Lindsey Noel Whiting has always been an actor. But, over the past few years, she has taken her craft to another level, literally. She is a trained aerialist as well, who soars through the air with the greatest of ease. Look for her as the Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol at Actors Theatre running through December 23. She is suspended by silks for much of the show, guiding Scrooge through his past. She brings a fresh, modern take on this classic role. This Chicago-based actor has played this part five times and has performed at Actors Theatre in various productions since 2009. She loves Louisville, her temporary home every year, and loves exploring our city. What does she do when she is not suspended in air? Well, she makes pancakes with her husband. In truth, she has made over 100,000 tiny pancakes just last year for their pancake business, Long Table Pancakes. Where she found the time in her busy theater schedule, we will never know. Meet our charming, fearless and sky-bound FACE of Louisville this week: Lindsey Noel Whiting of Fifth Third Bank’s A Christmas Carol.
How did you get your start in acting?
I did my first play when I was in fifth grade. It was a community theater production of Fiddler on the Roof, and my mom and my best friend were both in it. My best friend had been doing plays since she was basically a baby, so, absurdly, I felt like I was getting a late start.
Tell us about your transition into a more “active” form of acting — being an aerialist.
After I graduated college, I started taking a circus skills class at The Actors Gymnasium in Chicago and was hooked. I’ve done a number of theatrical shows that have incorporated aerial work and circus, and I feel like that expanded physical vocabulary can bring something visceral and dynamic to the storytelling.
Your role as The Ghost of Christmas Past breathed new life into A Christmas Carol. In your opinion, what did the aerial component do to change this classic play?
The description of The Ghost of Christmas Past in the novel is a little vague — an androgynous figure with a head of fire that fades in and out of view — but Dickens is really clear that the spirit and Scrooge go flying over London. Getting Past in the air makes sense and the silks serve as a very expressive medium; not only is the figure of Past elevated, but you get to see the silks cascade and billow in an otherworldly way. It also helps Past claim some status. Our Scrooge, John Preston, is very tall and towers over me, but when I’m flipping around above his head it’s easier to believe that I’m the one calling the shots.
Do you choreograph your scenes?
I brought some proposals to Drew Fracher, our director, and together we decided on what kind of physicality would work best for the scenes.
What do you do to keep in top shape for this performance?
I try to give myself 45 minutes to an hour to warm up before each show, mostly doing injury prevention exercises and stretching. I get a lot of sleep, I try to eat a healthy diet and I try to stay hydrated, but that’s about it. Once the show is up and running, my main health goal is not to get sick.
What is next on the horizon for you?
There are some directing projects in Chicago that I’m really excited about. I’m co-directing the Winter Circus at The Actors Gymnasium with Frank Maugri, and then I’ll be directing a play for the Young Ensemble at Lookingglass Theatre.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
Boy, there are so many different things I’d like to do, but I don’t know that I’ve been very secretive about any of it. I’d like a job where I could work with animals. I’d like a job where I could be outside more often. I’d like to work in a yarn store or do something related to knitting. I’d also love to do something that allowed me to travel internationally.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
My husband and I made around 100,000 tiny pancakes in the last year. We run Long Table Pancakes, a family business that sells small-batch pancake mix, and at farmers’ markets, we make tiny pancakes as samples. We figure we’ve at least made more tiny pancakes than any couple in their first year of marriage, but it’s hard to find the data to support that claim.
What are three words that describe you?
Playful, intuitive and curious.
What advice do you treasure?
Drew started our rehearsal process for A Christmas Carol by talking about why the story was meaningful for him personally. He said Scrooge has wasted his life, but by a miracle he gets a second chance. But not everyone is so lucky. “Life is short,” Drew said. “Don’t waste time.”
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my _________.
I usually carry a knitting project with me, especially if I’m going to be in a situation where I’ll have to sit quietly. I’m not very good at sitting still.
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
So far I’ve made four visits to Cave Hill Cemetery, so statistically you’re likely to find me there if I’m not at the theater. It’s one of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve ever visited, and the trees are doing really beautiful things this time of year.
Favorite thing to do in Louisville?
I really love exploring the outdoor spaces in and around Louisville. I brought my bike this year and have enjoyed taking a ride along the river when the weather is nice enough. This city has such beautiful parks and public spaces, so I’m trying to get outside as much as I can.
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
Proof on Main is a favorite and is dangerously close to the theater, so that’s one of my go-to places. I’m planning to go to Game when my husband visits; he had a veggie burger there that was so good, he wrote a note to the chef. Hammerheads and Harvest are both on my list too.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
I really tried to travel light this trip, so I only brought a knitting book, a mushroom identification guide and a copy of A Tale of Two Cities. And, in case that list wasn’t nerdy enough, when I get back to Chicago, I’ll likely steal my husband’s copy of The Storm Before The Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic.
What are three of your favorite things right now?
Lately I’ve been thinking about slow fashion — it’s basically like slow cooking but for clothes. The emphasis is on wearing handmade, second-hand or long-wearing clothes as opposed to buying new items every season. I’m trying to incorporate my own knitwear into my wardrobe, and I’m learning some basic sewing techniques, so I can mend and alter the clothes I have.
I brought my ukulele on this trip and there are a few other folks in the cast who have instruments. Getting together with people to play music is such a lovely way to spend an evening, especially as the weather gets colder.
And I know I’ve mentioned knitting a few times, so I’ll cheat a bit and say my third favorite thing right now is yarn. I tried to pack light with regards to everything except yarn; I basically brought every skein I have with me.
Thank you Adele Reding Photography for the beautiful pictures.
To be inspired by other great women in Louisville, check out our other FACES of Louisville here.