Whether performing, teaching, or directing, Caitlin Rose has been a vibrant and integral part of the Ashtabula Arts Center for years. She first got involved in 2004, when she was part of the ensemble in Les Miserables: Student Edition. Tonight, she takes the stage as “Belle” for the first of her three appearances in the G.B. Community Theatre production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in Concert. This weekend’s shows will be her final performances before she, like Belle, undertakes a larger adventure: teaching drama and music as head of the new musical theater program at the Raha International School in Abu Dhabi.
In addition to Les Mis, Caitlin’s early roles at the arts center included “Wendy” in Peter Pan in 2005 and “the Girl” in The Fantasticks in 2006. She’s also taught voice, and has held production roles in many shows, including director and music director for last year’s Seussical, Jr., director of last summer’s The Wedding Singer, and music director for The Addams Family in October. “My first role on a production team at the AAC was Peter Pan, Jr. as music director, a story that’s always been close to my heart,” she recalled. Her work with her students is her proudest accomplishment from her work at the arts center: “[seeing] my students grow not only into wonderful performers but genuine, kind individuals who work their tails off. I am in complete awe of them and their work. I really lucked out with them as a teacher.”
Caitlin has no shortage of favorite memories from her years at the arts center, describing “a series of moments with my dearest friends here. Kim Godfrey, Rachel Meyer, Debbie Fleming, Christy Seymour…countless others. The friendships and stories we’ve all created together.” She does single out one very special connection, though: “It’s reconnecting with the love of my life, my best friend, and fellow arts center employee and performer, Brandon Carlson. I’m forever grateful for what the arts center has brought to me in my professional and personal life.”
In Beauty and the Beast, Caitlin will perform, fittingly, alongside her father, Jonathan Rose. She said of the experience, “This has by far been my favorite role onstage at the AAC, not only because Belle is my dream role, but because I get to share it with my father, who portrays Belle’s father, Maurice. Our song together is one of my favorites in the show because it’s a genuine performance. He’s a little bit of an absent-minded professor, and I’m the dreamer and adventurer. I’m so proud of him and my family. I’m thankful for their never ending support, ‘No Matter What.’”
Looking ahead, Caitlin said the things she’s most looking forward to in her new position are discovering new ways to teach and meeting students and teachers of all nationalities. “I’m especially thankful to be teaching theater and music. No matter what language you speak or where you’re from, the arts are universal. They connect with all of humanity.” She leaves her students, fellow actors, and audiences with one last bit of direction: “Don’t be afraid to take risks. Make choices. Whether you’re challenged with a role on stage or given an opportunity to fly across the world for a job, take the risk. Go for what you want and do it with your whole heart. My favorite phrase is ‘do the crossword in pen.’ It could change your whole life.”
Beauty and the Beast in Concert runs for two weekends, January 13-15 and January 20-22. “Belle” will be played by Caitlin Rose the first weekend, and by Libby Kendzerski the second.