If you ask some people what they did on their summer vacation you might get a response like “I went to the beach or to Europe.” In the case of Isabelle “Izzy” Smelkinson the answer would be “I made my DC theatre professional debut.” Izzy, as she likes to be called, is currently making a big splash with her portrayal of Rose in Dogfight at Keegan Theatre.
Izzy is a junior at American University majoring in Musical Theatre . Her past AU credits include Spring Awakening, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Julius Caesar and Ourselves Alone. While in her hometown of Westfield New Jersey Izzy performed at Summit Playhouse in Shrek and in high school in Bat Boy: The Musical. She attended the esteemed Paper Mill Playhouse Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory for four years and was recently part of Overtures at Signature Theatre.
We all know how hard it is for performers to break through. Many of them spend years in the chorus waiting for that big break. Izzy did it her first time out. That in itself is remarkable. From the college that sent us Shayna Blass, Samuel Edgerly and Adi Stein, you can now add Isabelle “Izzy” Smelkinson to the list of AU theatre types that are now delighting us in and around the area. Dogfight plays through this weekend at Keegan Theatre so go and have “Some Kinda Time” watching Izzy and her fellow performers in action. Izzy’s professional debut is one to be noted for sure and I can’t wait to see what’s next for this young talent. Welcome to DC’s professional theatre scene Izzy. It’s very nice to have you!
Was Dogfight at Keegan Theatre your first professional audition and what was your first reaction after they told you that you were cast as Rose in the production?
Yes, Dogfight was my first professional audition! When I found out I was cast, I actually went into denial for a little bit and all of my friends had to tell me that I was, in fact, cast in the show. I found out while I was still at school and I started screaming and jumping around my room and then immediately called my mom.
You participated in Paper Mill Playhouse’s Musical Theatre conservatory for a few years. Can you please talk about that experience and in particular your thoughts about being taught by the recently retired Micky McNany?
Paper Mill was like my second home growing up and Mickey was like mom. She saw me go through elementary school, middle school, and high school. My experience with Mickey is honestly the hardest thing for me to talk about because it was such an important part of my life, I don’t think my words ever do it justice. But Mickey really helped me realize just how much I love theatre.
You are currently a junior at American University. What is the biggest thing the theatre program has done for you so far in terms of preparing yourself to perform professionally?
I think Susan Derry, my voice teacher at AU, has helped me a lot in preparing me for the professional world. She’s been helping me build audition repertoire as well as informing me of opportunities in the area I should start looking out for and preparing for.
For people that are on the fence about seeing a musical that isn’t familiar to them, what would you say to convince them to come see Dogfight at Keegan Theatre?
Dogfight is my favorite musical. The music is absolutely amazing and the book is so honest and wonderful. Everyone can identify with something that happens in the show or a feeling felt by one of the characters. Oh, and the boys are absolutely incredible.
What is next for you performance wise after Dogfight?
Right now, I’m just planning on focusing on my education, but if a show comes up that I can participate in while still in school, I’m so there.