Do you remember what want you wanted to be when you grow up? Do you recall that one dream job you always wanted to aspire to? Some kids want to be astronauts while others want to fire fighters or police officers or even the President of the United States.
Ashley Potkulski, a junior musical theater major at Wilkes University, has chased her dream of writing and performing her own original music since she was just a little girl.
“When you have a bad, or if you miss someone who’s passed away, you have to freak out or punch wall or outwardly get upset,”Potkulski said. “You can write a song about it.”
Potkulski explained that writing songs is a good way to keep you connected and remember a lot of things.
“You can put your own emotion into your music.”
According to Potkulski, having to parents who were very musically inclined and played the guitar was very influential on her journey to pursuing a musical career.
“My mother had a beautiful voice. She used to sing to me all the time when I was a kid.”
Music resonated very strongly in her life and she shared the one of her earliest experiences working with a touring a cappella group called the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chorus which toured and performed in cities all over the eastern United States.
“We performed a lot in my home state of New Jersey, but we also toured a lot and I liked that so much because I got to see a lot of the country.”
Potkulski explained that one of her most memorable and exiting performance wit the Rock ‘n’ Roll chorus was at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, where she had the time of her life as audience and passers-by alike all gathered to watch her group sing. There was a connection, she explained, that you can’t get any other way between you and your audience.
She also remembers her greatest moment as a singer performing the song “Pulled” from the Addams Family Musical.
“There’s a feeling when you’re singing, that you just know it’s going to be your moment and I had that moment,” she said. “It’s a very fulfilling moment.”
She explained that as a musical performer that moment can be very defining and when you’re out there and singing for the crowd it can make or break you.
Performance also allows you the freedom of breaking away from being yourself as well, Potkulski explained.
“It’s fun to just pretend to be someone every once and while. Yea, it’s great to be you, but it kind of gets old. You get to walk in someone else’s shoes and think differently.”
Among the roles she’d love to play, not the least of which is Elphaba from the Broadway musical Wicked.
“Defying gravity was the first song that was taught to actually belt. That’s when I realized that I had an extremely powerful voice,” Potkulski said.
“Elphaba is spunky and the music is amazing. For me it’s a lot to do with the music. Acting comes second, but I don’t feel that you can be a singer without being an actor.”
Most recently, Potkulski played Jojo in Seussical the Musical for Wilkes Univeristy at the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center, which she found to be especially fun because she had to play a boy.
“It was a lot of fun, but when I was younger I was kind of tomboyish and a lot of my friends were guys so I just remembered what it was like being around them a lot how you can get into that sort of role.”
She also explained that Jojo was at a certain age where you’re still exploring who you are and what kind of person you’re going to be. So, in that respect there’s a great deal of learning and wonder that goes on in Jojo’s mind.
“Working with children at the YMCA also helped me a lot,” she said. “You watch these little people at a point in their lives when there isn’t that much a difference between boys and girls yet. They’re not nervous around each other yet. They’re not worried about cooties. They’re minds are still full of wonder and that’s kind of where I saw Jojo.”
Ashley Potkulski is cast to play Carrie in the upcoming horror musical inspired by the novel written by Steven King. Carrie the Musical will be performed this November as part of Wilkes 2014-2015 season.
Potkulski reflects that as a performer you have to let your imagination run free. “Part of performing is pretending that you’re a kid again,” she said, “And every adult’s dream is to act like a kid again.”