Katrina Kmak can be a very funny woman. The talented young actress, singer and improv comic loves to make people laugh. It comes naturally to the lanky, 30-year-old redhead, who moved to Park City a year ago. Kmak describes herself as "obnoxious, really outgoing and a social butterfly." She says she's most funny when she burps or passes gas. It's universal.
After several years touring with regional stage companies, doing musicals and improvisational comedy, she decided it was time to take a break after developing vocal nodes.
"I moved here to learn to ski. I knew nothing about the town, but some friends in the show I was doing for Princess Cruises in Alaska said I should hang with them in Park City when the season ended. I thought, 'OK what the heck. I've already lived here longer than anyplace since college,'" says Kmak.
It's been a good match, she says. "Park City is really beautiful. The mountains make me feel small, which I love. The more people I meet, the more I like it. People here are polite, kind, active, helpful and open-minded. I plan to stay."
One of five children, Kmak grew up near the town of Baraboo, Wisconsin. "My favorite memories are of snowmobiling and sledding out in the corn field behind our house. My dad made a sled out of an old VW bug hood and pulled us kids behind the snowmobile."
The Kmak clan had a flair for the dramatic. "When I was six or seven we used to put on shows for our parents and charge them five cents each. Later, we were all in children's theater," says Kmak.
She was also musically inclined, playing both woodwind and percussion instruments from elementary through high school. After graduating from Wisconsin Dells High, she attended the University of Wisconsin on a music scholarship. "I played the oboe in the wind ensemble and orchestra and intended to take a degree in instrumental music and vocal music education," says Kmak. "I also was a drummer in the marching band drum line and the jazz band, and sang in the chamber and women's choir. I was sort of overextended.
"My life changed when I decided to focus on singing and did my first musical. I fell in love with singing on stage and character acting. It makes me feel so good and I love sharing it with people. I ended up getting my degree in vocal music performance in 2006," she explains.
Kmak then embarked on a multi-year performance odyssey. "I traveled coast to coast from 2006 through 2013 doing musicals, children's theater and improv. In Pennsylvania I did main stage productions and three-day, interactive murder-mystery weekends and in Alaska I did dinner theater for Princess Cruises," she recounts. That's when her voice gave out and she decided to give it a rest.
In Park City, Kmak got a job at the Deer Valley Resort pre-school. She learned to ski and in the off-season is working as a private "babysitter" for several families. "I have lots of children that I love, but I also have the luxury of giving them back to their biological parents at the end of the day.
"I've become quite passionate about these children over the past year," she continues. "I want these tiny people to be joyful and express themselves however they can. I love to teach them in creative and fun ways. I love the imagination and the boundless possibilities of children. And there is absolutely nothing better than a child's belly laugh. Nothing."
Kmak says the Park City lifestyle suits her. "I really enjoy hiking and camping, and now I'm into skiing too. I also love to play my ukulele and tap dance, though there's not much call for that these days." She adds she's looking forward to some serious kite flying this summer as well.
She's fully recovered from her vocal issues, evidenced by her stellar performance recently in the Park City Follies at the Egyptian Theatre. "Some parents I was working for helped me buy my way into the Follies," she confesses. In the annual spoof, she belted out her songs in spectacular fashion. "I had a lot of fun and hope I get to be in the show next year," she says.
She's not stopping there. Kmak recently auditioned for roles in upcoming productions at the Pioneer Theatre in Salt Lake City and is awaiting a call-back. She's also working with a local improvisation group, getting back to her roots. "You know, I'm trained in CPR and first aid," she explains. My favorite thing is to make people laugh while they're eating so they choke, and then I give them the Heimlich maneuver. I kid, I kid!"
- Favorite things to do: ski, stand-up paddle board, fly kites, Park Silly Sunday market
- Favorite foods: bacon, cheese, sushi, my mom's spaghetti and anything I don't have to make
- Favorite reading: celebrity biographies, e.g. Carol Burnett and Gilda Radner
- Favorite music/performers: jazz, golden oldies and classical; Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Bernadette Peters, Simon & Garfunkel and the Beatles; anything by Stephen Sondheim
- Bucket list: get married and have kids; paragliding; volunteer work in an orphanage
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org