Katie Ulicne dons her dancing shoes as square dance announcer in Bright Star

From Wendy in Peter Pan to dance ensemble and square dance announcer in Bright Star, Katie Ulicne is a bright star all on her own. Katie shines by being friends with almost everyone she meets to helping out those in need. Katie has been in the school musicals since seventh grade and now ends her school musical career with Bright Star. Portraying characters similar to her bubbly and thoughtful personality like Wendy from Peter Pan comes easily,  and  playing sassy and entitled characters like Sharpay from High School Musical, Katie proves she is  a well-rounded actress. 


Preparing for roles is challenging, but Katie becomes her own version of the character she brings to life after watching how others actualize a fictional character. “Out of rehearsal, you want to make sure you look up different versions of the performance and see who is playing the part. Also comparing and contrasting the different types of acting they do for that role and the different movements and facial expressions they do for that role,” she said. 


Katie’s favorite role she has portrayed is Mayzie from Seussical in junior high. “Mayzie has a very bright and flamboyant personality. It was a really fun role to just be sassy. Also, the costume and makeup were so much fun,” she said. 


Mayzie is known as a self-centered, selfish, and vain character in the musical and recreating her personality was intriguing for Katie. “I already loved the role of Mayzie because of her vibrant personality and sass, so I didn’t have to do anything specific to do in order to embrace the role. I have played sassy roles in the past such as Sharpay in High School Musical Jr., so it came naturally,” Katie said. 


An actress performs to entertain large audiences and bring their character’s story to life. Because audience size has changed this year due to Covid, the challenges of performing in front of so many people compared to now with less people are real. “Latrobe is definitely known for their big audiences and we were so excited that our show had sold out. But when we found out that we couldn’t perform for as many people it was really sad. We had put in all that hard work to show people throughout the whole community. The energy in the room is definitely different compared to previous years,” she said. 


Performing in a musical requires a good attention to detail with perfecting everything about character while adding a personal touch. “A lot of the time with acting, in general you use your own experiences and you portray those into your character to accurately reflect those facial expressions. I’ll just look into a mirror and practice my scenes and go over my lines, to see how I look and what I need to work on,” she said. 

“For Mayzie, I looked up a bunch of recordings of different shows and saw how different people portrayed her. I also listened to the soundtrack a lot to hear the different voice intonations. For Wendy, I had to learn how to do a british accent,” she said. “The costume, hair, and makeup always help me to really feel like the character of course,” Katie said


At three-years-old, Katie began dancing, performing, and singing, even though she didn’t get onto the stage until she was 10 years old. Katie left Stage Right whenever she was 14 to focus on school sports and activities. “My fourth and last year of Stage Right was when I was in 8th grade. At that point, I had started junior high cheer which was an almost year-round commitment, and I also was doing the junior high musicals. I started to get too busy, and I knew I wanted to continue these activities in high school along with starting marching band. I realized that maybe it was time for me to push myself to do other things since there was so much to do in high school,” said Katie. 

“I found out about Stage Right in fifth grade, and I did that for four years, to get all my technical skills and gain experience with theater. Ever since then, I have been in all of the junior high musicals and the senior high musicals. I still sing at my church also,” she said.  


Auditioning is a scary process because an actor has to put themselves up for the opportunity of failure. Before every audition, Katie researches the show by looking at the characters, their speaking parts, and looking at the different scenes to prepare herself. “I look at different versions of the show to understand how the character I am auditioning is like,” she said. “I always get nervous before auditions, but I feel like it helps me do better. I usually just tell myself, ‘Just do your best and God will do the rest,’” she said. 


On top of her singing skills, Katie also plays the trumpet in the school band. While both activities focus on music, the band relies a lot on paying attention to those around you while theater requires your full attention to bring your character to life.  “Most of the ways I get in the mindset for band requires the full ensemble. One of the most important things I need to do is listen to those around me. I like to in a sense ‘turn my ears on’ by picking out each instrument’s sound when we play altogether. I also need to do my own warmups because if I’m warmed up on my instrument, I focus more on what I’m doing. For theatre, not only do I need to warm up my vocal instrument but I also need to put my mindset into the role I’m playing/auditioning for. Sometimes, it’s hard to switch into that character right away, so I like to go through different scenes and lines in my head or go through them while looking at my expressions in the mirror,” Katie said. 


Outside of theater, Katie participates in marching band, concert band, wind ensemble, jazz band, and reading competition. “I crochet a lot and I like to do art. The first thing I really crocheted is a type of crocheting called amigurumi, which is basically crocheting a plush stuffed animal. I’ve crocheted BB-8, a chewbacca, some bees, and a little Jasmine from Aladdin doll,” she said.


In the future Katie wants to major in business management and minor in art design and Spanish. “I applied to Saint Vincent College, Carnegie Mellon University, and Seton Hill University. I’m still waiting on Carnegie Mellon, but I have already been accepted into the other two schools. After college, I want to go straight into working with Disney as an Imagineer,” she said. 


With her senior year coming to an end Katie will put her tap shoes to rest. “It’s definitely a bittersweet moment because theater has always been a big part of my life, and I’ve grown more confident because of it. Although it’s almost done, I’ll never forget the countless memories and friendships made. When I do my last curtain call, I will cherish that last bow forever,” Katie says.



Katie Ulicne dons her dancing shoes as the square dance announcer in Bright Star. (Jessica Bald)