When your husband is at the beck and call of the military, it can be hard to pursue your own dreams. Kathy Sanders, however, is not one of those women.
“I have been doing theater at least 30 years,” says Kathy, a Coronado local. “With my husband in the military, it’s what keeps my sanity in each new duty station! Once I get the kids settled in school, my first order of business is an audition.”
Currently Kathy is performing in WaistWatchers The Musical! in downtown San Diego’s Lyceum Theater. Set in a gym, the musical takes a hilarious and lighthearted look at four women dealing with their obsession with food and assorted body image issues. Parodying 22 popular songs with cleverly rewritten lyrics, the ladies tackle issues like dieting, exercise, plastic surgery, sex over the age of forty, and the relentless search for a positive self-image. The production spent its first five weeks in Phoenix and has recently traveled to San Diego to show through March 27, 2016.
As a military spouse, Kathy has moved with her husband from Virginia Beach to Jacksonville to Coronado and many places in between. Their longest stint was in Virginia for 11 years, where she performed in over 30 shows with a local professional theater. Some of her favorite shows over the years have included Beehive, Evita, and The Drowsy Chaperone. “One of my favorite roles ever was in Virginia Beach as Miss Mazzepa in the show called Gypsy,” says Kathy. “So many musicals, so little time!”
Getting auditions is hard, though, when you move frequently. “San Diego is a tough nut to crack in the theater world,” explains Kathy. “The theaters seem to have their tried and true actors that they like to stick with. I kept trying and trying, and finally [WaistWatchers] came about, and it’s been a great company to work for. I couldn’t ask for anything better. All the ‘no thank you’s that led up to this ‘yes’ made it all worth it.”
Kathy also points out that her passion for theater is good for her kids to see. “Auditioning and getting those ‘no thank you’s teaches your kids to keep on trying, and they get to see that with me. It happens every time we move; it happens to me, it happens to them.”
Kathy has lived in Coronado for over two years now, and her youngest daughter is currently a senior at Coronado High School. “None of my kids are interested in acting — at all!” laughs Kathy. “All of them do come to see me now, but there was a stage in middle school where it was an embarrassment and they wouldn’t come see me! They liked it in elementary school and again now.”
In addition to her now-supportive children, Kathy also has a hugely supportive husband, who comes to see all her shows, allows her to pursue her passions, and, most recently, even held down the fort at home so she could travel with WaistWatchers. He is the chief of staff of Carrier Strike Group 1 and was deployed with U.S.S. Carl Vinson, but this winter he stayed home while Kathy performed eight shows a week with WaistWatchers in Phoenix. “Usually my husband is the one who deploys, but this was my five-week deployment! My family was on board with it, even though it was around the holidays, and so we all agreed, and it all worked out really well. It was a family decision.”
Kathy feels like she belongs to two families: her real family and her acting family. “The girls in the show have become more like family than like cast mates because we all lived together in Phoenix and worked together. One of the girls compared it to the Sex and the City girls, although for me it’s more like The Golden Girls, I told her! We are all so diverse, from our backgrounds to our ages. We all have each other’s backs on stage, and everyone just covers for each other. You know if you fall, the cast will help you up.” Kathy also loves that the three other actresses are San Diego natives, making the show truly local.
“It’s a really funny show,” says Kathy, and explains that her favorite part is the music. “The songs in it are probably all tunes that people will recognize from popular shows or musicals, but the gentleman who wrote the musical changed all the words. One of the songs I sing is the tune of ‘Maria’ from West Side Story, but the song is called ‘Viagra.'” Kathy laughs, “It’s very funny! It’s not Shakespeare. You’re going to laugh a lot. That’s what we’re there for! We enjoy ourselves on stage as much as the people who are watching us.”
The show, directed by John Anderson of San Diego Repertory Theatre, will run through March 27, 2016. Groupon and Goldstar discounted tickets are available for select shows, and parking will be complimentary for up to three hours if guests park in the Horton Plaza parking decks. Visit the show’s website for more information and to purchase tickets.