BY KATIE WOODZICK
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
April 22, 2015
“Hi, you’re amazing, where did you come from?”
Those were the first words that Michael Morgen uttered to Kathryn Brooks. Little did he know that four years later, they would be married, working together at Whidbey Children’s Theater and portraying the roles of husband and wife in a play.
Michael first met Kathryn after a preview performance of “Metamorphoses” at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in 2011. He was invited to a cast party where local actors played a game of Scrabble.
Later that same year, a production of “Closer” brought them together to work creatively. Michael played Larry and Kathryn was the stage manager. Months after the production closed, the two were dating and inseparable.
Michael proposed on September 21, 2013 after attending a production of “Play On.” After singing karaoke with friends, they drove to the dock at Freeland Park and he got down on one knee and popped the question. In June of 2014, the couple was married in Langley. All three of Michael’s children, Ellie Rose, Miles and Briar, were in attendance.
Fatherhood and a passion for acting made Michael a perfect fit for Whidbey Children’s Theater. He joined the staff in 2013, leaving his job as a house painter. As the Marketing Director and Administrative Assistant, he finds great joy in promoting productions and supporting the young performers.
“The most rewarding aspect of working at WCT is really the same no matter what I’m doing there,” he said. “It’s seeing young actors and crew and artists find more inside themselves than they knew existed—watching them create a safe and magic space in which they can truly trust each other and themselves—to create something that is truly more than the sum of its parts. Now that I’m here, I feel sure that I will be involved with children’s theater in some way for the rest of my life.”
Kathryn started her relationship with Whidbey Children’s Theater in the fall of 2013, designing the set for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” which was also Michael’s directorial debut. She joined the staff of WCT after meeting with Executive Director Cait Cassee. Her analytical and curious nature had long desired to serve an arts organization in a Program and Production Manager capacity.
“This kind of position—leading the charge on planning the season and programming for the organization—is something I’ve been really interested in for a few years,” Kathryn exclaimed. “I like planning. I like the telescoping aspect of looking at the big picture, the feel of the whole thing, and then focusing in on each production and their unique qualities. It’s a lot of fun!”
Cassee is thrilled to have both of them on her staff.
“Sometimes we joke around about them completing projects together and still being married’” she said wryly, “but the truth is they have a genuine respect for each other’s skills and abilities and their differing styles. They support each other in so many ways, and I feel like WCT hit the jackpot. They’re lovely people and I am honored and delighted to work with them.”
Last month, the pair co-directed an absurdist one-act dark comedy called “Chamber Music” with a cast of teens at the WCT Black Box. And the two don’t show any signs of slowing down in the number of artistic projects to which they dedicate themselves.
They’re currently putting the finishing touches on WCT’s fundraiser, Artapalooza, with two Events (or “Acts”) scheduled for Saturday, April 25. Both Acts will take place at Fireseed Catering in Langley. Act One is an all-inclusive Garden Party on the grounds, culminating in the announcement of next season’s lineup, which includes a 35th Anniversary Show. Act Two is an Island Black-Tie Dinner and Auction in the Barn at Fireseed.
The couple is also currently in rehearsals for “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play),” produced by OutCast Productions. They portray the characters of Dr. and Catherine Givings. The production marks the first time the two have acted together.
Kathryn feels a special connection to her character, she said, since they share the same name and she is actually married to the actor playing her husband.
“[The character] is going through a very emotional time and so she’s questioning a lot of things and has no real qualms about speaking freely about it to anyone who will listen,” she explained, “We are both DEFINITELY external processors. She is very energetic and wants to talk a lot, be active and adventurous, which I relate to because I’m always looking for ways to talk about anything or try something new. She’s also very philosophical and poetic without necessarily identifying as a philosopher or poet… and she’s sneaky.”
Michael plays Dr. Givings, a physician in 1880’s upstate New York who specializes in the treatment of hysteria. He finds the character to be the opposite of himself.
“He’s actually quite a reversal of myself, in many ways; I’m often more prone to over-discuss the feelings of a situation while neglecting the technical aspects,” he said. “I think we can all relate to his emotional illiteracy on some level or another, however, and under it all he really is a creature of love and devotion—whether to his work or his wife.”
Michael and Kathryn are as deeply invested in contributing to the artistic community on Whidbey Island as they are to their romantic relationship. They encourage audiences to come and see their efforts at both Artapalooza and “In the Next Room.”
“This artistic island life,” Michael said, smiling…“it’s all very illuminating and challenging and deliciously worthwhile.”
For more information and to purchase tickets for Artapalooza, please visit http://www.act2.bpt.me or call WCT at 360-221-8707 for personal assistance.
For more information on “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play),” please visit www.outcastproductions.net.
Image at top (and below): Briar, Kathryn, Michael, Ellie, and Miles Morgen-Davies at Michael and Kathryn’s wedding on June 21, 2014 (photo by Jim Carroll)
Katie Woodzick works at Hedgebrook as an External Relations Manager. She is also an actor and director who can be seen on local stages and the host of the Theatrical Mustang Podcast, which features interviews with unbridled talent in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at katiewoodzick.squarespace.com.
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