There’s a song from Sunday in the Park With George that Katie Welsh ’15 sings in the Stephen Sondheim cabaret show she developed as part of her senior thesis at Princeton. Titled “Move On,” it relays the experiences of Dot, a character who has gained wisdom, strength, and confidence over the course of the show:
I chose, and my world was shaken —
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not.
You have to move on.
“In many ways, I feel like I’m having to tell that to myself,” says Welsh, a self-described perfectionist who is pursuing performance professionally. And though she may be moving on from her undergraduate days, Welsh continues to draw inspiration from the research that she did at Princeton. On Friday, June 10, she will perform “Women in the World of Sondheim” with accompanist Emily Whitaker ’15 at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York.
Welsh’s deep interest in Sondheim began with a seminar taught by theater professor Stacy Wolf, who showed her that there was so much to appreciate in Sondheim’s work: complex harmonies, explorations of human frailty, and extraordinary characters. Conversations with Wolf eventually inspired Welsh to pursue a joint English and theater thesis — a 100-page paper and a carefully curated performance of 12 songs, each featuring a different woman from a Sondheim musical.
It’s not your typical cabaret: The patter between songs draws connections between characters and gives insights into Sondheim’s work. But at the same time, Welsh aims to maintain the tone of an entertainer. “I never wanted it to be a lecture,” she says. “It’s a show.”
While her peers may have hoped to publish their theses in major journals, Welsh had her own vision of “the pinnacle” for her thesis show: bringing it to the stage in New York City.
“I feel really grateful that it has had this kind of after-life,” she says. “It’s been such a gift.”
For details about “Women in the World of Sondheim” at Feinstein’s/54 Below, visit 54below.com.