Tell me a little about your dance career. When did it all start?
I started dancing a little late. I was eight and I started tap. And then after that, I added jazz, and then lastly I added ballet. So it kind of went backwards--but I studied in Oklahoma at a studio called Dance Unlimited.
What brought me into musical theatre was my dance teacher’s husband, who was a big actor. I always liked dance and then I started later on adding acting on the side and just kinda fell in love with it. I did competitions growing up and did the whole scene. But then really my junior year of high school I found out that you could do musical theatre as a living. So I told my parents that I could make money doing what I loved and from there I decided to pursue it. I went to OU (University of Oklahoma) for two and a half years for musical theatre and then left my junior year, moved to New York, and have been here ever since.
When you first told your parents that you wanted to perform for a living, how did they respond?
I think they thought I was a little bit crazy. They had no idea what this was and my sister wanted to become a ballet dancer and I wanted to do musical theatre. So they were little weary of it, but always supportive. Always like, ‘Okay, if this is what you want to do.’ They were like 110% behind me, which was really great. Even though, I am sure deep down they were just like, ‘Why can’t you just become a doctor?’ But it was good, and now they’ve been here, they’re great. And they love seeing shows.
So when you went to college, you went specifically for dance?
No, I actually went specifically for musical theatre. Because I had such a big dance background from growing up that I was like, ‘I already dance and I’d like to expand my acting abilities.’ So I really wanted to go to a program where I could do those two things but also keep up my dance training. My main goal in college was really more about the theatre part of it--the singing and acting.
So what are you up to now?
Now I am in a little show called On the Town. We’re at the Lyric Theatre on 42nd Street. And this is my first Broadway show, which is really exciting. When I moved to the city, I moved here because I was cast in a show that was suppose to go to Broadway. But then the producers dropped out of it, so the date kept getting postponed, and postponed, and postponed, until finally it was just like a indefinite postponed show. So that was really hard--it was really hard when I first moved here because I moved here thinking I had something and I didn’t. So it made getting On the Town and finally getting to Broadway really special. It was a really good experience.
Could you tell me a little bit about your auditioning experiences?
Oh my gosh, the auditions are crazy. So growing up, I auditioned for things in Oklahoma like Lyric, and all that, and I was never cast. So I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ And this is like all growing up like middle school and high school. There was finally one year, the first summer I worked was when I was 16, and from then on I kinda got really lucky. I was cast every summer in shows and got good little parts, and little features and things so I was really lucky. And then I auditioned for a show my sophomore year of college for a theatre called Goodspeed, and I ended up getting the show that summer. I didn’t really know how cool that was or how great that was until after I moved here.
I started going to auditions and there were a lot of no’s before there were some yes’s. But it’s not really about if you get cast at an audition. It’s about if you did well. And at the end of the day, you can look back and be like, ‘I did a good job, it doesn’t matter if I get the job or not.’ Because so many times it’s so much more than just you. So it was a difficult lesson to learn because when you’re so used to getting yes’s, hearing nothing at all---not even a “no” --just not hearing anything can be really hard. I had to take a step back from auditioning and be like, “Am I doing a good job?”, “Am I actually feeling like I am doing my best at these auditions?” Now when I go to an audition, I go in with the mindset of ‘I get a free dance class,’ if it’s a dance call. I get to have fun, see people I know, and get a good class out of it.
Was there ever a point where you felt like couldn’t do it anymore?
Yeah, there were multiple points, especially my first year. I was still doing really great things once I moved to the city---but it wasn’t Broadway and not what I expected to do, so I was like, “I am just going to quit and become a baker.” Because I love baking. So I was like, “I am just going to open a bakery, get a dog, and be done with it.” But I always told people, “it really takes two solid years in New York before people start recognizing you and before people start realizing who you are and trusting you almost--from a choreographer’s standpoint or director’s standpoint. So I was like, if I only moved to New York and I leave before it’s been two years, I am going to be really upset with myself. So I made sure that I at least stay two years. And it’s been two years.
So how long was that time frame where you found out that your show was indefinitely postponed to getting On the Town?
I found that I got the show while I was still in college. So when I moved here in January, it was supposed to happen in February. Then it was pushed to March. And then it was pushed back to April. Then pushed backed to June. So it was in a big holding pattern the first couple months. I finally booked some work and found out I was going away for a couple weeks. And the day I was leaving was when we found out the show was postponed, so I was freaking out and started auditioning again. Luckily I had some good connections and found out I got a job at Goodspeed again for the fall. While I was at Goodspeed, I was auditioning a lot, so I found out I got a lab of On the Town, which happened last December. We found out in March that it was going to Broadway and I was asked to move on with the show. We started rehearsals in August and opened in October. Looking back, it was really kinda quick, although it seemed--while I was living it--it seemed so long. Luckily I had other jobs that all lined up and panned out really well, so it wasn’t just sitting around waiting for this job to happen. I was busy. So that was good. And I got to go home a little bit, so that was nice.
