By Angelina Lewis
University of Georgia Master of Fine Arts student Katherine Butcher underwent a nine-month fitness journey for her thesis role in the university’s biggest production of the year, “Cabaret.” Butcher, given the lead role of Sally Bowles, took this performance seriously. The actress began working with a personal trainer, tweaked her diet and made her health a top priority.
“Basically the day I found out I was playing Sally, I went to the gym and signed up for a personal trainer.” Butcher said.
The actress chose this fitness journey not only for the sake of her appearance on stage, but because physicality is extremely important to her character and what her character represents.
“In the performance numbers in the nightclub, she dances provocatively and uses her body to convey her spirit of openness and freedom,” said “Cabaret’s” artistic director Freddie Ashley. “She inhabits whatever space she’s in by completely taking over.”
“Katherine is very serious about her process, and undergoing a fitness transformation as part of her acting process underscores this,” Ashley said. “I have deep respect for her discipline with which she has undertaken this project.”
Butcher trained six days out of the week at Crunch Fitness, including one day with a personal trainer who provided a strength and high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout regime to guide her.
Butcher’s training sessions combine short, high-intensity bursts of exercise, with slow recovery phases repeated throughout each workout. Certified cross-fit trainer Jonathan Fennell describes HIIT as working out as a sprinter rather than a marathon runner. According to Fennell, key benefits from HIIT are increased energy levels, a boosted metabolism, muscle tone improvement and reduced body fat.
In addition to her rigorous training routine, Butcher made a few tweaks to her diet.
“I’ve always been a healthy eater,” Butcher said. “Breakfast is my biggest meal, so it’s packed with lots of protein.”
Before, her breakfast typically consisted of two fried eggs, a slice of avocado toast and bowl of cereal. Working with her trainer and focusing on protein and carbohydrate intake, they created a breakfast that replenishes and refuels the body after an intense training session.
Consisting of one whole egg, one egg white, two pieces of turkey bacon, one cup of bran flakes, a few banana slices and a protein shake, Butcher’s first meal includes everything she needs to build muscle and maintain high energy levels throughout the day.
After 9 months of a strict meal plan, consistent training and lots of rehearsals, Butcher not only physically looked the part of Sally Bowles, but felt stronger mentally and emotionally.
“Cabaret” sold out the first three nights. Friends and family greeted the actress with hugs and flowers after her final matinee performance on Sunday, November 12.
Butcher said she will continue her professional theatre acting and singing career in Atlanta and plans to teach acting at the university level.