Holly’s love of theatre began at Manatee High School in little Bradenton, Florida, where she had leads in plays and musicals throughout those 4 years under the direction of Eugene Mazzone. She was president of the Drama Club, and won a scholarship to attend the University of South Florida, earning the role of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion for USF’s First Annual Shaw Festival, under the direction of Dr. Jack Clay. It was a big success and it was the beginning of Holly’s serious theatre training, including makeup and tech.
At Theatre USF, Holly performed wonderful roles in plays and musicals, among these, Miriam in the world premiere of Miriam, directed by Olga Petrova of the Moscow Art Theatre; Luisa in The Fantasticks; Madame Pernelle in Tartuffe with Canadian actor Paul Massie, fresh from a distinguished career in England; Alice with actor and playwright Ben Piazza in Tiny Alice; Rosalie in Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feeling so Sad with charming comic character actor Albert Sanders; Ann and Superman and Dona Anna in more Shaw Festivals directed by Jack Clay, who went on to found the Southern Methodist University’s theatre Department, and then taught U.W.’s professional actors’ training program; The Mother in Six Characters in Search of an Author for director Peter O’Sullivan with the young actress Barbara Parker, who left lawyering many years hence to become a successful mystery writer; Honor McQuaid in Belle Lamar, a melodrama in which a white actor wore black face, inciting rightful picketing by the NAACP; several characters in The Little Prince, adapted and directed by theatre giant Frank Galati of Northwestern University, who, following his residency at USF, returned to Northwestern to teach and begin his illustrious career adapting books for stage and screen, directing for Steppenwolf Theatre, creating and directing Ragtime and The Grapes of Wrath.
A college theatre tour for the United Services Organization (USO) brought Holly and a troupe of 17 actors to entertain the Northeast Air Command (NORAD) bases in Greenland, Iceland, Labrador and Newfoundland performing A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. This tour was pivotal for Holly, since the R & R component took the players to London, England. London in 1966 was eye-opening, as was seeing Judi Dench in a play at The Old Vic at Stratford upon Avon, Shakespeare country. Holly fell in love with England, and her future took a turn when instead of returning to the states to appear in Penn State’s Summer Theatre Festival with Ned Beatty, she stayed in England and then went to Mallorca with a friend she’d made in Greenland. She had fallen in love with Europe.
With her BA in Theatre from The University of South Florida, Holly was expected by friends to take her illustrious reputation in same on to New York and/or Los Angeles or even Chicago, but Holly chose to move to England, where she felt safe, welcome, and at home. Music became central, and then Davey Graham became central, and she recorded 2 albums with him on Decca – The Holly Kaleidoscope, and President – Godington Boundary, both of which are reissued now on CD. You will find links to them below. She recorded a 3rd album with other artists for ERON records, Folk in Sandwich; it’s hard to find.
With her BA in Theatre from The University of South Florida, Holly was expected by friends to take her illustrious reputation in same on to New York and/or Los Angeles or even Chicago, but Holly chose to move to England in 1968 and her career became music.
Returning to America, she earned her Actor’s Equity card in 1974 doing dinner theatre with greats like Sal Mineo, Andy Devine, Yvonne deCarlo, June Allison, and Mamie VanDoren. So far, this card has given her the opportunity to support the actors’ union. Holly wrote music for and performed in a children’s theatre production of The Little Prince at The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre in Sarasota, and in The Chalice by Doug Johnson, commissioned by the Ringling Art Museum in 1978. She also conceived and directed The Florida Folk Music Radio Theatre Company in classic stories she adapted for her popular radio show called A Tale in Your Ear, running from 1975-78 on WQSR-FM out of Sarasota, Florida.
After relocating to Washington State, Holly did some professional theatre work in Seattle, appeared locally in Olympia with several theatre companies to acclaim, particularly as Sarah McKendry Bonham in Quilters, and Mrs. Gibbs in Our Town, but mostly, Holly has created her own theatrical vehicles. One, performed for The World Peace Forum in Vancouver, BC in 2006, was a retrospective on her 40 years of musical activism, Gallstones in the Belly of the Beast.
From the 80s into 2000s she was an Artist in the Schools doing music and theatre with kids for arts commissions in Washington, Nevada, Alaska and Florida. With the brainstorming inspiration of kids in classes during residencies, Holly wrote 28 original short plays for the classroom dealing with tolerance, bullying, non-violence, peace, alien intelligence (a big theme in the 80s), and teachers taking revenge upon unruly kids. These plays are available from Holly by request.
Holly invented a wonderful way to get kids up and acting which she called “Instant Plays” while working in Young Author’s conferences, and this artform has taken her into the lives of thousands of budding actors via libraries, school assemblies, and residencies over the last 34 years. So, it’s all relative…theatre and music, like riding a bike, never leave you! She brought Harry Potter and Pals in Instant Play format to over 100 library audiences since 2000, and is now lamenting the end of that wonderful series. She did the same for Lemony Snicket’s dark Series of Unfortunate Events, and other books commissioned by libraries, like Naselle’s Our Only May Amelia.
Holly wrote and directed plays and musicals for her children’s theatre company in LaConner, The Kids of Our Age, from 1980 -85, and during residencies around Washington State, Nevada and Florida. See a complete listing on the Music page of this website. Holly is a comic actress with a flair for character acting. She is adept at many accents, a versatile and thoughtful ensemble player, skilled at improvisation. Holly is at work on a new folk/rock musical about America’s addiction to war and the toll it takes on the soul. Her desire to continue work in theatre is undiminished and will light her way to more roles, coming soon to a stage near you.