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‘I Love You’ actor Lexie Anne Cole only just now getting untracked


On stage through April 6 in FSW’s Black Box Theatre is the delightfully entertaining and playfully hilarious 1996 musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. This witty revue examines dating, romance, love, marriage and loss in all its glorious forms. The show features a cast of six that includes Lexie Anne Cole.

Cole’s involvement in I Love You is ambitious, to say the least. She not only plays ten different characters and sings a solo, she’s the show’s stage manager, as well. It’s a role she’s played previously at Lab Theater, where she stage managed The Way We Get By, starring former FSW students and Stuart Brown protégés Steven Coe and Kendall Millang. (She cut her teeth in this department at The Lab, serving as assistant stage manager in The Best Man, in which she also had a small part.)

She characterizes herself as a perfectionist.

“I like to be organized and help other people stay organized,” she professes. “I like spreadsheets and making schedules. It’s fun for me to do.”

That may be, but stage managers play an integral role in every successful theater production. They not only provide practical and organizational support to the director, actors, designers, stage crew and technicians throughout the production process, they are also the director’s representative during rehearsals and performances, making sure both run smoothly.

For an actor looking to improve their craft, stage management also provides the opportunity to watch and learn from those crucial interactions between the director and members of the cast. Listening to directions as a third party observer, taking notes and helping the cast convert the director’s vision into a reality provides invaluable insights and experience.

But in this case, Cole’s organizational skills have been pushed to the limit. That’s because she’s had to balance her duties and responsibilities as Stuart Brown’s right hand gal with the challenges associated with portraying nearly a dozen characters and learning nearly as many musical numbers, including “Always a Bridesmaid,” a humorous yet nevertheless captivating solo.

To learn and differentiate each of these characters, Cole prepared a mini character study for each one. “In the Prologue, I’m this older gal who’s tired of going out but still harbors hope that perhaps one day I’ll find the right man,” she shares. “And that’s kind of the same character I play in ‘Single Man Drought.’ All these single men are terrible. I need a better single guy to find. In ‘A Stud and a Babe,’ I’m that awkward girl. I also get to be a mom and a married woman facilitating arranged marriages.”

It’s a dizzying array of characters, which Cole acquits well. But while acting well is a reward in its own right for Lexie Anne, I Love You represents a victory of another sort for this aspiring actor. The show is not only the first time she’s had an opportunity to sing a song in her own range and register, it is the first time she’s gotten to sing in front of an audience.

“Aside from my one line in Heathers (for Florida Rep),” she auto-corrects self-consciously.

While she did film work for a handful of years, primarily during middle school, and has been dancing since she was the tender age of three, she didn’t get her first taste of live theater until her freshman year of high school, and that consisted primarily ensembles and bit parts. In fact, her dog was in a show (Guys & Dolls) before Lexie was.

Her first speaking role (of any kind) didn’t come until March of 2017 when Lab Theater Artistic Director Annette Trossbach cast her as Lala Levy in The Last Night of Ballyhoo. It was a part that came not only with a fairly sizeable line load, but a tricky accent as well.

So it’s not surprising that I Love You is replete with firsts for Cole. She’s such a newbie that it’s her first time tackling many of the roles, parts and functions she’s presently handling.

And that’s awesome.

Because if she is this good already, it’s fun to imagine how much better she can become as she studies the art that is theater, works under the guidance and tutelage of instructors and directors like Stuart Brown, Annette Trossbach, Florida Rep’s Kody Jones and Rick Sebastian, and takes on bigger, badder and more challenging roles.

Her future is likely to include a lot more musical theater.

“I’d love to do A Chorus Line four more times, to play Cassie, Sheila, Diana and Maggie,” Cole effuses. “I’m a chorus girl. I like dancing and smiling my butt off.”

But she also adores the challenge of dramatic parts, like that of the Supreme Court justice she portrayed in Wellesley Girl. “It was fun to dive that deep into character analysis,” she points out. Moreover, parts like those in Ballyhoo and Wellesley Girl give her the chance to be someone else for an hour or two, “and make other people forget whatever else they have going on too.”

Lexie will complete her Associate of Arts at Florida SouthWestern State College next Spring (2020). After that, she hopes to transfer to Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Her five-year plan is to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theater, a Masters in Theatre Education and pick up her Equity card doing shows in Philadelphia (a 30 minute drive from campus) before heading to Manhattan to pursue a 2-year Conservancy in the shadow of Broadway.

“But for now, I love being here in the theater program at FSW. I’ve learned more from Stuart in the last eight months than I have in the last five years. At the top of the list is living in the moment. It used to be ‘Get through the lines.’ ‘Don’t make the audience wait.’ But now I know it’s more interesting to watch someone make a decision than see them execute the decision they just made.”

And I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change certainly won’t be her last show between now and next Spring. She’s already scheduled an audition at Florida Rep for Spring Awakening. She has a number of other local shows within her sights, not only at FSW, but at Lab Theater and The Naples Players as well.

Yes, she sounds busy, even overloaded. But that’s the way she likes it.

“Full time student. Full time performer. Full time employee,” she laughs, stopping suddenly as she takes stock of her life. “Well, I will be in two weeks. I’m on hiatus from Capone’s [in downtown Fort Myers] to do this show.”

You can see and support Lexie in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change in the FSW Black Box Theatre through April 6.

March 30, 2019.


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