A night to remember: Green Bay native shines at Tony Awards
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – The final performance of the 75th annual Tony Awards, Sunday, June 12 – a title track mashup from the Broadway show “Six” – included a familiar face.
Mallory Maedke, a Green Bay native and 2010 Notre Dame Academy (NDA) graduate, stepped in for one of the musical’s principal stars, who tested positive for COVID-19 just 12 hours before the show-stopping performance.
To say the midwestern-girl-at-heart was nervous as she walked out onto the stage of New York City’s Radio City Music Hall for the 75th annual Tony Awards would be an understatement.
“I had no idea I would be doing the Tony’s,” Maedke said. “I got the call the day before. They reserved me a tiny studio to talk through what version of the medley we would be performing the next day – just me and our two associates, Megan Farley and Eliza Ohman, with my stage manager Peyton Becker.”
Maedke said she was terrified knowing the first time she would step onto the “ginormous Radio City Music Hall stage” would be in full makeup, hair and costume.
“I had 30 seconds to see the stage before we performed,” she said. “I wasn’t at any of the rehearsals at the venue because of COVID protocols, so it was all new territory. I was nervous all day, as I just wanted to do well for our team, the show and for Abby Mueller, who couldn’t be there.”
Maedke said she stayed calm by reminding herself of the many people supporting her.
“From all over, my fiancé, family, friends, the other alternates and all the swings and understudies across the country,” she said. “I carried that with me and I gave it my all for them.”
Dance captain, swing
As dance captain for “Six,” a pop concert musical about Henry VIII’s six wives, Maedke maintains the choreography that was originally set by the choreographer, Carrie-Anne Ingrouille.
“I give notes weekly to the ladies in my cast to keep the choreo clean and efficient for as long as the show runs,” she said.
Maedke is also a swing, or understudy, for three of the show’s roles.
“They are all principal roles, which is unusual for a dance captain to cover,” she said. “I have to be ready at a moment’s notice to go on for any of the three at any time. All of these roles rarely leave the stage, so it’s the most challenging job I’ve ever had.”
Maedke took the stage June 12 as Jane Seymour in the performance of a lifetime, never missing a beat – even receiving a special shout-out from Tony’s host and award-winning “West Side Story” actress Ariana DeBose, who took a moment to highlight the importance of understudies, and how in awe she was of Maedke’s performance.
“It’s what they do because the show must go on,” DeBose told the audience.
Performing from a young age
Maedke said she has always loved to sing and has been dancing since she was two and a half.
“When I realized I could do both and act, I discovered musical theater for the first time and wanted to be part of it,” she said.
Maedke said she grew up dancing at Shirley Van’s Dance Studio.
“Lorraine Louiser was the best dance teacher ever,” she said. “She instilled physical training and heart in me. Without that discipline, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Maedke said that support and guidance continued through the years – her eye always on the prize, being on Broadway.
“My teachers and vocal coaches throughout my younger years in Green Bay each taught me individual things that kept my voice healthy, and worked on my voice like a muscle,” she said. “I trained in Minnesota every weekend for a whole year my sophomore year,” she said. “I trained with the International Music and Talent Association. I auditioned and performed in front of agents, producers, writers and reps from all over the world in Los Angeles.”
Maedke was also an active member of NDA’s swing choir and musical performances.
“I auditioned and got to join the incredible swing choir led by Andrea Hearden and Teresa Schmidt and was in it all four years at NDA,” she said. “I was also in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Sound of Music,” “Godspell” and played Fiona in “Brigadoon” my senior year. Some incredible memories and training came from these two leaders. They ignited my sense of hardwork and dedication to the arts.”
NDA interim principal Hearden, who taught Maedke during her time at NDA, said she is “absolutely thrilled to see her effort and attitude bring this great moment to her life.”
“Big dreams do come true,” Hearden said. “Mallory is intelligent, creative, resilient and hard working, as well as kind and generous. Our community is so proud of Mallory for her contribution to the performing arts.”
After high school, Maedke went on to Columbia College in Chicago where she obtained a degree in musical theater in 2014.
“I’ve trained at dance studios in Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.,” she said. “I also recently started working with vocal coach Jared Trudeau.
Without him during the show “Six,” I wouldn’t be able to do what I do every day and be ready vocally at a moment’s notice.”
Maedke credits much of her success to the people, experiences and values she grew up with in Northeast Wisconsin.
“I always wanted to be on Disney Channel – ha!” she said. “Everyone at NDA always believed in me, were always supportive and believed I could do this for a living. I’ve been very lucky in that sense.”
Maedke said Wisconsinites are a rare breed, one she is proud to be a part of.
“People in Wisconsin know how to support with their whole being,” she said. “I gained that trait as well and love cheering everyone on around me or far away. It’s something that’s ingrained in everyone I know from Green Bay. NDA gave me the tools and training to be where I am today.”
Maedke said the values Hearden and Schmidt instilled in her during her high school years have stuck with her through her career.
“Their advice was always to stay present and connect to what you are doing in your performance,” she said. “And to be nice to everyone.”
Maedke encourages others with similar aspirations to always believe in themselves.
“If you dream it, you can do it,” she said. “Even if you don’t have the support from others around you, I always say ‘let it fuel you.’ You can achieve your dreams, always perform for yourself and no one else, don’t compare yourselves to anyone else and their journey and be kind – you’ll get there.”
Though Maedke is still riding the high of arguably the biggest night of her career, she said she’s excited to come home in a couple of weeks.
“I miss west Green Bay and Door County so much,” she said. “I worked up there in the summertime and will be visiting in a couple weeks to plan my wedding there. Having my wedding in Wisconsin feels so right. My fiancé Herb Porter and I are truly so excited to be home again on vacation. Everyone at home is always so welcoming and nice, and I miss that midwestern energy every day.”
Maedke’s performance at the Tony Awards can be seen on YouTube.