Katie Falk, plays Belle and the covetous Laundress in "A Christmas Carol" now at Oregon Stage Works. She began her acting career as a child under the direction of her mother, Dianne Warner. Since then, Katie has grown into an accomplished actress, singer, and vocal coach. She's played numerous roles at Camelot Theatre, including Lily in "Carnival". We got together one sunny afternoon at Starbucks next to Southern Oregon University.

Katie Falk, plays Belle and the covetous Laundress in "A Christmas Carol" now at Oregon Stage Works. She began her acting career as a child under the direction of her mother, Dianne Warner. Since then, Katie has grown into an accomplished actress, singer, and vocal coach. She's played numerous roles at Camelot Theatre, including Lily in "Carnival". We got together one sunny afternoon at Starbucks next to Southern Oregon University.

EH: Have you thought of doing opera?

KF: I did for many years. But I wanted to move, and I wanted to be expressive. In opera you get to be incredibly expressive, but it's literally almost entirely from your voice, like a violin. There expression doesn't come from body movement, and that was something I wanted to do. It's just a different kind of art. So, I decided I wanted to do musical theater.

EH: How does working in theater affect your family?

KF: My family dynamic came from the fact that I went to rehearsals with my mother. I didn't need a babysitter because I was involved. I had to behave. I learned very quickly in the very first play I was in, which my mom directed. She sat me down and said, "OK, I'm going to start you in this part. You'd better do what I say. I'm a director, and you will do what I say, and if you don't, you'll get cut, and I will find another little girl." Some people don't say that to their kids because it's hard to separate work from family. But I never felt more supported because I knew very quickly what was important.

People liked having me at rehearsals because I would sit there and watch, and play, and watch. My sister was the same way, so we were together a lot. My dad comes to see everything and is very involved in what I do. In this production, my husband, A.J., plays Bob Crachet. The kids in "A Christmas Carol" are amazing to work with. They are little artists who care.

But theater can alienate your family if you don't work it right. If you just leave your family at home, you're just gone and there's nothing you can do about it. I know a lot of people who find it hard to negotiate finding the time, between their jobs and their children, to do theater without it affecting one or the other.

EH: What is it like competing for roles all of the time?

KF: Russ Otte told me once, "The only person worth competing with is yourself." That was one thing I really took to heart. I'm not competitive at all.

EH: What is it about theater that is so magnetic for most performers?

KF: Chemically, it releases so many endorphins. Some people's reactions are negative. That's where stage fright comes from. You have this rush of emotions and feelings that you don't know what to do with. You can either be afraid of it, or you can enjoy it.

Now, theater is an art for me. It's fascinating what people do and why they do it. Good actors are the ones that know that there are infinite things to learn from anyone you ever work with.

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" will be performed at Oregon Stage Works through Dec. 31, Thursday through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m. with additional performances Dec. 28, 29, and 30 at 8 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the Music Coop in Ashland and on the web at www.oregonstageworks.org For additional information call 482-2334.

Evalyn Hansen is a resident of Ashland. She has a bachelor's degree in dramatic arts from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree from San Francisco State University. She trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theatre, and is a founding member of San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Contact her at evalyn_robinson@yahoo.com.