Maren makes return to Red WingJennifer Maren has walked across many stages.
By: Stacy Bengs, The Republican Eagle
Jennifer Maren has walked across many stages.
As the Twin Cities-based performer prepares for her tour with the Illusion Theater’s production of “My Antonia,” a uniquely familiar stage in the lineup welcomes her back home Saturday Feb. 11: the Sheldon Theatre.
Maren, a 1993 Red Wing High School graduate, returns 18 years after her last performance on the stage where her acting career sprout.
Originally from Fond du Lac, Wis., Maren lived in Hager City until second grade when her family moved to Red Wing. Choir, band and orchestra offered outlets to advance her developing talent with the friendly push of supportive teachers.
“I had great mentors … they were very instrumental in creating my love for music and theater,” she said, “which is still true to this day.”
Young, ambitious and willing to take a risk, Maren took a shot at an audition for the 1991 spring musical, “My Fair Lady.”
Cast by director Sean Dowse, Maren got a taste of the limelight with a role as the elderly Mrs. Pearce.
“She was a highlight of the show,” Dowse said, “I am not surprised she has continued in theater.”
Maren had found her calling, continuing to act in local musicals – even if she didn’t get a lead role.
After her attitude-filled senior spring musical audition, her world was about to be shook-up as the cast list was displayed.
“We thought since we were seniors we should get everything handed to us a platter,” she laughed, “including the lead roles.”
But when director Jaye Pierick cast her in a smaller role for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Maren’s natural assumption of a lead was quickly squashed.
“I was very upset,” she said, “but ended up having the best time and to this day would rather do the smaller funny character roles.”
She and Pierick remain close friends to this day.
Maren went on to study theater arts at St. Olaf College in Northfield, then onto the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, London.
In 1998, she moved to St. Paul and has been acting professionally since.
“We don’t make Jennifer Aniston salaries,” she said of her industry. “But you get creative when you want to follow your dreams.”
Juggling around three or four part-time jobs to support her passion is the norm for Maren, who said she choses positions to accommodate her acting schedule.
Working on one of her first jobs in Minneapolis as a singing server at Backstage at Bravo, Maren found herself in an unexpected spotlight. Donny Osmond was in town, playing the lead in the national touring production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and just so happened to be doing a radio broadcast from her work.
“They asked if anyone on staff knew any songs from the musical because they would like us to sing for him and the audience,” Maren said, “I was the only one who did, so I got up and started to sing.”
Suddenly, Osmond chimed in.
“I ended up doing a full duet with Donny Osmond,” Maren said with a laugh. “All because I was cast in my ensemble part years ago. So you never know where even the smallest parts may lead.”
You may have heard Maren on one of her many voice-over jobs, namely for Target commercials or have seen her on an episode of NBC’s super-hit show, “The Office,” where she worked next to funnyman Steve Carell.
“The experience was mind-boggling,” Maren said of working on set with Carell.
She has also been on NBC’s “Law and Order.”