When Jamie Weeder did multiple roles in the Blackbird Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream two years ago, she found herself playing three characters in the same scene. Director Barton Bund considered making a recording, so one character’s voice could emanate from backstage. Weeder found a more theatrical way to meet the challenge: she remained onstage, partly hidden behind a curtain, popping her head in and out while wearing different hats–all the while changing costumes behind the curtain.
“Jamie is my Swiss Army knife,” Bund says of Weeder, who will do the roles of Caliban, Ariel, Alonso, and Iris in this month’s production of The Tempest at West Park (see main story, above). “She can do anything. She is naturally funny. She’s quick and inspired and gets it and goes with it.”
Other producers soon took note. Tony Caselli, artistic director of the Williamston Theatre, wanted to cast her in Home, but when the Blackbird extended the run of Patty Hearst: The New Musical–Weeder was Patty–she had to turn him down. Shortly thereafter, The New Theatre Project asked her to do the lead in Cloud Tectonics, a play with some dialogue in Spanish, which she doesn’t speak. “Jamie stops at nothing to be accurate,” TNTP artistic director Keith Paul Medelis observes. “She insisted on getting the language down. She’s a perfectionist, and she works hard to give a truthful performance.”
Guy Sanville, artistic director of the Purple Rose Theatre, was swept away by Weeder’s performance in Cloud Tectonics–“I’ve seen productions in New York that weren’t as good,” he says. In short order, Weeder was doing a staged reading of a new play at the Purple Rose and another at the Performance Network Theatre’s Fireside Fest.
And then Caselli asked Weeder, also an accomplished musician, to play cello in Oedipus, and off she went to the Williamston. “Her sensitivity as a performer was really wonderfully put to use as she worked away on her cello, inventing underscoring for scenes as we rehearsed them!” says Caselli. She played cello again for Encore Musical Theatre’s Nevermore in Dexter, then signed on as an actor for TNTP’s next season.
Weeder, twenty-six, has come a long way from her student days at EMU, where she began as a music major. When she switched to theater, she didn’t get cast at first. “Theater majors wondered, ‘Who the hell is this chick?'” she recalls.
They got their answer fast. Directors praise Weeder’s ability to play all kinds of roles. “I love dark characters,” she says. “I can find aspects of myself in everyone.” She throws herself into each role she plays, even dreaming in character.
“She has a relentless desire, and she knows how to audition well,” says Bund. Weeder is now represented by two talent agents, and Bund expects her to go far.
Between shows, she likes to “build up experience. Otherwise, you wind up drawing from other theatrical works when you perform or write,” she says. She has managed an ice cream parlor and worked for a tree preservation company, and currently she assists a veterinarian at the Easthaven Animal Hospital. She’s also into slam poetry, she’s writing a play, and she hopes to do some directing.
But it’s her exceptional acting talent that has put her on the most-wanted list at theaters in the area. Jamie Weeder is on the verge of something big.