Isabella Bullock: Living Her Theatre Dream

Isabella Bullock: Living Her Theatre Dream

RTG Spotlight

Isabella Bullock credits seeing her aunt Anna Marie Smetana in the play Southern Hospitality in 2010, for getting her interested in theatre in general, and the RTG specifically.

“I loved seeing live theatre in such a professional setting,” she says. “At the theatre was a poster for auditions for Miracle on 34th Street. They needed children, so I decided right then and there to audition.”

Isabella was cast in the ensemble, and she was smitten with the experience of being in her first play. She had taken dance and ballet classes, so was used to performing to an extent. But theatre was magical to her.

“Everything about being cast, doing read-through, going through rehearsals and then performances – I loved it all,” Isabella says. “My mom, Kelly Smetana, started helping with props at the RTG and I tagged along, soaking up the details of theatre.”

She attended Horlick High School and was involved in theatre there. But she kept getting drawn to the RTG.

“I was in the ensemble for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory both years, 2011 and 2012,” she says. “I got to be in all the cool numbers, singing and dancing. Next I was a silly girl in Beauty and the Beast in 2013. I had seen the 2008 production with my class, and it was such a thrill to actually be in that play. It’s my all-time favorite movie and show.”

Isabella has special memories of each of the shows she was in through her high school years: Les Misérables in 2014, Spamalot in 2015, Fiddler on the Roof in 2016, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2017.

“I formed such special bonds with the cast and crew members. I can hardly say enough about the wonderful times I had in each of those musicals. Les Mis was so emotional, and Spamalot was fun, campy and silly, and I loved hearing laughter from the audience. In Fiddler I played Chava, one of the sisters, and that show got me through a tough time with the loss of my best friend. Joseph was such a highlight, too, and I was the dancer in the song Canaan Days.”

Tucked in there was Isabella’s first foray into a non-musical show, playing the daughter in One Slight Hitch in 2014. “It was my first big role, and I was so grateful for the help of Jerry Rannow and Shawn Britten, who played my parents. Every role has been a learning experience and helped me with my acting skills.”

Isabella went to Liverpool, England, for two years of college, at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, majoring in acting. She had to audition to get accepted, and she loved the immersive theatre experience.

“And what was most special was that I met the man I was going to marry. I married Callum Bullock in 2022, and while he is an engineer, he indulges my love of theatre.”

Upon her return to Racine, Isabella was asked to be the stage manager for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2019). “I had a ton of cues to call for that show,” she says. “It really was fun to be so busy and so vital to a production in a different way.”

Isabella was assistant stage manager for Lost in Yonkers in 2019, stage managed Mousetrap in 2019, stage managed On Golden Pond in 2020, and helped with microphones for the school shows for The Wizard of Oz (2020). She was the young ingénue in A Fox on the Fairway in 2020 which “challenged me to do physical comedy,” she shared. Then came the pandemic shutdown. “It was a hard, hard time for everyone.”

In 2023, Isabella was the understudy for all the female roles in Perfect Wedding.

“And wouldn’t you know, one of the actresses came down with COVID. So I went on for five performances in a role I hadn’t rehearsed. Everyone was so supportive, and it turned out to be a fabulous experience. Then I was the sister in The Tin Woman, and that was emotional and brilliant.”

Being on the playreading committee for the 85th season was another new challenge. “It takes lots of time to read so many plays and discuss with the other committee members to find the right mix of shows suitable for our audiences and the talent pool we have. I chaired the committee the next year, for the 86th season. I pushed for Rent and stage managed it, my first musical as SM. And I knew I absolutely wanted to be involved in Now and Then, which I’m stage managing.”

Isabella’s enthusiasm for theatre is infectious. “I can’t imagine myself doing anything other than theatre. I work at Walgreen’s and have a terrific manager who lets me arrange my schedule to allow time for the RTG. Theatre is a magical thing that we humans get to do together, with an insanely talented group of people. I feel so lucky to be involved in the RTG. I want everyone to love Now and Then as much as I do.”

I hope we will, and we are fortunate to have someone like Isabella at the RTG, sharing her passion for theatre.