Friday, April 26, 2013

faces // meet kelly

I've been so thankful for the wonderful ladies of Phantom of the Opera who have taken the time let me interview them - y'all are lovely, thank you! Today we have another understudy/ensemble member who also worked on the Phantom US tour several years ago. Another unique and fun story! Ladies and gentleman….

meet: kelly jeanne grant
actress. madame giry u/s, ensemble in phantom of the opera on broadway.

To start, introduce yourself to us! Who are you and what do you do?
Hi There! I'm Kelly Grant (or "Kelly Jeanne Grant" - my full Actor's Equity/ Union name.) I am a member of the Female Ensemble and a Madame Giry Understudy in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

How long have you been with Phantom Broadway?
I have been with Phantom for a total of 5 years. I spent 3 years on the road playing the role of "Christine" (as the "Alternate" - 2 shows a week and stand-by). And, I have been performing with the Broadway Company for more than 2 years now. First, as a vacation swing, and now as a permanent Company Member / Mme. Giry Cover and an "Internal Swing."

How did you get started in theatre?
I am from Portland, Oregon, and I began seeing plays at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival when I was 4 years old. Since then, I have always loved theatre and the magical art of telling a story to an audience. As I started playing musical instruments and singing, I fell more in love with all of the different ways to tell that story, and knew that I wanted to devote my life to doing theatre.

What was the first musical you ever saw?
First Play = The Tempest (age 4) First Musical = West Side Story (age 8). Both were life changing and transformative for me!!

You were on the Phantom tour - what was your favorite thing about life on the road?
I loved the challenge of telling this wonderful timeless story in different venues all over the United States and Canada. I really enjoy traveling in general, but it is even more fun to get to know other theaters and local audiences while getting a chance to make the story of Phantom come alive for them 8 shows a week. On a personal note, I am also a marathon runner, and I LOVED exploring all of the trails and running paths in different parts of the country. It was like a non-stop adventure!!

One of the challenges of being on tour?
The hardest thing about being on tour was having to be away from my husband. Long distance relationships are one of the occupational hazards of show business in general, but it is particularly challenging when one partner is on the road. We tried never to go more than 6 weeks without seeing each other. Between travel expenses, and scheduling difficulties, let's just say that for those 3 years, we really had to prioritize our relationship in order to make it work.

Being in the ensemble, you're on every night. That takes stamina! What's something
you do to keep your voice in tip-top shape for each performance?
Stay healthy!!! Plenty of exercise keeps my lungs open and my energy level high. A healthy diet and staying hydrated helps as well. In terms of vocalizing, I try to warm up each day... Even if it's just in my shower!!

I'm jealous that you can pull off an Irish accent. How did you study/learn the different
accents you know?
It depends on the accent, but I have taken some dialect courses. Occasionally, I have also gotten private coaching if I need a dialect for a specific play or role.

Your favorite thing about living in New York City?
The amazing energy of the city. I am pretty well travelled, and I know no city with this much of a "pulse" or "buzz." It's pretty cool to feel like you are at the center of it all…

One of the difficulties of being on Broadway?
The schedule. The eight show week plus rehearsals can be challenging enough, but add in all the things that New York has to offer, and you are pretty swamped! For example: I also teach many classes and workshops to visiting students, shoot commercial and episodic television, perform in Off Broadway readings of new plays, and sing on demo recordings for new musicals. It makes for a very FUN, but very FULL calendar!!

What's one of your dream roles?
Ironically, I am extremely fortunate enough to have already DONE many of my childhood dream roles. How incredibly lucky am I? It was always my dream to play Christine Daae in Phantom, and I got to experience that on tour. I have also done a bunch of others including Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde, and Peter in Peter Pan. (That last one includes getting to take, arguably, the best "bow" in show biz while flying 25 feet in the air and spraying handfuls of pixie dust on the audience…GREAT fun!! :) In terms of roles I have yet to do, I would love to tackle Mother in Ragtime, and, of course, Eva in Evita.

Who are your heroes/role models?
I have many actors and actresses that I admire professionally, Annette Benning, Meryl Streep, Helen Hunt, Robert Deniro, William H. Macy, etc... But, my real heroes are my parents. My Dad, who is a doctor, and a marathon runner thought me everything I know about perseverance, strength and true kindness. And my mother, an amazing woman who saw our family through good times and bad, has spent a lifetime showing me the meaning of the words "generosity" and "loyalty." They made me who I am today, and I owe them everything.

Do you have a quote that particularly challenges or inspires you?
It sounds weird, but the old chestnut "carpe diem" has always rung true to me, because life is too short not to reach for your dreams. You never know how much time you have, so I like to think of living each day to its fullest. Work hard, play harder, and spread love far and wide wherever you go, and you won't go to sleep at night with regrets in your heart!!

Anything else you'd like to share?
To all of my young friends who are contemplating a life in show business, the greatest advice I can give is this: BE HAPPY!! It sounds simplistic, but find other interests, hobbies or relationships outside the business that fulfill you and make you happy as a human being. Our business is not one that gives you  a lot of self-validation, but if you come to the table as a positive already satisfied person, there is no end to what you can do!!

Thank you so much, Kelly! You've got me excited and inspired :) I'm looking forward to meeting you in person someday! Keep up your great work, and thanks for sharing a bit of your life with us.

0 thoughts:

Post a Comment