by Lorie Lewis Ham
This Valley is blessed with an incredible amount of talented performers, artists, and writers, and one of those talented performers is local actor Amalie Larsen. While she is currently a full time grad student at Fresno State working toward her Masters in geology, and a mom, she has also appeared in many productions in the area over the years.
Amalie was born in Utah while her dad was getting his PhD in geology. They moved to Sanger, California when she was five, and she went on to attend Fairmont Elementary School and Sanger High.
Her love of music and theatre began when she was young. Her mother was a singer and musician and always had music in the house. “She especially loved musicals and I grew up listening to all the classic musicals,” shared Amalie.
“When I was 10 my mom and dad went to London and came back with the original West End cast recording of Les Miz. I was in love! I dressed in a costume and played every character. My sisters still laugh about coming in to find me draped across the bed, dying along with Eponine in ‘A Little Fall of Rain.'”
Amalie’s first official show was a musical that her mom had written. When she was a freshman in high school, she was cast as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker and she never looked back. She performed all through high school, and was cast in Grease, her first Good Company Players production at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, in 1992. “I was in many, many GCP shows over a four year period, then I went off to college.” Amalie graduated from NYU in 1998, lived in NYC until 2010, then moved back to Fresno.
Musicals have always been Amalie’s favorite type of show to perform in. Some of her favorite roles through the years include Paint Your Wagon-Jennifer Rumson (GCP, 1995), 1776-Martha Jefferson (first National tour, 1999), Oklahoma-Laurey Williams (Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, 2008), Les Miz-Fantine (Stageworks Fresno, 2012), Into the Woods-The Witch (Stageworks Fresno, 2015), and The Who’s Tommy-Mrs. Walker (Stageworks Fresno, 2016). She was also in the cast of national touring productions of Titanic, The Music Man, and Footloose (from 2000-2004), and did a year on a cruise ship.
Amalie actually met her husband, fellow actor Chris Van Vleet (who is currently on tour with 42nd Street), while on tour. “He proposed on stage during our tour of Footloose. We got married in 2000 and he left right away on a tour of Peter Pan.”
“I’ve known Amalie since she was a teenager,” stated local vocal coach/teacher Terry Estabrook. “She studied with me long ago. Even back then, she was amazingly talented. I was so excited when she came back to Clovis and started performing in Stageworks Fresno productions. Amalie is so professional; she’s always prepared and takes direction so willingly. Vocally and dramatically she hits it out of the ballpark every time.”
“I absolutely love any opportunity I get to work with Amalie,” shared Joel Abels, the artistic director of StageWorks Fresno. “She commits 110% to any project she is a part of. She is so willing to play and make choices throughout the rehearsal process, in return giving so much to the other actors on stage with her.”
Amalie’s favorite things about acting are being able to pretend, making people feel something, and giving them a break from everyday life. She also loves being transported to a different place, time, or life.
The hardest thing for her now is finding a balance. “I am getting a graduate degree in geology–following in my dads footsteps– and it’s hard to move on from performing. I know I will always work to make acting and singing a part of my life, no matter what else I do. But, I have to balance that desire to perform, with the desire to achieve new goals in my life. It’s hard being a mom and student and balancing shows. I try to only do shows during the summer, and I prefer a short rehearsal and performance period.”
What she feels has helped her to grow the most as an actor is a lot of practice, along with knowledge, listening, and learning something new every day. Her advice to aspiring actors is to be prepared to work really hard, and not always get what you think you deserve. “But, when you DO get what you have worked and worked for, love every minute of it!”
One of Amalie’s most memorable experiences as an actor was when she was in her first lead role in a GCP show, Paint Your Wagon. About midway through the run, she got food poisoning and was horribly sick all night. “The next morning, I told my mom, I don’t know how I am going to do the show. We went to the hospital and I got medicine and two bags of fluid pumped into me. I grabbed some pillows and a bucket and went to the theatre, drained and barely coherent.” With the help of the cast and crew she made it through the performance–they had even set up a bed for her right offstage. “It’s one of the best and worst days of my life. Family. They were my family.”
“Amalie is one of the most talented people I know–as well as being a dear friend,” shared local actor Terry Lewis. “We’ve known each other over 20 years now, have been in multiple shows together, and have never truly interacted on stage before. It is my life’s mission to play opposite her at some point before I die. She is so amazing and committed on stage, and of course that voice is to die for. I never leave one of her performances less than moved.”
When it comes to dream roles, Amalie’s are Fantine (Les Miz), Guinevere (Camelot), Lizzie (110 in the Shade), and Mama (Gypsy). So far, Fantine is the only one of those that she has had the chance to play.
The rare moments when she isn’t being a mom to three beautiful girls Maisie (8), Evie (6), Finley (2), being a student, or acting, she enjoys reading, yoga, and photography. She, Chris, and the girls currently live in the country near Sanger.
Even if you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Amalie on stage, you may still have seen or heard her. Since she has been back in Fresno, she had been on quite a few local and regional commercials and done voice-overs. “They have all been amazing experiences, and I learn something new every time.”
“Amalie has long been one of my favorite humans,” stated local theatre critic, actor, and writer Terrance McArthur. “Her singing voice has a depth of quality that astounds me. She took a song I had written and brought it into heart-wrenching life. I can pick her clear tones out of a group. When her name is in a cast, I know she can handle the role–comedy or drama, sympathetic or confrontational, Amalie is someone you have to watch.”
“I am a huge fan of Amalie,” shared local director Brad Myers. “We are currently in rehearsals for Heathers the Musical at Fresno State. Amalie is proving to be an inspiring professional role model for all of the students involved in the production. Her exceptional on-stage talent is matched by her dedication and grace offstage.”
You can see Amalie in Heathers May 5-7 and 9-13, and watch KRL for a review.
Amalie says that she is always ready for the next exciting thing! “Right now its all about school and kids, and every day is a treasure and a joy!”
You can find more theatre articles, and other entertainment articles, in our Arts & Entertainment section.