Zoe Pappas seemed destined for the stage. As a youngster, she impressed her teachers, including actress Wendy Lehr, at Children’s Theatre Company. At 18, she performed alongside established Twin Cities actors in Edward Albee’s “The Play About the Baby.”
For the following eight years, Pappas was all over — tackling Sam Shepard roles in small theaters and getting critical praise in lavish big-stage productions. She did several shows with Theater Latté Da, including the beautiful, melancholy role of Lily in 2004’s “A Man of No Importance.” Pappas could sing, act and dance — a legitimate triple threat — and soon she was ensconced at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres in “Les Miz,” “Grease” and most memorably in a fantastically over-the-top performance as Ulla in “The Producers.”
She opened the 2010 fall season performing the title role in Latté Da’s “Evita.” Three days after the gorgeously conceived production closed, she left town for Hawaii.
“This had been in the works for a year,” Pappas said by phone from her home just outside Honolulu. “I met a guy in the military, who I am now married to, and he was stationed in Hawaii.”
While love made Pappas’ decision for her, she admits to having been ready for something different.
“I thought it would be a nice break from the go-go-go all the time,” she said. “Doing ’Evita’ was very exhausting — a huge undertaking. I was happy to leave and step back and find myself outside of all that.”
Pappas brought with her to Hawaii a teaching certificate for yoga. She leads classes and is studying for an advanced license.
“It really changed my life,” she said. “Yoga has been a major passion for me, and it is something I love as much as theater.”
Doing theater in Hawaii was not an option. While there is an active community scene, there are no professional Equity theaters in the state.
The future could hold a return to the Twin Cities. Her husband, Jonas Courneya, needs to decide in December if he will re-enlist and go to a new posting, or move back to Minneapolis. Both are from here, so an eventual return seems in the cards.
And if that happened, would Pappas return to the stage? Perhaps, but not at the pace she once practiced.
The scene “is not going to look the same as it was before,” she said. “It’s been five years. Teaching yoga and doing shows less consistently, that’s my hope.” □