By Susan T. Hessel —
Megan Thingvold was in the fifth grade when she made her stage debut at Hintgen Elementary School in La Crosse. She was quite excited, as she grew up watching her father, Steven Larson, in various shows at La Crosse Community Theatre (LCT).
On this day, she was chosen to be in “The Barber of Seville” at her school. “I had three lines and I was so excited. All of a sudden I forgot everything,” she said. “I didn’t remember a single word. My face was bright red.”
Thingvold, a retail relationship banker for BMO Harris Bank, said each play since then comes with “a roller coaster of emotions.” “When I was growing up, theatre was the only place where I felt I belonged. When I audition for a play now, I get really excited. I research the play and feel like I know the characters inside and out. That’s just for an audition,” she said. “I don’t do too many plays. When I see my name on a cast list, I have a paralyzing fear about what I got myself into. I tell myself that I will never be able to memorize all those lines.”
But she always comes through. So much so that she was voted “Best Actress” in Best of La Crosse County 2018, along with “Best Actor,” Dustin Luecke. They performed together in “And Then There Were None” at LCT.
Her father also performed in that production, turning her lifelong dream of appearing on stage with him into a reality. “All I wanted to do since I was a child was to be in a play with my father.”
Performing together was a thrill for both of them. As her father said, “I enjoyed the whole experience with Megan; she’s come a long way as an actor. I particularly enjoyed the second week of performances when we were more comfortable on stage with our characters and I could explore subtle changes in my line delivery, movement and eye contact from performance to performance to see what kind of reaction I would get from her.”
For Luecke, the family theatre connection is with his wife, Dominique Sicard, who was involved in casting for a student production company when they attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. “She didn’t cast me. But she took me on for the most important role,” he said, referring to their marriage.
Luecke and Sicard performed together in 2015 in “The 39 Steps” at LCT (pictured in the photo at the top of the page), a humorous take on the old Alfred Hitchcock movie. “My wife played three of my romantic leads that my character, Richard, encountered in the play,” he said.
His first stage production as a kid was when he was in a Christmas pageant at St. Patrick Elementary School in Onalaska, and he was in high school productions. “I focused on my career choice of broadcasting for a while,” said Luecke, who is the morning co-anchor at WXOW, Channel 19. Being in “Noises Off” in 2013, “I was bit with the theatre bug,” he said.
He has since been in eight shows on stage and two behind the scenes. Now with two very young children, he and his wife mostly take turns in shows. “It’s important to both of us. It’s a key part of our relationship.”
Both Thingvold and Luecke are honored to be named as local theatre favorites in the competition. “I am so lucky that I am able to work with all the talented actors and actresses and playwrights in the community,” Luecke said. “I am really flattered by this honor as well.”
Thingvold said, “I never had anything like this before. I’m a little bit humbled. It is just something I do because it makes me feel good. To have other people say I made them feel good enough to vote for me, it’s pretty special.”