You might say that Lisa Wilken has taken Eugene theater by storm — by “Storm Kennedy,” that is, Wilken’s professional and stage name around town for most of three decades.
A 1981 graduate of South Eugene High School, Kennedy headed to the Big Apple to pursue a career in modeling. She was discovered, theatrically speaking, while lunching at a New York eatery — shades of Lana Turner and the Schwab’s Pharmacy soda counter — when a man walked up to her table and asked whether she was an actress. Turned out he wasn’t a creep, and she ended up performing at Don’t Tell Mama, a popular Restaurant Row cabaret where she played Gloriana in “A Visit With the Muse.”
More roles didn’t land easily in her lap, though, and she moved back to Eugene in the late 1980s, working most of her career in television and radio. The name “Storm Kennedy” came with a weather job at radio KMGE, known in those days as Magic 94.
Over the years she’s performed in a variety of media, including film: As an extra, she once stood next to Warren Beatty in a scene in The Pickup Artist. “You can see the back of my head,” she laughs.
These days she’s a regular lead in local theater productions such as The Quality of Life at Very Little Theatre and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Oregon Contemporary Theatre. She continues to perform in “Love, Loss and What I Wore” which has been produced at VLT and around western Oregon.
Her next theatrical gig will be at Very Little Theatre at 2:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 10, when she reads in a one-performance-only staged reading of Springfield playwright Dorothy Velasco’s new full-length comedy, Ladies Shakespeare Club. Admission is free.