Southland native’s professional stage debut in ‘The Vortex’
By Betty Mohr firstname.lastname@example.org July 11, 2012 4:06PM
Hillary Sigale, a Flossmoor native, is making her professional stage debut in Dead Writers Theatre Collective's production of "The Vortex."
◆ In previews, with an official opening July 20 for a run to Aug. 26
◆ Greenhouse Theater Center,
2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago
◆ Tickets, $15 for preview performances, $30 for regular-run shows
◆ (773) 404-7336; deadwriters.net or greenhousetheater.org
◆ Dead Writers Theatre Collective
presents this show
Updated: August 14, 2012 6:07AM
There’s nothing quite as memorable as one’s first great job opportunity. That’s why Hillary Sigale said she is so excited about her chance to act on the professional stage.
“I am 19 years old, and next month I’ll be 20, and this is my first professional performance,” Sigale said. “I’ve been in school shows, but this is my first step in a real acting career.”
The Flossmoor native said she is thrilled to be in “The Vortex,” which is the inaugural production of a new theater company called Dead Writers Theatre Collective.
“This is a big-door opening for me, and I didn’t even audition for it,” Sigale said.
“The director, Jim Schneider, saw me in ‘Pippin,’ a show I did at Homewood-Flossmoor High School a few years ago.
“We recently met at a talk he was giving, and he remembered me. That he hadn’t forgotten me was very flattering, but then when he offered me a part in this show. I was overwhelmed.”
“The Vortex” was a controversial work when it first opened in London in 1924.
With the play’s focus on drug addiction, adultery and homosexuality, “The Vortex” was considered provocative and shocked audiences (something that rarely happens nowadays).
Noel Coward, then 24, wrote, directed and starred in the show, and the comedy established his reputation as one of England’s most daring and witty playwrights.
The story of “The Vortex” centers on a society matron who is so distraught over her fading beauty that she indulges in an affair with a younger man.
At the same time her son returns from Paris with a new girlfriend. All hell breaks loose when the son’s girlfriend and mom’s boyfriend hit it off.
Yet, there’s still more fireworks to come when family secrets are brought into the open.
“It’s a funny play about a dysfunctional family, and I play the maid, Preston,” Sigale said.
“When Coward first wrote ‘The Vortex,’ the part called for a male actor, but Coward ended up putting in a woman in the original production, and the part has been played by a woman ever since.”
Sigale said the maid is supposed to be a dour character, which is what makes her funny, and her age isn’t really specified.
“At the time of the play, maids tended to be in their early 20s, so I’m the perfect age for the role,” she said.
Sigale is a junior at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is majoring in neuroscience and psychology.
That major has caused some to question her commitment to acting. She said even her friends have wondered if it isn’t a strange major for someone who wants to be an actress.
“Knowing about human psychology and how the mind works is applicable to human nature, and presenting human nature is what acting is all about,” Sigale said.
“I recently added a major in acting, but I have found that studying neuroscience has been very useful for my career.
“I do research on psychological disorders like narcissism, bipolar and antisocial personalities. Learning about all these human problems is very useful to me as an actress.”
Sigale said she has been singing since elementary school. When her friends told her she performed like a character when she sang, it gave her something to think about.
She said she enjoyed the performance part a lot and soon found herself falling in love with acting.
“I became even more interested in acting when I was about 12 and was in my first play at Parker Junior High (in Flossmoor). I had just one line to say, but I loved it.”
Sigale credited much of her success to encouragement from family and friends.
“I’ve always felt that I grew up with the wonderful support of my parents, sisters and kids I grew up with,” she said.
The Flossmoor community has been behind me every step of the way. Many of the people I know in the community are coming to see me in ‘The Vortex.’
“I’m still a sophomore in college and can only act professionally in the summer. I’ll graduate in two years, and then nothing is going to hold me back. I’ll be able to act full time.”
Betty Mohr is a local freelance writer.