Catie O’Donnell (and Caleb!)

My day jobs all have to do with music and theater. I’m the co-artistic director of the Music Theatre of Madison, the co-owner of a voice and acting studio, Center Stage Performing Arts, and a freelance director and producer for a variety of theaters throughout Madison and the Midwest including Children’s Theater of Madison, Forward Theater and the Milwaukee Opera Theatre.

The model for regional theater is changing and it’s become critical for artists to do everything from writing and acting to directing and producing. I find it exciting and rewarding to have the opportunity to explore so many different aspects of theater.

My most memorable caffeine was the first full-caffeine latte I had after my son, Caleb, was born. I’d been either caffeine-free or drinking very little caffeine throughout my pregnancy. A few months after giving birth—when I was sleep deprived and not used to caffeine any more—I had my first latte. It didn’t take much to feel the effects!

My current caffeine of choice is an iced vanilla skim latte. Because I drink my coffee very slowly, I prefer an iced version all year round: hot coffee gets cold too quickly but a cold coffee stays at a good temperature for a long time.

My favorite place for caffeine is the original Alterra in Milwaukee, which is now a Colectivo. It’s in the old water treatment plant right by Lake Michigan and it’s just a lovely building. It’s the first place where I hung out and drank coffee and it has a beautiful outdoor seating area.

 The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is such a fearless and inspiring artist who’s truly becoming the voice of our generation. I think of him as a “theater maker”—someone who is multi-faceted and can deliver on all the elements that need to come together to create a successful performance.

Theater was starting to feel a bit stagnant and old fashioned. Yes, Rodgers and Hammerstein were amazingly talented and it’s important to see their productions, but it’s also important to embrace new talent. Lin-Manuel has gotten people excited about experimenting and helped keep musicals relevant and important in a tech-focused world.

I would love to sit down with him as a fellow theater professional and someone who’s at a similar age and stage of life (with a child and a busy career).

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: would be virtually any problem. If we sat down with each other and had real conversations—not debates or fights or Twitter wars—and actually listened to each other, I think we’d find some points of agreement. It’s not that we’d necessarily change each other’s minds, but there would be an opportunity for understanding and the possibility of coming to some level of consensus.