Sarah Marie Curry’s childlike excitement, energy and fierceness is reflected in her voice, her personality and her performances. An Austin-based musical improvisation artist and actor, she seeks inspiration all around her.
Curry stars in the Texas premiere of Penfold Theatre’s “Ordinary Days,” a musical written by New York-based musical theater composer Adam Gwon and directed by UT graduate Michael McKelvey.
“I’m playing Deb, a graduate student in New York who is hopelessly trying to figure out life’s big questions,” Curry said. “She doesn’t feel satisfied anywhere she goes. She always has this anxiety and tension. She doesn’t really feel like she belongs anywhere.”
Curry performs solos as well as three duets with her co-star Joe Hartman, who plays Warren, a young man who meets Deb by chance.
“It’s so lovely to look into Joe’s pretty blue eyes during every rehearsal,” Curry said. “But, his character Warren is free-spirited and wild, and we don’t necessarily like each other.”
Curry, who grew up in San Angelo, Texas, moved to Austin in 2007 to work in plays, musicals and improv productions. “Ordinary Days” is a story about four New Yorkers finding their way in life, and Curry relates to her character in a personal manner.
“I came from a smaller city and moved to a big city, although Austin is nothing like New York,” Curry said. “But the story of finding yourself in a bigger place, feeling lost and feeling you cannot connect — that to me is a universal theme. Playing Deb is not as much as having to be a New Yorker as much as it is having to be a human who is feeling lost.”
For Curry, improv is the study of the immediate moment and is about listening, being aware and being present in the moment.
“You memorize your lines. You have them solid,” Curry said. “Then there comes a time in your performance when you have to let go. The only thing that matters is the relationship you are sharing with your musicians and your fellow actors on stage and your audience.”
Curry is also a member of the only all-female musical theater improvisation troupe in Austin, “Girls Girls Girls Improv Musicals.”
In every performance the group asks an audience member to suggest a location, like a coffee shop or a pet store. Then, with the help of the musical director, the women improvise original songs, a story line, characters and dialogues as they go along.
Troupe member Amy Averett met Curry through the improv and theater community in Austin.
“She is one of the people who brings an emotional range to the character,” Averett said. “She’s not afraid to go to the dark places of the character. Her emotional intensity allows her to really connect with the people she’s on stage with.”
Curry said she is excited about future opportunities, although she is happy with her current career trajectory.
“I’m really grateful for acting,” Curry said. “It gets me out of myself and my story and into someone else’s life and story. I like being surprised by the roles directors cast me in. It allows me to trust that there is something within the character that I share with myself and that there is something I can explore.”