Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Interview With Missy Koonce

not sure what to date this....2005 maybe?

Missy Koonce: actress, director, producer, singer, all around swanky woman. She has been named Best Actor in the "Best of Kansas City" edition of Kansas City Magazine, She won a Drama Desk Award (which are the local theater awards) for Best Supporting Acress in a musical in 1999 in Schoolhouse Rock at the Coterie Theatre. Basically, she's one of the most sought after actresses in the Kansas City area. OhTheBill.com is thrilled to have Missy Koonce inagurate the interview section.

OTB: What is the name on your birth certificate?

MK: Melissa Jean Koonce

OTB: In doing research about you, I've tried to ascertain where you are from and come up with no answers…can you tell the international fans of OhTheBill.com where you are originally from?

MK: Born in Jefferson City, Mo then traveled around for many years going to 7 different elementary schools. My biological father was in the retail shoe business and was transferred quite a bit. By the 3rd grade my mother and father were divorced and I was back in Jeff City until I was 11 1/2 when my mother remarried and we moved to Grain Valley where I finished my Junior High and High School education. (I recently went back to my high school and spoke at the honor students dinner on succeeding in your chosen vocation). Then went on to college at Tarkio College (which no longer exists) and then moved back to K.C. where I have lived since, aside from a short stint in Denver, CO.

OTB: Your Mothers Name?

MK: Melanie Norris

OTB: Your Fathers Name?

MK: Troy Norris

OTB: Any siblings?

MK: Step brother Todd Norris

OTB: What kind of environment did you grow up in? Rural? Urban? What sort of things can you attribute to your development that has made you the woman that you are today?

MK: My mother and stepfather were very supportive. I was involved in ever school activity that they would let me in: Basketball, Volleyball, Track, Student Council, Junior Class President, Forensics, Choir, National Honor Society, Art Club, all of it. I went to a very small school and was able to do everything. The same with college, it was a small private Presbyterian liberal arts college. I went on a Basketball and Music scholarship and was very involved. Tarkio had a great theatre department and a professional Equity summer stock theatre program in the historic Mule Barn Theatre.

OTB: What different places have you lived?

MK: have lived in Jefferson City Mo, Grand Rapids MI, Champagne, Decatur, and Chicago IL, Upstate NY, Grain Valley MO, Kansas City MO, Prairie Village KS and Denver CO.

OTB: What was your ambition when you went to college? Your major?

MK: Tarkio College I was a theatre major with a vocal music minor. I wasn't sure what the hell hell I was going to be when I grew up.

OTB: What was your first acting gig?

MK: I did Carousel, Brigadoon and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas for The Mule Barn Theatre's summer stock. My first Kansas City job was at the Unicorn: Expiring Minds Want to Know or 6 women with Brain Death in 1989.

OTB: I've heard some things here and there about your new adventure Bar Natasha can you tell me more about it? What was the force in bringing that about? When will it be open? What's the environment like?

MK: Bar Natasha will be an upscale piano lounge. Open Wed thru Saturday 4pm to 1am. With live music nightly and high-end appetizers and desserts by Lou Jane Temple. We will have a great happy hour 4pm to 8pm and table service. All of the servers and bartenders will also be performers and can sing on demand. My business partners name is JD Mann and he has moved here from Taos NM to open this club with me. He comes from a business and marketing background.

OTB: As a musician myself I am driven to create art from the love I get from the audience and the process of creating itself; I have always been completely intrigued by other artists drive to create. What is it that drives you to act/sing/direct? Is it a different motivation for different venues?

MK: I can't imagine doing anything else. I don't really know life outside of the bar and restaurant business and performing. It's what I've always done and I imagine what I will always do. I love it, I love everything about it (for the most part!).

OTB: Is there any special ritual that you do before a performance that you are participating in? How do you prepare for performances in general?

MK: I am very team oriented, I believe in group warm ups, getting everyone fired up for performance, having that sense of ensemble before you ever hit the stage or the restaurant floor for that matter.

OTB: What's next for Late Night Theatre? I can only imagine all the outlandish projects that you've come up with Ron McGee, how do you get ideas for shows?

MK: Ron Megee will be performing in the David Sedaris one-man show The Santa Land Diaries for the holiday season. He's did that show two years at the Unicorn and now is bringing it back at Late Night. It will be the first time Kansas Citians have had the opportunity to see the show on a Friday or Saturday night at 8pm. It's very exciting!

OTB: What is the best advice someone gave you?

MK: "Follow your dreams" and "Learn your lines and don't bump into the furniture".

OTB: Who or what has been an influence on your work that might really surprise others who don't know you?

MK: My partner Laura has been my motivation more than anyone to get my shit together and be a success. When we started dating almost 5 years ago is when I really began to focus and my career began to thrive. There is something to say about the power of love and someones unconditional and constant support of you.

OTB: Other than sleep…what do you do with you free time?