What’s your favorite part about living in the city?
The people. I don’t particularly love the city itself, because I love nature and I love being outside and I love grass, trees, and the outdoors. I like how everything is here, but I really think the people--the people that are here, the people that I’ve met--are why I am still here. And of course, what I can do here. But I have met the most amazing people here in the city and I don’t think that I would get that experience anywhere else.
So what do you see yourself doing in the future?
You know, it’s so funny. I have no idea. It’s so weird. I want to be doing this, because I love it but at the same time, I don’t know ten years from now, I am not sure if I’ll still be in the business. Maybe I’ll be like an assistant choreographer to someone, or doing something on the other side of the table, or maybe start a family--I feel like there are so many options. I also teach barre, so maybe I just want to do that full-time. I don’t know. At this point, I have no idea. If you asked me my freshman year in college, I woud’ve been like, I wanna be a Broadway star, I want to do this, I want to do that. But now I am like, I have no idea. New York can just take you anywhere. And this business can take you anywhere. I don’t want to say anything and have these preconceived ideas and then, you know, see them not happen and be upset. I enjoy the freedom of it all.
The fact that you’re able to have that freedom is awesome. You have something going on right now, so you don’t have to worry about what to do.
A little bit. There’s always that uncertainty. Especially with our show in particular. Because we’re in such a big theatre that people were like, ‘You’re going to close before you open,’ ‘there are no stars in your show,’ ‘it’s a huge theatre,’ ‘it’s not a well-known show,’ ‘you’re doomed.’ We’ve been this Little Engine That Could, chugging along. Some of our grosses were terrible and we didn’t sell a lot of tickets at first, and then now it’s starting to pick up. But as a performer, it’s not really our job to worry about that, so we just have to show up and give a great performance every night and be like, ‘cool,’ whether there are two people in the audience or two thousand people.
Tell me a little about the show.
So it’s about three sailors who have 24 hours in New York. Each of the sailors meets a girl, and one of the guys can’t find this girl, so it’s his journey of finding her. The ensemble has a really fun job because we play all the people of New York. We are constantly changing costumes, which makes it really fun. There is a lot dancing in the show, which is one of the highlights--it’s a big dance show. There’s a lot of great singing; it’s really funny; there’s comedy but some really heartwarming moments. It’s a classic musical theatre show. We have a giant orchestra--28 piece orchestra, which is like the biggest orchestra on Broadway right now. In this space, you can’t imagine having any less. And the music--it’s Bernstein music, it’s so gorgeous.
What’s your favorite character that you play?
It’s probably between Marnie, the school girl, she’s one of my favorites but I also have like, this dolls and shawls seller, who has like three different parts at three different nightclubs, which is fun. We have a great cast and we like to have fun on stage, so every night it’s something different, which keeps it alive.
How do you like playing a totally different person on stage than who you are?
It’s great. It’s almost like a little escape. I always say that the reason I got into acting was because I liked putting on different hats. I liked escaping from who I was. So it’s nice to be able to--at the end of the day--get away and play these characters. Honestly, the character might seem like it’s far away from who you actually are, but deep down, it always has a living part of who you are in it. It’s great. I love it. I find it fun to create a character. Anyone could really dance the moves and do whatever, but what sets our show apart is that we’ve created all these character, these stories, and these plots behind each time we come on stage. I have different names most of the time. I have a cross that literally gets me from stage right to stage left, and my partner and I have this complete, intricate storyline going on.
Is there anything you want to share with the world? To other dancers out there?
Keep learning. I always say that. Take class. That’s one of the main things that I still do and still enjoy and still love. Your training is never done. You may finish high school, you may finish college, but you’re going to move to New York and it’s the school of the city. You’re just in New York City, learning the city, and you get to learn where you want to take class, where you want to do this, where you want to do that. Always be open to new things and never limit yourself saying, ‘I can’t do that.’ Because a lot of time there have been instances where people asked me, ‘can you do that’ and I said yes and--I don’t condone this--but like I’ve had to learn and practice and be like, ‘I can get better.’ So I always say keep an open mind and learn.
Be a sponge--it’s a good trait to have. And never take it too seriously. It’s just theatre. It’s just dance. It’s not rocket science, not brain surgery. We’re lucky in these careers that we get to have fun and we get to allow people to enjoy themselves and escape from reality. It’s not that deep. It’s just theatre. I think people make themselves crazy over this business and it’s really not worth it. There’s so much more in life. To be able to enjoy what you’re doing and the people you’re with is far more important than nailing that triple pirouette at that audition. Relax, breathe, enjoy, learn. You’re going to do fine.