Like mother, like daughter
When Lauryn Hurley was a few months old, she used to sit in her car seat in the audience, smiling and cooing at her mom on stage.
Now, 17 years later, the Shawnee mother-daughter acting force share the spotlight.
This week, both of them are lighting up the stage in “Crazy for You” at Theatre in the Park.
The romantic comedy features beloved Gershwin tunes, tap dancing and nostalgic vaudeville humor.
Lauryn, a soon-to-be senior at Mill Valley High School, plays a Follies girl in the ensemble. Her mom, Trudy, plays the main character’s overbearing mother, Lottie.
“This is our 11th show together,” Lauryn calculated to her mom as they sat in a coffee shop on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Trudy wasn’t surprised.
They’re an acting family spanning three generations. Theatre in the Park is their home away from home.
The first theatrical performance Trudy ever saw was at Theatre in the Park back in 1972 when she was 5 years old.
It was a performance of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“A real hot air balloon came down from an island in the middle of the lake,” she recalled. “It really impressed me.”
Ten years later, when she was 15, she tried out for Theatre in the Park with her dad and younger sister. They were all cast in “The Music Man.”
In the summer of 1984, her mom joined them in the summer shows.
After graduating from college, Trudy moved to New York City to try her luck on Broadway.
Instead of finding stardom, she found love.
She soon married Paul Hurley, a paralegal who adored watching her perform in her off-off-Broadway shows.
In the mid-1990s, they moved to Shawnee to start and raise a family.
By 1998, Trudy was back to performing in Theatre in the Park shows, and other community theater.
“When I was in New York City, I loved doing theater, but I loved the security of a full-time job as well,” said Trudy, who is now a representative with a financial advisory group.
Her passion for performing was passed down to her daughter, who starred in her first show, Guys and Dolls, at the age of 4, playing a street urchin.
While her outgoing mother thrives on stage without an ounce of stage-fright, Lauryn loves theater for a different reason.
“I’m less outgoing than the rest of my family so for me, theater is a great way to meet people and make friends and express myself,” she said. “It’s a way to showcase things I’ve been learning my whole life, like singing and dancing. I can’t imagine what I would be doing without theater.”
She also calls acting “emotionally exhausting but completely gratifying.”
After all, she points out, acting requires a performer sharing a big part of themselves with everyone, whether it be fellow cast members or the audience.
“You take risks and you’re vulnerable and you build trust with the people around you,” she said. “It’s like family.”
The closeness of each performance family has been a comfort to Lauryn and Trudy in recent years.
Several years ago, husband and father Paul became an amputee due to diabetes complications.
A large group of theater friends, many from Theatre in the Park, held a web-a-thon and raised nearly $30,000 to offset the cost it took the Hurley family to renovate their home to be wheelchair accessible.
When Paul passed away from diabetes complications in November of 2015, the Kansas City theater community embraced the family. Lauryn’s Mill Valley theater family also comforted her as well.
Once “Crazy for You” ends this weekend, the mother and daughter will be looking towards the future.
Lauryn plans to spend the rest of her summer filling out college applications.
Her goal is to major in music theater; her dream is to attend New York University.
“Everyone’s dream is to go to New York City and make it, but community theater has taught me that if that doesn’t happen, I could be a drama teacher or a voice coach,” Lauryn said. “Theater will always be a part of my life no matter what I do for a career.”
While some parents might hesitate when their kid decides to chase after showbiz, Trudy couldn’t be prouder.
After all, she can’t imagine not supporting her daughter’s decision.
Passion for theater runs in their blood.
“You need incredible drive and ambition to make it in New York,” Trudy said. “I think Lauryn should try because I don’t want her to give up on her dream.”
Crazy for You performances take place at 8:30 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Theatre in the Park, 7710 Renner Rd.
For ticket information, visit theatreinthepark.org.