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Meet Kristina Huegel of freeFall’s ‘Dames at Sea’

Bill DeYoung

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"I’ve always said I want to do the thing that makes me happy as long as I can," Kristina Huegel observes. "There are always things you want to do eventually, X, Y and Z, but me 10 years ago would be floored by the things that I have been able to do. So sometimes I actually take a step back and look at it from that perspective." Photo provided.

New Yorker Kristina Huegel is a singer, a dancer and an actress – and a real estate agent.

“I did the whole cliché, bartending, serving, which I didn’t dislike,” says Huegel, who’s in town appearing in the freeFall Theatre musical Dames at Sea. “But I got to a point where I was like ‘I’m getting kinda tired of being on my feet all the time.’ Not that I’m not on my feet as a realtor, but the hours are just a little more in my control.”

Her agency, Bohemia Realty Group, was founded by Broadway actress Sarah Saltzberg (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), and most of the agents and employees are performers – singers, dancers, actors, musicians et cetera. So when they need some time off – say, for a road gig in Florida to appear in Dames at Sea – everybody has one another’s back. You go where the work is.

“There’s been nothing but encouragement for that, so it’s a really wonderful group of people to be with,” Huegel reports.

Still, since her arrival in St. Pete last month, thanks to the internet and tools like DocuSign she‘s been able to work on a couple of serious deals in her off hours.

In “Dames at Sea” at freeFall: Kristina Huegel, left, and Tyler Fish. Photo: Thee Photo Ninja.

In Dames at Sea, the prodigiously talented Huegel plays temperamental Broadway chanteuse Mona Kent, whose frequent tantrums and backstage shenanigans set up most of the show’s situational humor.

“I get to do so much – I get to do a little tap, I get to kick my feet, I get to sing the big ballad. I get to be so silly and do some physical comedy. Tyler Fish – who plays the Captain – and I get to do fun things together.”

Huegel played the role once before, earlier in her career. “The true love story in Dames at Sea is Mona Kent’s love for Mona Kent,” she laughs.

She compares Mona to Dorothy Brock, the scheming prima donna of 42nd Street. “I don’t want to say she’s the villain,” she explains, “although there are some villainous elements with her trying to foil our little protagonist, Ruby.”

Huegel was co-starring in a production of Chicago, in Arizona, when the pandemic lowered the 18-month curtain on live theater. “I don’t think any of us will ever again take for granted what we get to do for a living,” she says.

Dames at Sea is her first stage role since that infamous dark day in March 2020 (not coincidentally, it’s also the first show back inside for freeFall).

Although she studied music at the University of South Florida, and performed during those years in Busch Gardens stage shows, the New England native had never done professional theater in Tampa Bay before director Eric Davis cast her in Dames.

“They’re so wonderful to us,” Huegel says. “It’s such a wonderful place to work – everyone cares so deeply about what they’re doing, and about us, our safety and our comfort. It’s been a pleasure.”

Dames at Sea runs through Nov. 21. Info and tickets here.

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