Actress from South Fayette to perform in Benedum play

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

When CLO Cratchit kids get older, they do what comes naturally: they return to Pittsburgh in another Civic Light Opera production.

Courtney Markowitz, of South Fayette, has come back home for the Civic Light Opera's June staging of “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” Its run continues through June 22 at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh. Markowitz portrays Vivian Kensington, the main character's rival.

After age 5, she remembers playing lots of child characters featured in classic musicals, such as the Ebenezer Scrooge and Cratchit family story as told in “A Christmas Carol,” “Bye, Bye, Birdie” and “The Pajama Game.”

Even then, she was no stranger to the stage. She was 2 when she was invited onto the stage at a “Sesame Street Live” show.

“I was crying, and they couldn't get me off the stage,” Markowitz, now 26, said. Her mother decided then to sign her up for singing and dancing classes.

Kevin Maurer, the now-retired choral director at South Fayette, remembered meeting her during junior high school. She came into his room, smiling, introduced herself and asked to audition a solo for an upcoming show.

“She sang ‘Silver Bells,'” Maurer said. “To hear that voice come out of an 11- or 12-year-old, I was just amazed. She was extremely talented.”

He recalled a class trip to see the musical “Wicked” in Chicago. He sat in front of her during the show, and turned to see tears running down her face. “She said, ‘Someday, I want to be up there,' ” Maurer recalled.

Since then, he has traveled to watch her perform, and he follows her career via Facebook.

Markowitz's love for theater carried her through South Fayette Township High School, and Elon University in North Carolina. After that, she was a part of a national road tour of the play “Spring Awakening.”

For “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” Markowitz has no apprehension about performing before a hometown crowd. Her parents, Darlene and James, attended the opening and brought a large group of friends to another performance.

After this musical closes and she performs in CLO's “Footloose,” Markowitz plans to marry in November. Her fiancé, Quinn Carter, is from Wisconsin and a “normal” person, she said, one not involved in theater.

Her ultimate goal is “fulfilling my passion and having a family life. I need to figure out a balance between people that I love and the thing that I love.

“I'm at a point where I can pick and choose roles that are inspiring for me. I'm past the point of begging for a job.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or

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