MK: I enjoy getting together with friends and I also read a great deal, primarily fiction of all kinds. My favorite author at this time is Mauve Binchey, an Irish novelist.

OTB: A book you've read more than once?

MK: Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut

OTB: What is in your cd player at this very moment?

MK: Mary Chapin Carpenter's Stones in the Road

OTB: A peak experience from a concert that you attended (like a rock concert or something similar) that would like to share?

MK: 1984 the Eurhythmics, Annie Lennox came out in the rain with a big-ass umbrella and finished the concert, it was amazing!

OTB: You have an amazing bluesy/jazzy/smoky voice….have you received vocal training? If so, who have you trained with?

MK: I was a vocal music minor in college; I also have trained locally with Molly Jessup and Anthony Edwards.

OTB: If you had a song to broadcast to the world, what song would it be?

MK: Trust Love by Ricki Byers

OTB: Do you have a theme song? Do you and your partner have a theme song? If so, what is it?

MK: I think everyone knows my signature song is "Somethin' to Talk About" by Bonnie Raitt.

OTB: I saw you in The Laramie Project and you were amazing….the play as a whole experience was so intense, how did that effect you personally as a gay person?

MK: I was actually cast in The Female Odd Couple at the American Heartland Theatre and I left halfway thru the run to go and do Laramie. I couldn't imagine having the opportunity as a gay person to do that show and not do it. We performed on September 11th and had a talk back afterwards and the performance of that show on that day and the talk back after were two of the most powerful moments of my life. The parallels were uncanny.

OTB: What attracts you to characters? to theatre projects in general?

MK: Something that is fun and fulfilling, challenging and proves to be successful.

OTB: Is there a part that you are dying to play? If so, what is it?

MK: I've always wanted to play Anita in Westside Story, but I don't really see that happening!

OTB: Has being an 'out' celebrity effected your career at all? Positive/Negative?

MK: I think that being "out" has certainly not hurt my career. I have actually gotten a lot of support and a large following due to the fact that I have exposure in the gay community. One thing I will definitely say about the gay community is that they support their own, and the Kansas City gay community has more than been there for me.

OTB: Growing up, was your family very open to the idea of someone being gay or did you hear a lot of negative things about gay people?

MK: My family has been very supportive of me. I came out as a teenager and in college my house was a safe-haven for all of my gay friends. My mother and father were very welcoming to all of my friends over the years and gave them a place on weekends and holidays where they could be themselves and where they felt loved and comfortable

OTB: What is your take on the current political climate in the United States? In the world? Missouri? Kansas City? The War? The State of the Arts in America?

MK: I think we are losing our civil, women's and environmental rights left and right as the world focuses on the war in Iraq. There is a definite underlying campaign going on that is very dangerous to the progress that it has taken gays and lesbians and most definitely woman decades to struggle for and attain. It frightens me, quite frankly.

OTB: If "you must be the change that you wish to see in the world" what change would you like to see in the world?

MK: That we live our lives and kind and loving people whom support one another and don't pass judgement.

OTB: In the movie of your life, who plays you?

MK: Well I do of course!

OTB: What about fans? Have you had any crazy experiences with fans getting out of control or crossing the line?

MK: Not really. Sometimes people are a bit obsessive. My main audience are those 12 and under. They like autographs and hugs, I can handle that!

OTB: What haven't you done that you would like to achieve?

MK: I would love to go to Europe. I have never traveled abroad and I feel like I am really missing something there. My partner is Italian and we continue to try to schedule a trip to Italy, but as of yet, it has not come to fruition. Someday….

OTB: If you had to interview God, what questions would you ask? Do you believe in God? How does that belief or lack of belief play any role in your art?

MK: I believe there is definitely something larger than me. It’s my belief in that; I think that keeps me grounded and humble. I live life as it comes, I have no questions that will not eventually be answered by the outcome of how I live.

OTB: What do you know for sure?

MK: Luigi Pirrandello said, "There is no absolute truth, only perception" I defer to him.

Here are those famous 10 questions from "Bullion du Culture" stolen by James Lipton from "Inside the Actors Studio"
OTB: What's your favorite word?

MK: Words are so wonderful, how can you pick just one? Corucopia is a pretty good one, or Gregarious. I also like the word Pussy, it just rolls off the tongue.

OTB: What's your least favorite word?

MK: loser

OTB: What sound or noise do you love?

MK: A cat's purr. A waterfall.

OTB: What sound or noise do you hate?

MK: Snoring, water dripping or a clock ticking

OTB: What turns you on?

MK: A woman talking about her passion or something she is really smart about. That is very hot, a woman's knowledge.

OTB: What turns you off?

MK: Someone who does not have the capacity to listen

OTB: What's your favorite curse word(s)?

MK: Fuck

OTB: What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?

MK: None

OTB: What profession would you not like to participate in?

MK: A nine to five computer job or office job of any kind. "Don't fence me in" as they say.

OTB: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

MK: "Come on in!"

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