KU News Release

May 10, 2011
Contact: Lauren Beatty, University Relations, 785-864-8856

Graduation stories: Mary McNulty lands not one, but two, post-KU acting jobs

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LAWRENCE — Mary McNulty was a shy child, one who rarely spoke up in class. But she found her voice in the eighth grade, when she took to the stage as the evil queen in a school production of “Snow White.” It was her first foray into the thrilling world of live theater, and it changed her life.

McNulty had thought she wanted to be a veterinarian, but the more she acted and sang in front of audiences, the more she saw herself taking a different path.

Mary McNulty (contributed photo by Lance Tilford Photography)

McNulty, a native of St. Louis, Mo., will graduate this month with a bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre and voice from the University of Kansas. Having starred in nearly a dozen KU-staged plays and musicals, McNulty has become a familiar face to patrons of Murphy Hall productions.

When she first arrived in Lawrence, she knew no one. But she quickly made friends with fellow theatre and music majors in her residence hall and other actors in the University Theatre.

“I could not be more happy that this is where I ended up,” she said of her KU experience.

Her first role at KU was in “The Music Man.” She’s also performed in “Street Scene,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” “Anything Goes” and “The Beaux’ Stratagem,” a show that featured original music written specifically for McNulty.

“I would never have had that happen if I had attended a conservatory,” said McNulty.

Another highlight of her time at KU was participating in a theatre department study abroad program and performing “The Trojan Women” in Greece.

“That was amazing,” she said. “You’re standing in the arena where theater began. The feeling of having a purpose in life could not have been more real.”

In last fall’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” McNulty played Peaseblossom and was the understudy for Titania, the fairy queen. In the production, the KU actors used Shakespeare’s original pronunciation — and it was the first time the play had been staged entirely in original pronunciation in North America.

In fact, that KU show helped McNulty land her first professional acting job. She auditioned for the Lost Nation Theater company in Montpelier, Vt., and the company just happened to be staging its own version of “Midsummer.” As the audition neared its end, McNulty casually mentioned that she’d be happy to read the part of Titania from memory and in original pronunciation. The directors were so impressed, they offered her the role. She’ll be in Vermont throughout the summer.

Not only does McNulty already have one post-graduation acting job lined up, she’s getting ready to sign a contract for another. This time, she’ll be acting in a new musical called “The Confession” at a theater company in Indiana. When that show closes in December, McNulty says she might move to Los Angeles to pursue more acting and singing.

“I envision wonderful things for Mary,” said Genaro Mendez, associate professor of music and McNulty’s voice teacher. “There are no guarantees in the performance world, but I know that Mary will be successful because of her dedication to and love for her work and the stage.”

McNulty is the daughter of Patrick and Tina McNulty of St. Louis, Mo. She is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Louis.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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