From Oct. 27-Dec. 24, Gabi Stapula will become Mae, the young, loudmouth character in Arena Stage’s performance of ‘The Pajama Game.’
What aspects of performing as Mae in The Pajama Game have you most excited about this upcoming role?
I am excited to tell this story from a new perspective. I played Gladys in The Pajama Game a few years ago at Pace University, so it will be fun to take a new journey as Mae: a member of the grievance committee, factory striker and a goofy bundle of joy.
How did growing up in Alexandria contribute to your work ethic and early successes as an actor, singer and dancer?
I was always surrounded by hard-working role models. Watching my studio owner, Melissa Dobbs, evolve Metropolitan School of the Arts from its humble beginnings as a small dance studio to a one-of-a-kind fine arts high school has inspired me immensely. I was also fortunate to attend Fairfax County Public Schools, where I received an amazing education that has made me a thoughtful and informed actor. That paired with the technique that MSA provided contributed to my early successes.
What will be the best part about returning to your hometown area to perform in this musical?
I get the chance to share my work and give thanks to everyone who trained and supported me before I moved to New York. There are so many people—family, friends, teachers and mentors—that have lent a hand in my success as an actor.
Describe the moment that you knew you wanted to pursue acting.
I was bit by the theater bug pretty early at 8 years old when my family moved to Heidelberg, Germany, and we joined the incredible community at Roadside Theater. My dad found a love for directing there and started his own community theater, Metropolitan Performing Arts Theater, when we came back to Virginia a few years later. He directed, I choreographed, my mom made the costumes, and my sister tap-danced. I also started doing camps around D.C.: MSA, The Little Theatre of Alexandria, Signature Theatre. Then I met Parker Esse at Arena Stage. His vibrant energy and love for storytelling was so contagious that I knew I needed to follow his footsteps. Now it has come full circle with Parker as my choreographer at Arena Stage for The Pajama Game.