Now that rehearsals have begun for The Wild Party, we’re checking in with this year’s Banks Prize recipients to see how their development into musical theatre superstars is going…
I can’t believe just four months ago Acting Up Stage announced that I would be the female recipient of the Syd and Shirley Banks Prize. I remember so clearly the butterflies that instantly appeared in my stomach when I saw Ari’s name come up in my inbox. I double clicked as fast as I could and hoped that the e-mail was good news – it was.
The rollercoaster ride had begun. On October 9th 2014, Graham Scott Fleming and I were officially announced, my social media accounts flooded with words of encouragement, and my heart swelled. I was so excited to begin. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long – our first rehearsal for the Uncovered: Billy Joel and Elton John concert was that day.
The butterflies had returned – this time filling my tummy with excitement and nervous energy. Singing in front of a panel was one thing, but singing in a studio with Mitchell Marcus, Ari Weinberg, and our incomparable musical director Reza Jacobs was another. Anyone who knows these three gentlemen know that they are the best of the best. They were warm and welcoming, and I couldn’t wait to join the Acting Up Stage family.
Our song was a mash-up of Elton John and Kiki Dee’s hit “Don’t Go Breakin My Heart” and the Billy Joel classic “Just the Way You Are.” I wanted to do these men proud – but also one other man in particular – my Dad. He and I used to sing Elton and Kiki’s parts respectively in our car at the top of our lungs. He let his music-obsessed daughter play that same song over and over again, and always sang along. I knew he’d be in the audience and I wanted to do him proud.
The concert itself was a dream. I couldn’t believe the people I was sharing the stage with. I stood backstage with Brent Carver right before our bows, and repeatedly needed to remind myself not to fan girl. Inside I was dying of happiness, but (I think… Well, I hope) outside I appeared collected and had a lovely conversation with the incredibly talented man… If we’re being honest, immediately afterwards I listened to Parade on repeat. But that’s an aside!
Singing at Koerner Hall was an incredibly special experience. I always knew the theatre was beautiful, but seeing the view, this time from the stage, while doing what I love most, was something I won’t soon forget.
So now we begin the journey of discovering our cabaret (which is on March 1st – please come!). Music rehearsals have commenced, and we’re selecting the right material. We have some fabulous workshops coming up, and I feel so lucky for the opportunities The Syd and Shirley Banks Prize and Acting Up Stage have given me. We are constantly surrounded by influential and inspiring people in the industry, and I’m so excited to continue growing through this process with the help of some incredibly fantastic mentors.
Thank you, Acting Up Stage!