Korff School alumna to make West End debut in September
calendar icon02 Aug 2018
Lincoln, Neb.--Glenn Korff School of Music alumna Jaimie Pruden (B.A. Music 2013) has been cast in Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End. The show opens for previews on Sept. 26.
The cast also includes Rosalie Craig, Patti LuPone and Alex Gaumond, and the production is directed by Marianne Elliott.
“I was so surprised and so thrilled,” Pruden said. “I had been waiting to hear from my agent about it and knew that my callback had gone well, but of course, that’s never a guarantee. When I picked up the phone, my agent said, ‘How would you like to make your West End debut this summer?’ And I honestly don’t remember exactly what I said. I kind of yelped and stammered for a few moments before I was able to string a coherent sentence together, which probably went something like, ‘YES, PLEASE!’”
In this gender-swapping production of “Company,” the original lead male character of Bobby is now Bobbie, played by a female (Craig). The musical follows Bobbie, who is approaching her 35th birthday as all her friends are wondering why she isn’t married. In addition, Gaumond plays Jamie (originally written as Amy).
Pruden will be in the ensemble and understudying the characters, Jenny and Susan, who are two of Bobbie’s married friends.
“This is the biggest and most interesting thing I’ve ever auditioned for, and just the opportunity to be seen for it was incredibly cool,” Pruden said. “Also, the director, Marianne Elliott, is absolutely amazing. Getting to meet her at the callback was a huge honor. And even the thought of performing alongside the incredible talent in this cast just floors me. I’m honestly still reeling with happy shock. The fact that it’s my West End debut is icing on the cake.”
Coordinator of Musical Theatre Studies Alisa Belflower is not surprised at Pruden’s success.
“I was so happy for her, but not too surprised,” Belflower said. “I’ve grown to know Jaimie so well, and I’ve long known she had this within her artistic reach. You just never know exactly when the stars will align to offer you with such a spectacular opportunity. This is where she belongs and shines. I have no doubts about her readiness to make valuable contributions to this production.”
Originally from Tucson, Arizona, Pruden said she has been interested in singing and performing since an early age.
“My mother has always been creative and musical (she plays piano and guitar and sings), so when I was very small, I think I really idolized her for that,” she said. “I don’t quite remember how I got specifically interested in singing, but it was what I wanted to do from a very early age. I did lots of performing at school talent shows and church and community events all through my childhood.”
Her interest in musical theatre began in high school.
“When I got to high school, I was in the ensemble of the school musical ‘Anything Goes,’ and I fell madly, head-over-heels in love with musical theatre,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh yeah. THIS is what I have to do with my life.’ And I’ve been so fortunate to be able to.”
Belflower said Pruden was sent to her by her former student, Glenn Korff School of Music masters alumna Kriste Belt.
“Kriste told me I just had to work with Jaimie Pruden,” she said. “Jaimie came to UNL with so much talent, determination and a genuine presence that charmed nearly everyone she met. Almost always, Jaimie gave more than was required.”
Following her graduation from Nebraska in 2013, Pruden moved first to New York.
“I moved to New York with a fellow Johnny Carson School alum, Sam Hartley, in 2013,” she said. “After a couple of weeks of auditioning for basically everything I possibly could, I was incredibly fortunate to get a mainstage performing contract on Disney Cruise Line (DCL), and that’s where I met my husband. He was a guitarist in one of the cover bands on the ship. I did a second DCL contract in 2015 and got married in 2016.”
Pruden and her husband now live just outside of London in Essex.
“Since moving here late last year, I got an amazing gig playing Lily in an actor-musician production of ‘The Secret Garden’ at a new regional theatre in the Cotswolds, which was a rad and beautiful and humbling experience. The show closed in April, and I had actually been feeling a little bummed out that I wasn’t getting many auditions before ‘Company’ came up.”
Pruden said her time at Nebraska prepared her for a professional actor/singer career in many ways.
“Every time I have to prep for something specific for an audition or callback, I’m grateful for the excellent music theory and aural skills training I received in the School of Music,” she said. “Apart from that, I’ll never be able to adequately thank Alisa Belflower for her incredible dedication and skill as a voice teacher. She taught me so much about expression, technique and storytelling through song. She never wavered from her high expectations nor her belief in our ability to meet them, if we did our best.”
She’s grateful for the supportive atmosphere at Nebraska.
“The energy really helped me feel brave to try things I didn’t know if I could do, to take risks on and off stage, and to forge my own path through training,” she said.
She looks forward to working on “Company.”
“I know I’m going to learn so much,” Pruden said. “I want to go into the experience with a wide-open heart and mind, totally ready to soak up the genius around me, but also to give as much as I can.”