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MLive interview 

Caitlin Burke

Cáitlín Burke  photo: Nate Smith

Caitlin Burke as Edith in with Amy Helfer, Emily Wright, Rebecca O'Sullivan, Meredith Borden, Katie Hall, Jennifer Piacenti, Monique Pelletier, Sarah Hutchinson, in "The Pirates of Penzance" at Symphony Space

Cáitlín Burke, center, in red, performs in "The Pirates of Penzance" photo: William Reynolds

"Pirates" performer looking forward to returning to Michigan

Interview for MLive

by Scott Atkinson

April 16, 2012


FLINT, MI--It's been a while since Caitlin Burke has been to The Whiting in Flint—and the view will be a bit different as well. This time, she'll be onstage.

Burke, who now lives in New York, grew up in Farmington Hills and said that her upcoming performance in "The Pirates of Penzance" at The Whiting is something like a "homecoming."

"Michigan is where I learned everything I learned," she said when talking about the upcoming show. "I got all my arts education in Michigan, so it's kind of cool."

She went to Southfield Christian High School and earned her undergraduate degree in piano and vocal performance from Oakland University before going to Indiana University. From there, she went off to New York to pursue her career.

"The Pirates of Penzance" is a comical opera written in the late 1800s about a group of bored and privileged men who decide one day, why don't we become pirates?

The title hints at the comedy for those living in England, who would know that Penzance isn't exactly the place you'd expect to find pirates.

"It's kind of the Macinac Island of England," Burke said, laughing.

She plays Edith in the opera, one of the general's daughters, but she knows other roles in the opera as well. In fact, she knows several roles in several operas.

Burke works for the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, a theater group that is housed and performs in Manhattan "right next to Carnegie Hall," she said.

Unlike other groups, where actors perform only one role for a show that tours for a year and then disbands, Burke's group performs works only by Gilbert and Sullivan and employs essentially the same group of actors year-round for all the shows.

Burke, therefore, has to be ready to jump into one of several roles on demand.

"Here in new york, I think it was 2010 I did "Pirates of Penzance" on a Thursday, then we did Friday night we did H.M.S. Pinafore, a two o' clock matinee on Saturday of Mikado, and then Saturday night did Ruddigore, and then the next Sunday matinee we would do "Pirates of Penzance" again," she said. "It's kind of crazy keeping all that stuff in your head."

The last time Burke performed in Michigan was in 2010 at the Meadowbrook Theatre in Rochester Hills (the same place where she did much of her work as a student) and she said she's looking forward to coming back to Michigan to see her family—and maybe a few other familiar faces.

A Detroit-based orchestra is performing the music for the show, and Burke said she wouldn't be surprised if she knew a few of the musicians.

"It's going to be fun. I'll probably know some of them. I'm looking forward to seeing who's there," she said.

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