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‘Gypsy’ Actor Says She’s Playing a Dream Role

July 22, 2008

By Terry Rindfleisch, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Jul. 22–Liz Arihood feels like she belongs on stage. After raising her daughter and 15 years away from theater, Arihood returned to the stage two years ago in the La Crosse Community Theatre’s production of “Anything Goes,” and now she faces her biggest challenge as Rose in La Crescent’s Appleseed Community Theatre production of “Gypsy.”

“When I’m doing that,” Arihood said, pointing to the stage, “I feel like I should be doing that.

“Ever since I was 5, I wanted to perform,” she said.

The 38-year-old accountant at Trane Co. moved to La Crosse when she was in kindergarten. She took dance lessons at Marilyn School of Dance.

Arihood was cast in musicals at Central High School. As a high school freshman, she played one of the orphans, Pepper, in LCCT’s “Annie.” She had parts in several musicals, including “The Music Man” and “Pippin.”

After high school graduation in 1988, Arihood headed to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., where she worked for about two years in attractions and entertainment. She played Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Dopey and Roger Rabbit.

“I’m 4-foot, 11-inches tall, that’s primo height for stardom at Disney,” Arihood said.

She moved back to La Crosse and performed in several shows at LCCT and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Arihood played the role of Winnifred in LCCT’s production of the musical, “Once Upon A Mattress” in 1991, her last time on stage until 2006.

After “Anything Goes,” she played the mayor’s wife in Appleseed Community Theatre’s “The Music Man” last summer and she was the voice of the man-eating plant in February production of “Little Shop of Horrors” in West Salem, Wis. “The character parts have been a lot of fun to play,” Arihood said.

Arihood, who also went back to school and earned an associate degree in accounting, said playing Rose in “Gypsy” has been one of her dream roles.

“It’s one of the parts I had in the back of my mind I wanted to play,” Arihood said. “It’s wonderful, it’s exhausting and physically and emotionally draining.

“The challenge is keeping the intensity and energy up,” she said. “But I’m having a great time, and besides, I get to sing one great song after another and it’s in the strong part of my range.”

Ryan Stotts, “Gypsy” director, said he admires Arihood’s talent and loves working with her as a director and fellow actor.

“I have had the good fortune to work with many talented performers, but Liz is one of the most gifted and hard-working actors I’ve ever encountered,” Stotts said. “Not only that, but she has a truly good soul. She’s grade A, top of the line, first class.”

Arihood said she likes that when she is on stage, she can entertain people.

“It’s the idea that someone can have a bad day, and when they come to the theater, they’re only thinking about what they’re watching and having a good time,” she said. “It’s a cool and powerful thing.”

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: Appleseed Community Theatre production of “Gypsy”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 1:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: La Crescent High School Auditorium, La Crescent, Minn.

TICKETS: $10, available at the door, and in advance at Merchants Bank, Quillin’s of La Crescent and Festival Foods in Onalaska.

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To see more of the La Crosse Tribune or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.lacrossetribune.com/.

Copyright (c) 2008, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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