Nicole Rothleutner, of Pequot Lakes, has a goal every time she is on stage: She wants to make you feel the show.

That goal goes for the fun scenes, like when she played Jetsam in "The Little Mermaid," Pequot Lakes Community Theatre's last production.

“I enjoyed being Jetsam in 'The Little Mermaid,'” Rothleutner said. “You get to be evil, which is just fun. Then my best friend was Flotsam. It was just us on stage doing our thing. I really enjoyed that.”

That goal is the same when she plays characters like Tuptim in the upcoming PLCT production of "The King and I," which will run Oct. 4-11 and 11-13. Tuptim is a slave who has been given to the king to become part of his harem, but she is a tragic character because Tuptim is in love with another man.

“I have this thing whenever I have a sad number where someone's got to cry - one of you out there," Rothleutner said. "I guess every time I do a show it's to make people feel something. If you're doing sadder scenes, you want to make people really connect with that. Like with happy stuff, you really want people to get into it.”

Rothleutner is a person with a strong sense of empathy, so it is natural that she wants other people to feel the tone of the stage as well. She first decided she wanted to perform on stage at a young age, at the most magical place on Earth.

“The first production I remember thinking, 'I want to do that,' was when my parents took me to see the stage show of 'Beauty and the Beast,' when I was about 8,” Rothleutner said.

Growing up, even when she wasn't performing on stage or watching shows, one could say her empathetic nature made books a sort of live theater playing exclusively for her.

“I guess I'm just a more theatrical person,” Rothleutner said. “I always enjoyed reading out loud in school and reading itself. I don't remember if it's a quote from someone - 'Reading is more of a theater of the mind.' When you're reading, you watch it in your head a little bit. It's fun to take this story someone has written and just experience it more as a visual thing.”

She used to have a keen interest in books, and she sometimes consumed three a week, reading the classics like 'Secret Garden," the Harry Potter series, books her mother bought her, books from the library, or even at one point her grandmother's romance novels.

“I couldn't put them down,” Rothleutner said. “You have that one more chapter thing where you are sitting there trying to read, saying, 'Just one more chapter.'”

Rothleutner shared the excitement and emotions of the characters in the books she consumed, and her enthusiasm was so engrossing she said her mother was never sure if she was telling stories from real life or fiction. That seems to be how she wants her audience to feel.

Growing up in a family with five siblings in Little Falls, then Brainerd, she said she and her younger brother were the only really artsy members of the family. It's only natural that she would want to share that passion. She expects "The King and I" to do just that.

“They're going to love the kids,” Rothleutner said. “Kids are adorable, they just are. They are really fun. Josiah (Sechser), who's the king's heir, is the head prince. He's so talented. He's such an energetic kid. The rest of them you can tell are trying really hard and it's fun to watch.”



'The King and I'

  • What: Pequot Lakes Community Theatre production.
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Oct 4-5 and 11-12, 2 p.m. Oct. 6 and 13.
  • Where: Pequot Lakes High School auditorium.
  • Tickets: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors age 60 and older, $10 for youth age 18 and younger. Call Pequot Lakes Community Education at 218-568-9200 or go online to www.isd186.org and click on "Community Education" and then "GLAPA/PLCT."