SALT LAKE CITY — Weber State University theater arts professor Tracy Callahan knows all too well what it’s like to be on both sides of the stage. She loves directing, but this semester — while on sabbatical — she decided to take the stage again after a five-year absence.
The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning show by John Patrick Shanley tells the story of Sister Aloysius, played by Callahan, a Bronx school principal who takes matters into her own hands when she suspects a young Father Flynn (Roger Dunbar) of improper relations with one of the male students.
Callahan knew she could tackle the role for a few reasons.
“I went to Catholic school and I know what that’s like. I saw the nuns,” she said. She is also the right age for the part and knew she could tackle the difficult subject matter. “It is something being talked about a lot now and it is important,” Callahan said.
• WHAT: “Doubt, A Parable”
• WHEN: 7:30 p.m. March 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19; 3 p.m. March 20
• WHERE: Sorenson Unity Center Black Box Theater, 900 West California Ave. (1383 S.), Salt Lake City
• ADMISSION: $15-$18/advance, $17/$20/ at door; www.utahrep.org.
Callahan readily admits she prefers directing, which is mostly what she does at Weber State and when she has other sabbatical breaks, but she also knows it’s important to do some acting.
“There are a lot of lines to memorize, especially at my age; I’m not 18 anymore,” she said with a laugh. “I realize how hard acting is. It’s one thing to sit back and tell people to do it, it’s another to do it,” she said.
The director loves keeping her mind fresh by doing acting too. “It’s different not to be in charge of things, but it’s good for me. I don’t want to be the director here. I want to take the direction,” she said.
Director JC Carter said Callahan is a perfect pick for the show. “Tracy has helped shape some of the strongest theatrical talent in Utah as a professor at Weber State University. She brings a world of talent and experience to our small stage and has created a character that I think everyone will relate to,” Carter said.
Plus, Carter needed a strong, talented actress to play the role of Sister Aloysius. “It seemed like a no-brainer to cast Tracy,” Carter said.
Both Carter and Callahan said the show is relatable to current-day issues, especially in light of “Spotlight” just getting the Best Picture win at the recent Academy Awards. That film deals with the same issues of bringing sexual abuse in the Catholic Church to light.
The show opens March 4 and runs Fridays and Saturdays, with one Sunday matinee, through March 20. Tickets range from $15 to $20 and can be purchased at the door or the theater’s website.