Hitting The High Notes Aboard 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine'

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I've been lucky enough to be on a few iconic shows. I wore a bikini on Married With Children and a tiny gold lame dress on Sex and the City. Nowadays I keep my clothes on and get to appear on CBS Sunday Morning, a show I used to watch with my parents when I was a kid. But, by far, the most iconic show I've ever been on was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I still get fan mail. I'm on a trading card. My character lives on in a DS9 novel.

In 1997 and 1998, I guest starred as a genetically-enhanced mutant named Sarina Douglas. I was part of a group of four misfits called the "Jack Pack," named after our hyperactively genius leader, Jack. When I appeared on the show in 1997, two fantastic things happened: I got to be directed by Anson Williams (yes, Potsie from Happy Days) and I got to be beamed up. One very disappointing thing happened: When they edited the episode, they decided to make my character entirely mute, in spite of the fact that I'd had scripted lines.

A season later, the DS9 writers invited the Jack Pack back. Well, not so fast. They wrote an episode called "Chrysalis," about Sarina breaking out of her shell -- and they made me audition to play the role I had created! So I did… and I got cast in Sarina's space shoes again. The crazy thing was that the big turning point in "Chrysalis" comes when Sarina learns to speak by first learning to sing. And in the audition they never asked if I could sing.

I could. I did. I grew up in the dark world of children's musical theatre and continued doing musicals through college and grad school. So I was thrilled not only to be back on the ship but to be singing my way into Dr. Bashir's heart.

Three of the four of the Jack Pack were delighted to be in music rehearsals on the Paramount lot. Jack not so much. We rehearsed for a couple of days in between shooting other scenes. It was a sweltering August, and I remember how cool the music rehearsal room felt. I had always been a belter, but this do-re-mi-style foursome (surely there’s a technical term for that? Music experts, please inform) called on my highest of notes. 

The day we spent filming the song was a blast. I loved doing it over and over; it felt like a theatrical rehearsal to me, which was more comfortable territory than getting a couple of takes in front of many cameras. It felt special and different and fun in a way that the long days of shooting one-hour dramas don't usually feel. Of course, it didn't hurt that the cameras zoomed around me, making me feel like I was having a Julie Andrews "The Hills Are Alive" moment.

A couple weeks later I went into the studio to dub myself. They ended up doubling my voice to make my somewhat thin high register sound fuller, like airbrushing my voice. I loved it. And at that point I could breathe a sigh of relief and feel sure that they couldn't make Sarina mute again.