts and experiences, proving again the successful caliber of student that this University’s drama department attracts and sends forth.





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