Gail Becker, Theater
By Sarah Knab | Photographed by Hillary Schave
Artists and arts consumers alike are drawn to Madison to live, work and play. Among the list of worldclass performers to find her foothold here is Gail Becker. Yes—the Gail Becker from the national tour of “Babes in Toyland” and Overture Center’s Cabaret Series. But more importantly, Becker wears the hat of a teacher, mentor, director and inspirer to students and adults throughout the community.
A born-and-raised Chicagoan, Becker relocated to Dane County in 2009 following her career as a Chicago cabaret performer. “I loved Chicago but was ready for more pastoral settings. Madison is a great blend—a beautiful town near lakes and rural settings, but also filled with all of the savvy that every artist dreams to be a part of,” Becker says. “The arts connoisseurs who live and support work here want to see the arts thrive, which is incredible for such a city of this size.”
As a music director and vocal coach, Becker shares the gifts acquired along her journey around Wisconsin through her work with Overture’s Jerry Awards and Ensemble, with 2018 marking Becker’s fifth season as ensemble director.
“I started lessons with Gail in the seventh grade and continued until I left for college. She helped with my involvement in community theater, college auditions, the Jerry Awards and so much more,” says past Jerry Award recipient and ensemble member Kailey Boyles. “I credit her to be an instrumental part of my success as a performer.”
Bringing her incredible experience to the table for young talent, Becker focuses on encouraging careers—on- and off-stage. “In high school if you don’t get into the show, you get to do behind-the-scenes. Don’t think those teens are not as worthy. There are incredible careers in theater arts that don’t involve performance but are still invaluably necessary and are really viable careers,” she explains.
Becker and her colleague Andrew Abrams began Capital City Theatre in 2014, inspired by the need to fill a niche for locally-based, equity musical theater. And they’ve seen growing support over the last few years in terms of increased funding and audiences seeing value in their work. To meet this growing demand for high caliber musical theater, CCT will produce Leonard Bernstein’s “On The Town” on Overture’s Capitol Theater stage in May 2019. Becker also manages “Find your Light,” an intensive program offered via CCT aimed at preparing students for collegiate study of musical theater and auditioning at a professional level.
“I feel as if the youth and arts organizations here are growing at a fantastic speed! I’m so pleased to be along for this ride,” Becker says, beaming. “Mentoring high school students and nurturing a regional musical theater company is a spectacular balance of my career dreams!” capitalcitytheatre.org.