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'The ultimate dream': Alexandra Silber on Interlochen memories and iconic roles

Alexandra Silber
Alexandra Silber

The Grammy-nominated actor shares her Interlochen memories and explains how she makes iconic characters like Julie Jordan and Eliza Doolittle her own.

Alexandra Silber has played many iconic characters in her career, from Julie Jordan in "Carousel" to Maria in "West Side Story" to both Hodel and Tzeitel in different productions of "Fiddler on the Roof."

When taking on those types of roles, Silber said she's guided by the idea that every person is both a descendant and a future ancestor.

"It's so important to honor the creators, and it's so important to know who contributed to the creation of this role," Silber explained. "But also, tonight, Julie Jordan has been tasked to me, and that is such a huge responsibility."

Silber will share the stage with current Interlochen Arts Academy musical theater students this week at City Opera House in Traverse City.

Herself an alumna of Interlochen Arts Academy and Interlochen Arts Camp, Silber explained that she is performing "with" the students instead of performing "alongside" them.

"I'm hopefully offering them not only a rehearsal experience that feels professional, but a performance experience that models that too," Silber said.

Alexandra Silber in IPR's Studio A with Doug Peck at the piano
IPR/Kacie Brown
Alexandra Silber in IPR's Studio A with Doug Peck at the piano

She visited Studio A with fellow Interlochen Arts Camp alum and current Interlochen Arts Academy Instructor of Voice Doug Peck.

Silber recalled a memorable camp experience in the mid-1990s in which she, Peck and several other music and theater friends used an unoccupied cabin to play and sing for hours.

"We were figuring it all out together and being in the presence of art together," Silber said. "Interlochen gave me comradeship and a place where you could be an artsy weirdo in this beautiful place and feel less alone in the world."

Together in IPR's Studio A, Peck and Silber performed "Omar Sharif" from David Yazbek's 2016 musical "The Band's Visit."

Alexandra Silber (far right) and castmates in a 1999 Interlochen Arts Camp production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Iolanthe"
Interlochen Center for the Arts
Alexandra Silber (far right) and castmates in a 1999 Interlochen Arts Camp production of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Iolanthe"

Silber will also share the stage this week with fellow Interlochen alum Sydney James Harcourt.

Although they each performed at the 2015 Tony Awards (Harcourt in "Hamilton" and Silber in "Fiddler on the Roof"), this is the first time the two have performed together.

To Silber, their coming together here at Interlochen feels familiar because they have a shared set of experiences.

In fact, she said, a recent rehearsal with Peck and Harcourt felt like a "time warp" from her days at Interlochen Arts Camp.

"We were rehearsing but also just goofing around, listening to music and singing other things, and here I am, back in some random cabin in the woods doing exactly what we did as kids, but now as professionals," Silber said. "It was such a joy."

Alexandra Silber takes the stage of City Opera House in Traverse City with current Interlochen Arts Academy theater students and fellow Broadway star Sydney James Harcourt on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. Click here for more information and tickets.

Stefan Wiebe engineered this edition of Studio A.

Kacie Brown and Shelby Eppich provided additional support.

Dr. Amanda Sewell is IPR's music director.