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Tracy Martin is the petite, energetic woman sporting a mass of red hair who introduces shows at Phantom Theater. She is also constantly balancing her roles as artistic director, dancer, actor and instructor, shifting gigs between Warren, Montpelier, Burlington and New York. She admits that her strongest passion is dance. "For me, to dance is to breathe," she said. She loves acting, too, but not to the same extent, "except when I hit the comic timing right."
Debbie New, also a dancer, and chair of the Phantom board, states that "Tracy is the reason Phantom continues to attract such exciting and original work to our theater." Once performers arrive in Warren the common declaration is that they want to move to Vermont forever, so enamored are they of the audiences who show their appreciation and support, the landscape and the friends of Phantom who offer them homes, cars and meals. Martin laughs knowingly, for that's exactly what she did when she came 23 years ago, a recent graduate of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, to perform in David Esbjornson's theater performance, Airbrains. (The director went on to achieve national acclaim for his work.)
This summer is a particularly special one for Martin, for 10 alumni who performed with Tracy starting in the 1990s are returning this year to stage a show called Pure Gold: A Phantom Reunion with Martin a cast member. She said that the emails back and forth have been "brilliant and incredibly funny," which is no surprise as all involved have successful careers in acting, directing, writing and teaching. (A future article will introduce them.) "I'm thrilled that they wanted to return," said Martin, "and glad that what we do here continues to excite and inspire them to make the journey. Their enthusiasm is contagious."
Martin says she can't imagine life without Phantom. "It's how I came to know this place and what made it so interesting." She compares it to off-Broadway theater, "where the heart can sometimes be."
For Phantom Theater's 2013 schedule, go to www.phantom theater.info. Pure Gold: A Phantom Reunion will run Wednesday through Saturday, July 31 to August 3, at 8 p.m. each night. For reservations call 496-5597 and leave a message.