Two actors with Evanston connections, Heidi Kettenring and Lucy Godinez, star in the upcoming production of Big Fish at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, scheduled to run from Jan. 25 to March 19.

At its heart, Big Fish is the story of the relationship between a father, Edward Bloom, and a son, Will Bloom, and Will’s attempt to understand his father despite Edward’s use of fantasy and telling tall tales to distance himself from those he loves. It’s a story of reconciliation filled with humor and poignancy. 

Directed by Henry Godinez, with musical direction by Jeff Award winner Ryan T. Nelson, Big Fish is based on the 1998 novel by Daniel Wallace. 

Heidi Kettenring, a Northwestern grad and Evanston resident, stars in the upcoming production of Big Fish at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Credit: Joe Mazza / The Marriott Theatre

Kettenring’s plays Sandra Bloom, the wife of Edward and mother of Will. Her character ages on stage throughout the play. This is her 27th role at Marriott Theatre; last year she played Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!

Portraying a character whose journey goes back and forth in time “is challenging and hard, but the kind of challenge I really love,” Kettenring said. “I use my voice, my stance, how I hold my head … all of these are ways I communicate my character’s inner feelings.”

Kettenring is a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Communication and currently lives in Evanston with her husband and fellow actor, David Girolmo. (Girolmo is featured in Porchlight Music Theatres New Faces Sing Broadway 1951 at SPACE on Jan. 23.) 

“The pressure of live theater is what makes it exciting. It’s a communal experience, anything can happen,” said Kettenring. 

Lucy Godinez, an ETHS and Northwestern grad, stars as The Witch in the upcoming production of Big Fish, Credit: Joe Mazza / The Marriott Theatre

Godinez is in the ensemble and plays the role of The Witch who enters the stage early in the first act. Godinez says “every character in the show teaches Edward, the protagonist, something about himself. The Witch tells Edward a prophecy about how he will die, which actually frees him. He is able to lead the rest of his life without fear, always leading with love.”

Godinez grew up and went to school in Evanston, a product of Districts 65 and 202. She attended Cherry Preschool, Davis and Washington elementary schools (her family moved, hence the switch) and Nichols middle school. Then on to ETHS (Class of 2014) and Northwestern (Class of 2018) where she graduated as a theater major from the musical theater certificate program. 

Godinez played on the Team Evanston traveling soccer team, but in high school she finally had to decide if she wanted to attend soccer practice or theater practice – there wasn’t enough time for both. She chose theater. 

At ETHS she was in YAMO, the student-directed and-performed show, and was fortunate to be in theater classes taught by Tim Herbert. Herbert recognized her talent and fostered her theatrical knowledge and growth. Godinez said Herbert, along with teachers and YAMO advisers Katrina Engel and Aaron Carney, were “instrumental” in her professional development.

In Godinez’s junior year at Northwestern, she secured one of the female leads in the show In the Heights, produced by Porchlight Music Theatre. She juggled five to six performances a week and kept up with her university studies. The show ran from Sept. 9 through Dec. 31, 2016 and “totally changed my life,” said Godinez. 

She’s pretty much been working steadily since then. She described it as “an industry where you learn by doing,” including how to compartmentalize so you can work on and retain a variety of different projects concurrently. 

Godinez has nothing but good things to say about Evanston.

“For aspiring young performers, ETHS provides a nurturing environment that helps build confidence. Evanston’s strong support of the arts is invaluable. Both of them really helped me,” she said.

Wendi Kromash

Wendi Kromash is curious about everything and will write about anything. She tends to focus on one-on-one interviews with community leaders, recaps and reviews of cultural events, feature stories about...

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