Brookfield Central grad to tell musical story from Broadway career
Krombach Packard looking forward to local show
As a seasoned veteran in Broadway musicals, Brookfield Central graduate Chelsea Packard (formerly Krombach) has performed in front of thousands of people over the years.
She's held roles, including some leading ones, in "Legally Blonde," "Wicked" and "Promises, Promises" and has even toured the country as a singer with new friend Kristin Chenoweth, a popular singer/actress.
Now, Packard, a 30-year-old musical theater performer and jazz singer who has made New York City her home, is returning to Wisconsin to perform for the first time since graduating from Central in 2001.
Her family, friends and instructors from her childhood will finally get to see what others around the country have witnessed in the last 10-plus years.
Packard will tell her story through the musical theatre songs and jazz standards that have made her a Broadway sensation in a one-night-only, solo cabaret titled "The Story of My Life" at Next Act Theatre in downtown Milwaukee. The show begins at 7 p.m.
"I'm hoping that I'll see a lot of Brookfield people come out and see it," Packard said.
One person, in particular, she hopes to see is her former Choir Director at Central, Phil Olson. And a couple of people who started her along her path — band director Jason Gillette and theater director Tommy Lueck — will accompany her on stage for a few acts.
An early love of the stage
Packard was born to entertain.
She started with the piano and loved to sing at an early age. While at Brookfield Elementary, she played one of the munchkins in Brookfield Central's "Wizard of Oz."
"It was my first big experience," Packard said. "I was hooked."
She performed with various youth groups, including the Sunset Playhouse Community Theater, to improve her singing, acting and confidence on stage. After many leading roles in high school, she took her act to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and built connections there.
Along the way, she auditioned for many plays. Her break came when she landed a spot on Broadway's "Wicked" national tour, where she met her future husband, Geoff.
But Packard earned her biggest opportunity when she performed as a Broadway regular for "Wicked" in New York City.
"It was the scariest thing I've ever done," Packard said, recalling the first time she was the leading lady for "Wicked." "It was terrifying but truly exhilarating. It was a huge success."
For her, playing Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde" last year at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Ill., outside of Chicago — her first leading role — was "exciting, being so close to home."
"I always knew I would perform for a living, I just didn't know that it would take me this far away from home," Packard said. "So doing this show is one of the reasons I'm so excited to come back."
Mentoring young actors
While it's her first time performing in the area since high school, Packard has returned the past three summers with her husband for workshops called "The Broadway Intensive."
During these camps, the two teach young musical theatre artists choreography from shows they've done as well acting techniques. They want to serve as mentors to aspiring young performers.
"We both grew up far from New York City and I didn't have anyone who had gone before me that became an actor as a role model," Packard said. "(Mentoring) allows me to give back to the arts community in Brookfield. It's very fulfilling."
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