Fireside Chats with Cast Member Kacie Laforest
What should we know about Kacie Laforest, the woman behind the voice?
Kacie Laforest is originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and has made a point of forcing herself onto as many stages as possible from a very early age. She loves playing all manner of roles and at one point her resume had "Lady Macbeth" from Macbeth listed right under "Victoria" (the white cat) in Cats. She’s also a writer and frequent collaborator on Fireside scripts with the fabulous Lizz Leiser. She is happily married to Alain Laforest, a.k.a. Simon Perdido, though she’s fairly certain that Rabbi Rachel does not approve of the union.
Can you recall the first audio drama you heard and what you found compelling about it?
“I wasn’t really aware of radio theatre until much later in life, but I absolutely loved listening to Peter and the Wolf as a kid. I had the illustrated book and the accompanying cassette tape with a narrator reading the story aloud and the orchestra playing the score underneath with different instruments for the different animals. I just loved reading and listening to that over and over. That oboe duck will forever live on in my memory.”
When did you first get involved in Fireside Mystery Theatre, and what drew you to the creative hearth?
“Well, the story behind my first Fireside performance is rather funny, actually. My husband, Alain Laforest, was performing with the group, and I was planning to go see the show that evening. I was just wrapping up a shift as a brunch server, and I got a call from Alain saying that a cast member was sick and they needed an emergency replacement, and since I was planning to come to the show anyway, did I want to fill in? Of course I said yes. I had been dying to work with the group anyway! Alain packed up some show-appropriate clothing for me; I got there about an hour before showtime; they handed me a script, and I looked it over as quickly as I could. One of the roles I was doing had extremely long expository monologues and of course I was thinking, ‘Oh no, what have I gotten myself into…’ But I got through it, I had a wonderful time, and I just couldn’t wait until I was able to work with everyone again. This was one of the older shows at LIC Bar, The APE-ril Show, so unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for me, who can say?) there is no recording!”
As a performer, what do you find most satisfying about the process of audio drama?
“Before I was an actor I was a dancer, so I always tended to approach roles from a more physical place. Working on audio drama has been a complete reversal in process. I was genuinely worried about what kind of actor I would be when I only had my voice to use. It was honestly a bit scary. But forcing myself out of my comfort zone has really helped me expand my abilities. With four new scripts a show and a very short rehearsal process, you get to try all kinds of different things all the time and you don’t have a lot of time to overthink it. I’ve really learned a lot, and it’s so much fun!”
Tell us about the character you’ve found most satisfying to play so far throughout your Fireside career and why?
“It’s wonderful when you have recurring characters because you get to spend more time with them, so I’ll always have a soft spot for Rabbi Rachel Berman in Sunken Harbor. That said, I recently got to do a super fun turn as Julie d'Aubigny, a.k.a. ‘La Maupin,’ a notorious lady libertine who was a famous French duelist, lover, and opera singer. It was such a fun script by Courteney Gillean Cholovich, and I loved it so much when I read it that I immediately got nervous that I was going to be terrible and ruin the whole thing! But it was such fun to play and ultimately I think it turned out rather well, if I do say so myself. Episode 50.3 She’s a Killer Queen: ‘La Maupin: Mistress of the Sword’.”
Who is your favourite Fireside character you didn't play?
“I am a big fan of Nancy / Sabella, played by Annabelle Rollison and Ali Silva respectively. Nancy seems like a fairly normal Irish lass but she has the ability to serve as a conduit for Sabella, a reclusive woman with paranormal abilities. Nancy is so funny and charming and Sabella is super creepy and both of the actresses work so well together and are so darn talented. You can find them originally in Irish Ghost Stories 2016 and they make another appearance in 28.4 Some People You Might Know: ‘The Taken’.”
Which play that Fireside has produced are you proudest of and why?
“I will always be proud of Fireside Fairy Tales, specifically Episode 45.2: ‘Just a Quiet Girl,’ as that represented my debut as a writer. I’d always wanted to try my hand at writing for Fireside but knew that I didn’t really know what I was doing. Fortunately my hilarious friend Lizz Leiser, who has been a playwright for basically forever and is mega talented, said she was willing to work with me to develop something, so we decided to do a fun modern twist on The Little Mermaid. I was so grateful to Gus and Ali for taking a chance on us and agreeing to put our story in the show. Seeing the story come to life from a blank page to a full audio recording was just so fantastic and satisfying for me.”
When you’re not treading the boards at The Slipper Room performing with Fireside Mystery Theatre what occupies your time?
“I have a little dog, Ripley, who is basically the love of my life. After my husband Alain, of course. I also love baking and—nerd alert—playing Dungeons and Dragons!”
Which podcast, aside from Fireside Mystery Theatre of course, do you listen to regularly, and what do you love about it?
“Well, this is awkward. I don’t really listen to podcasts. But I like being in one!”
Which horror movie, scary book or play has had the biggest impact on you and why?
“That would have to be Dracula. I got cast in the play in high school, and it was the first lead role I’d ever gotten in anything so I worked really hard on it. I ended up becoming fascinated by the book and the story in general, to the point that in college, I wrote my undergraduate English Honors thesis on theatrical adaptations of Dracula. I find the book to be much creepier and more insinuating than it usually ends up being on stage or film. To me, the really disturbing thing is that it’s a story of ordinary English people leading ordinary proper English lives who have those lives suddenly interrupted by the incursion of an extreme supernatural evil that literally creeps into their bedrooms in the dark of night. The truths they have to face about themselves and the world they thought they knew is where the story gets interesting for me.”
Have you ever had a supernatural experience in real life?
“Nothing specific. Though sometimes I think I catch something out of the corner of my eye that disappears very suddenly, but I also get migraine aura so chances are it can all be explained by science. But I do believe that there are forces and things in this world that the average person cannot or does not see or knowingly interact with. Whether or not those things qualify as supernatural, well, I’m not the person to ask.”
Where can people find out more about you or connect with you?