June, 2019: Selected to play the role of “Annie” in a piece titled Elderhood (book & lyrics by Rachel Carlson and Charlotte Daniels; music by Charlotte Daniels), Devon Wilke was part of The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts program, ‘Creating Musical Theater: A Collaborative Lab,’ featuring original musicals of select students. Co-taught by Stormy Sacks (musical director) and Randy Brenner (director), legendary Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz mentored the shows, which were presented at the Lovelace Studio Theater at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on June 2nd, 2019.
TRUE TO THE ECLECTIC NATURE OF HER CAREER, and after a long hiatus from acting, Devon Wilke got back on the boards in 2017 as “Helen,” a frustrated documentarian with a lifelong secret, in The Geeze and Me, a funny, irreverent, poignant new musical dealing with the “vicissitudes of aging.” Written by creative team, Nancy Locke Capers (book/director) and Hedges Capers (book/music), and premiered at The Tenth Avenue Arts Center in San Diego, CA, in March/April 2017, the show’s repertoire of 20+ original songs tapped handily into Devon Wilke’s expansive range of vocal styles (“a wondrous singer”…”warm, gritty vocals”), as well as her wealth of theatrical experience.
It wasn’t until the early 90s when To Cross the Rubicon (a screenplay she co-wrote with filmmaker, Patricia Royce) was produced by Seattle indie group, The Lensman Company, that she re-entered the acting arena. Directed by Barry Caillier, it starred both screenwriters, as well as iconic song man, J.D. Souther, and Twilight’s Billy Burke—with David Crosby and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in cameo roles. A small but appreciated gem on the indie circuit at the time, its most enduring significance for Devon Wilke (beyond introducing her to her husband) was both launching her screenwriting career and convincing her to re-embrace the art and craft of acting.
As a member of the prestigious Alliance Repertory Company of Burbank, CA, she appeared in a number of stage productions, most notably THE FINISH LINE, a well-received collage piece on the topic of euthanasia. Controversial and irreverent, Devon Wilke wrote five of the performed pieces, appearing in several, as well as wrote and recorded the show’s titular theme song.
By the late 90s, Devon Wilke was cast as an embittered businesswomen (who got all the blues songs) in the iconic Los Angeles hit, IT IS JUST ME, OR IS IT HOT IN HERE?, an original musical presented by Theatre InSite.
Helmed by award-winning director, Michael Arabian, produced by Matt Goldsby, book & lyrics by Barbara Schill, music by Dave MacKay, and choreographed by Kay Cole (who originated the role of “Maggie” in A Chorus Line), the show ran for eighteen months by way of CBS Radford Studios and the Odyssey Theatre, finishing its successful run at the Century City Playhouse.
Another memorable highlight was COUNTRY, THE MUSICAL. Environmental theater at its best, the original musical won accolades for its inventive staging and music. Devon Wilke starred as an on-the-outs rocker/waitress working a country bar with a much younger singer, both vying for a chance at stardom. The music and book were both written by her husband, producer/attorney Pete Wilke, and the show was directed and choreographed by Kay Cole. With 20 original songs, music director Phil Swann recorded tracks on Music Row in Nashville, lending them appropriate country music bona fides. After a successful run at The Crazy Horse Saloon in Santa Ana, CA, the show was later shot for archival purposes at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, CA.
REVIEW BLURBS FROM The Geeze & Me, San Diego, CA
Charlene Baldridge, La Jolla Village News:
“Helen [is played by] wondrous singer Lorraine Devon Wilke, whose ‘Myself ‘ is one of the show’s most effective numbers.”
Milo Shapiro, Stage and Cinema:
“Also touching is one woman’s interaction with a homeless woman in the poignant ‘Oh, Sister,’ sung by Lorraine Devon Wilke and Erin Vanderhyde.”
James Hebert, San Diego Union Tribune:
“Wilke brings strong, gritty vocals to ‘Myself.’”
David Dixon, San Diego Story:
“Several of his more dramatic numbers are sung tenderly by Wilke, and her emotional singing on ‘If I Ever Smile Again’ touchingly fleshes out Helen.”
Page header photo by Ken Jacques
Collage singer photo by Eric Frahm
Collage headshot by Maureen Grammer
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