Talents, Artistic and Entrepreneurial
Recently, at a wedding shower Kristin Wilkes (BMus ’06) was attending, guests were asked to share what they do for a living. “I didn’t know what to say; it was a hard question to answer,” she says.
Wilkes has difficulty answering because she has quilted a professional life of many activities. Performer, teacher, writer, producer, entrepreneur are a few of her job titles.
The voice grad founded Wilkes Entertainment this year following the success of the self-produced revues: So in Love (co-featuring Laurier Music grad Mark Daboll, baritone) and A Fine Romance (co-featuring Laurier Music grad Kelly Robertson, tenor). Both shows, written, directed, and produced by Wilkes played to sold-out audiences in Barrie, and the Orillia and Gravenhurst playhouses, showcasing her vocal talents. The resident of Hillsdale (located north of Barrie), is now working on a new show, A Naughty Christmas, which has far less singing than her earlier productions, suggesting that she isn’t just replicating her previous work.
“I wanted to be the star of my own show but it was so hard to make connections and get opportunities so I decided to just do it myself,” Wilkes says, explaining what prompted her entrepreneurial effort in the first place.
Influenced by British farce, Wilkes writes, starting with a simple premise then just going where the ideas take her. “I do a two-page write up for each character, thinking of last names that sound funny, and I go from there.” she says.
Once the script is finished, she casts the roles, books the performance space, hires musicians and technical designers, and obtains props from stores and theatre companies. “I like to multi-task,” she says. In addition to her own productions, Wilkes has also sung cabaret and dinner theatre shows in Ontario and Florida.
Wilkes’ ingenuity isn’t just reserved for the stage. A certified teacher, obtaining her qualifications from York University in 2007, Wilkes has developed a presentation package which shows teachers how music can be used across the curriculum; she is hoping to present her techniques to boards of education throughout the province.
“When I was in teacher’s college, I noticed that the arts can be great tools for learning. If you sing, you remember more than if you try to retain something by rote. I realized you can use music in all subject areas, and I want to show non-music teachers how to do this by sharing what I did in my work placements.”
Wilkes would seem to know of what she speaks, being both teacher and student: She supply teaches and runs her own studio, Music For Life, teaching voice, theory, history, piano, and flute. In her third year at Laurier, Wilkes won the Faculty of Music’s concerto competition, and her vocal training is continuing as she studies with a vocal professor at the University of Toronto and plans to do a masters program in opera at that university.