You Should Know… Lauren-Nicole Gabel

Lauren-Nicole Gabel. Dan Schere

No stage is too obscure for Rockville resident Lauren-Nicole Gabel. The 39-year-old sings, acts and dances. Four years ago she started the group [email protected], a community theater group that is run out of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac. She also is the vice president of the performing arts group Montgomery Playhouse. Gabel said even her full-time job managing consultants with the company N Spro involves a little bit of acting.

How did you get into theater?

I didn’t do a lot of theater when I was little. I mostly did Odyssey of the Mind, which is a competition. It was amazing. We would have a team every year, and we’d have to solve a problem. Often it involved doing plays and artwork and songs. It was part engineering and part art. I even went to the world championship in 1999. And that helped me find a passion for working with groups. Theater’s really the same thing. The problem you’re trying to solve is how to get the script up on the stage and make it something that’s enjoyable.

Just how many things can you do on stage?

I act and sing and dance, and I usually try to perform in one show a year.

How did [email protected] come about?

I started doing theater in the area when I moved here in 2005. There were a lot of groups doing musicals, and now there are a lot fewer. A lot of people want to do shows, there just aren’t a lot of opportunities. A lot of places charge you to participate in the shows, and a lot of shows are on Jewish holidays. So it makes it hard for certain people to participate. So we started this group four years ago. We do one big family-oriented musical every year, and we do shows that are Jewish themed. It gives people an opportunity to do theater.

How do you work the ark and the bima at B’nai Tzedek into a show?

The ark is gorgeous, and we usually use it as scenery. This year when I played bird woman in Mary Poppins, I sang “Feed the Birds” and that was my cathedral. When we did a concert last year that had a lot of songs from “Fiddler on the Roof,” we used that to be the house for “Matchmaker.” We find ways to use it without changing anything. You have to be careful [about not damaging anything on the bima]. I did another show at a synagogue that shall remain nameless, and we did “Damn Yankees.” The guy who played the devil kept saying he wanted to come out of the ark. I was like, “No, you can’t do that.” You have to respect the space.

What do you do as the vice president of operations for N Spro?

I work for an international company that’s based in Montreal [Canada], and I run their U.S. operations, so all of the U.S. consultants report up to me.

 Is there a relationship between consulting and acting?

Improv studios have started running classes for businesses on how to do improve in business. And I think when you do consulting, it’s really important, because you never know what your clients are going to throw at you. You have to be open and not just say no. You have to listen to what they’re saying, you have to listen, you have to turn on a dime and watch how you are in front of them. You could be like, “I can’t let this client do this.” But you can’t make it look like you’re thinking that.

I’ve taught an improv for business session at one of our all-hands meetings, which was so much fun. So I think there’s a very good way to use theater skills. No one ever tells me they can’t hear me in a meeting. It helps you know how to present yourself. I’ve hired people with theater backgrounds and I find that they’re always really good consultants, because they know how to conduct themselves in front of an audience.

So Shakespeare had it right when he said “all the world’s a stage.”

Yeah, I think he did.

 I don’t meet too many people with hyphenated first names. Is there a story there?

Not really. It mirrors my Hebrew name, which is Tziviah-Leah. I gave my kids hyphenated Hebrew names, too, but not in English. I didn’t want to do that to them.

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