A Star Returns Home

Natalie Canerday

PHOTO | Submitted

A renowned celebrity actress, Natalie Canerday, is currently directing “All the ways the world will end, but not you,” one act written by Ian McWethy and Jason Pizzarello.

The comedy follows two hosts discussing how to survive every possible apocalypse that could strike.

According to Canerday, Assistant professor of theater, Frances Roberson, is the main reason the Russellville native turned celebrity is back in her hometown directing.

“She’s been after me to do something here. My mother had dementia and was dying, and then the plague happened, along with everything else. I kept telling her, ‘I just can’t.’ Well, this year came along,” Canerday said.

She continued, explaining that the stars seemed to align for this star to come and direct finally. “[Roberson] asked me to direct a one-act in the spring. I told her I smoked and cussed. I don’t know if that’d be a good influence,” Canerday joked.

Canerday continued, explaining that after Roberson sent her a few plays, “We were looking through it all. They were too sad or too deep. I just kept coming back to [‘All the ways the world will end, but not you’]. I think it is grammatically correct, but the title bothered me.”

“Anyone can do Shakespeare or Medea. My forte is comedy. “We all need to laugh and have fun,” She said.

According to Canerday, the cast and crew are having a great time practicing. This is a lucky turn of events, considering her first play, the one she directed in college, was less than ideal.

“Everything went wrong. The actors wouldn’t learn their lines. I couldn’t deal with it. I was miserable and didn’t realize the power actors have till I was just watching them helplessly wandering around the stage,” Canerday said. “I told Frances that I didn’t think I was up for it. But now? It is a night and day experience.”

Canerday really appreciates the Theater at Tech.

“The talent here is just incredible. I had no idea. You want your hometown kids to be good. But I mean, I was blown away by the talent and skill. I told Frances, and she said, ‘oh yeah. We know. They are special. I feel like I have to tell everybody,” Canerday said. “I am not just saying that. This is a little gem here. I had no idea it was so good. I wish more people knew that and would come and support it.”

The only snag the theater has run into thus far is scheduling conflicts within. According to Canerday, the cast consists of 28 people, and getting everyone on the same page can be slightly difficult at times.

Canerday got her to start performing in 1978. She started as a dancer, specializing in tap dancing and ballet. She did a recital every year and fell in love with it. Her performing career was put on hold for a few years before she picked it back up in High School.

“Russellville is leaps and bounds ahead in the drama now. Back then, you had one class, and they did one show a year that seniors could be in. I got to be in one my junior year. I played Ermengarde in Hello Dolly. That was my first real role,” she said.

According to her, acting fell into her lap.

“I was working at the country club. They were getting ready for a class reunion upstairs, and Elizabeth Ward, our former Miss America, went to high school with me. Her husband was playing in the band at the class reunion. She introduced me to ‘The Agency,’ and they liked me, and I liked them. I didn’t get 9 out of 10 things I would audition for, but my first big role was in ‘Biloxi Blues’ with Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walken. I had three lines.,” she said.

Canerday grew up a block from Tech. Her neighbors were huge stakeholders on the campus, big names such as the Brown Household, the Roush household, and the Hull household, to name a few.

“I remember when I was younger, every time Tech would score a touchdown, they’d fire a cannon, and our walls would shake,” Canerday said with a nostalgic smile. “Tech has always been a part of me. I remember the old student union. We would go in there and play foosball and get a coke for 50 cents. I cried when I saw the new student union.”

Tech is essential in Canerday’s life, and who has lived around it for a long time. So giving back to the community she grew up around means a lot to her.

“All the ways the world will end, but not you” is set to premiere on March 31 at night, with a matinee showing at 2 p.m. on April 2. Those engaging in theater can learn more information at atu_theatre_film on Instagram.