Jenna Paige McWilliams recently became Jenna Paige Hild this past Spring when she was married to her now-husband Benjamin Hild right here in Jenna’s hometown of Durant, Oklahoma. The couple began their marital-bound journey at Oklahoma City University, where they received their degrees in Vocal Performance and Musical Theatre. After a wedding fit for a fairy tale, they are now in Durant to star in a tale as old as time plus many other roles in this, the 43rd season of the Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival.
Jenna and Benjamin are both professional performers, and when asked what inspired them to begin this career Jenna instantly answered “Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival” stating, “I've been doing it since I was five and if it weren’t for that I don’t think I would have been as interested in (performing) as I am now.” Benjamin credited his love of performing to his mother’s singing. His mother would take him to her praise and worship rehearsals at his church where, from the pews, he would watch her sing and play the tambourine. This love for music eventually pushed him to study opera, but, as Ben stated, “I always wanted to do opera. I studied that in college but then decided that I liked musical theatre more.”
Their love for each other has given them chemistry most performers do not have. Not only do they enjoy being in shows together, but because they both perform, they understand just how hard and stressful it can be for each other. Being able to empathize with each other's career achievements and struggles strengthens the foundation of their relationship. Jenna said that after rehearsal, “going home and breaking things down that happened in rehearsal and (figuring together) how to make them better is very helpful.” Benjamin claimed Jenna was a “true triple threat” in musical theatre, meaning that she was great at singing, dancing, and acting. He said that her elite skill and overall musical theatre knowledge are always inspiring to him and whenever he has questions, she is his “go-to”.
It is a rare treat when two people bring out the best in each other and everyone around them. Every actor and technician working for OSF this season has had nothing but compliments for them. This season Benjamin and Jenna are helping with the children’s theatre production of FROZEN JR. Jenna is serving as Staging Director while Ben serves as the Group Leader for the 4 to 5-year-olds in the Oaken family. When observing Benjamin or Jenna work with the kids, you can see the joy and passion they both have and how much they want to make each theatre experience for these kids a great one. This desire comes as no surprise after learning that they both dream of one day owning their own children’s theatre.
They believe they can help play a role in molding the futures of these children. A way to aid in their development and success is to give them a chance to perform.
Sometime soon, we will probably see a production from Jenna’s and Benjamin’s future children's theatre. Until then, Jenna and Benjamin star as Belle and the Beast in DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Visit OklahomaShakes.com for more information on this and other shows and events.