How long have you been performing on stage? I’ve been performing onstage for six and a half years now. Once on This Island will be my 19th show with Yorba Linda Spotlight and 35th show overall. I started out at a young age doing a lot of print work and commercials when one day my agent recommended I try out musical theatre because she said it would look good on a resume. Reluctantly, I auditioned for my first show ever (which happened to be with Yorba Linda Spotlight). I figured I would absolutely hate it but it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. I stopped everything else I was doing and decided musical theatre was what I wanted to do. I’ve been at it ever since.
What was your first show with Spotlight? My first show was Alice in Wonderland: the play. I was the Lori Bird in that show, which was actually a pretty big part. I remember being so excited to be a part of the show once we got into rehearsals and to make a ton of friends. Since it was a play, we read sides for the audition. So when auditions for Into the Woods came along, the show following Alice in Wonderland, nine year old me was absolutely shocked to find out we had to sing and ended up performing the only musical theatre song she knew at the time, Castle on a Cloud, for a Sondheim audition.
Why do you like performing in shows with Spotlight? YLSpotlight has always been my second home. I grew up with this company and without it I wouldn’t be the performer or person that I am today. You can always count on Spotlight to treat their performers professionally throughout the rehearsal processes while still giving us the resources and teaching us the skills we need to grow and succeed in our productions. We always do really interesting shows that fit our company well and perform at beautiful venues. More than anything, I love the creative teams at Spotlight. They always treat us as equals and are truly a pleasure to work with.
What is your dream role? Ahh the ultimate question to ask any theatre kid. There’s so many things I could answer this question with, from gender bend dream roles such as Elder Price in Book of Mormon or a dream role that I’ve already been fortunate enough to play, Val in A Chorus Line, but when it comes down to it my ultimate dream role would have to be Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie. It’s such a fun show (as I’ve done it twice playing Cora and Mrs. Meers) but I’ve always really related to Millie, as she’s super spunky and she knows what she wants and she goes and gets it. Other roles I would love to play include Carrie White (Carrie), Heather Chandler (Heathers), Natalie (All Shook Up), Ariel (Footloose), Cathy (The Last Five Years), and Pennywise (Urinetown).
Of the roles that you’ve played, which has been your favorite? Val in A Chorus Line was an amazing role to play as she is truly a triple threat so I got to strengthen my singing, acting, and dancing. Gingy in Shrek was really fun as the role is totally over the top an has the best solo ever at the beginning of Freak Flag. Lastly, Ursula will always hold a special place in my heart. It was my first big role which been fortunate enough to play twice.
How has Spotlight helped you grow as a performer? Spotlight has helped me grow as a performer in so many ways. I’ve been challenged with a lot of roles that have pushed me vocally to work on expanding my range, both higher and lower. I also started off in musical theatre with two left feet, and I have Spotlight to thank for helping me become a better dancer. I’ve gotten to tap a lot with this company which I love and have got to do some really awesome dancing in productions such as Peter Pan and Once on This Island. Recently, we did a production of Wizard of Oz where I performed as the Wicked Witch. This started out as a huge challenge for me because it was a strictly acting role. Typically, I feel significantly more confident in telling stories when it is through song or dance so having neither of these things to rely on had me nervous. But as the rehearsal process went on I ended up growing a ton as an actor and it actually peaked my interest in straight acting.
What do you like to do when you’re not performing? Honestly… there isn’t really a ton of time for me to do things outside of performing as I’m usually a part of multiple productions at a time and am so heavily involved in the musical theatre program at OCSA. In these past two years I’ve developed a love for directing and choreographing. I’ve been able to do this in some smaller scale productions and hope to have opportunities in the future where I can grow in this. In addition, while this is still technically performing, I’ve recently gotten into straight acting a ton but more specifically on camera. I’ve been able to be a part of some films with FTV at OCSA playing some pretty wild characters and have love it a ton.
What are your strongest and weakest traits as a performer? In the aspect of singing vs acting vs dancing overall, I feel pretty well rounded but in each of the three categories I have my strengths and weaknesses. If I had to give it an order I would say acting is my strongest, then singing, and then dancing. It’s really when you get into the specifics of these where things fall as stronger or weaker. Vocally, I’m a lot weaker when singing in my upper register and stronger when not. When it comes to singing with other people, I do well with the harmonies themselves but need to work on blending my voices with the people around me. Acting wise, I do well with characters that have strong personalities and objectives. It’s hard for me to do roles where the character is just an average person. When it comes to dance I struggle most with tap because I don’t pick up on it quickly. It takes me drilling combinations over and over again to get to, but once I have it I’m set. Character dancing, shows like Tarzan, is what I’m most comfortable with and I enjoy a ton. In anything I do, I think acting needs to be a part of it. I’m never just singing or just dancing, it needs to have the objective and purpose behind it, otherwise it’s boring and pointless.
If you could choose a show for Spotlight to produce, what would it be and why? I would love to see YLSpotlight do Urinetown as a Young Adult production. It has always been a dream of mine to do that show as I’m in love with the music and whacky storyline. I think it would be really cool to have Spotlight do a young adult production of a straight play, as we typically do musicals at this company. Other productions I’d love to see the company put on are A Chorus Line, 9 to 5, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and A New Brain.
Of Spotlight’s past shows, which has been your favorite and why? This is a really tough question, but I think I’d have to go with Peter Pan. The cast was super close from onstage memories of making up our own sign language to offstage memories of watching really interesting Netflix movies and Friends marathons. We even had our own hashtag for the show with photos and tweets from when we hung out. Some very close favorites include Bye Bye Birdie, Into the Woods, and Once on This Island.
Anything else you want to say? I just want to give a big thanks to all the opportunities YLSpotlight has given me. Not only have I been fortunate enough to do so many shows with the company but also work as a camp counselor in their summer camp productions, work as a crew member in a couple productions I haven’t performed in, take a variety of different classes, and perform in various things such as our annual Disneyland event, multiple showcases/recitals, their old winter Glee club, and their musical theatre competition. The opportunities Spotlight has provided me with are endless and I will truly treasure forever. And for anyone out there who has been considering seeing shows here, auditioning for things, taking lessons, or wanting to become a part of YLSpotlight in anyway, go for it! The environment here is fun, loving, professional, educational, and you will absolutely love the memories you make with this amazing company.