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Welcome to THE FRIDAY SIX: Q&As With Your Favorite Broadway Stars. Want to know what hooked them to a career in the theater? Their dream roles? Their Broadway crushes? Read on!
In this week's edition, we caught up with Shalita Grant, who is starring as 'Cassandra' in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike- currently playing at the John Golden Theatre.
What is the first Broadway show you ever saw?
The 2007 production of Translations was the first Broadway show I ever saw. I was a very nervous first year student at Juilliard and I was so glad to get tickets to see something in the city and not feel like I could be graded on it! The love scene between the milk maid and the solider was so well played that it was something I carried with me in my classes. It's the scene where they have no idea what the other person is saying but intuit that they have a connection. I realized that it took a great deal of vulnerability and listening to do that, which I hadn't mastered yet. At that time I was an eager actress who wanted to perform EVERYTHING. I still have that but I also learned that subtly is interesting too.
What is your most unique pre-show ritual?
You know, I'm probably unique in that I don't have one! I've always been the kind of actress who can get a note right before going on, or eat, or text something, or have a quick convo about something completely unrelated but once my foot hits that stage I'm locked in to the actor/character in front of me. For me, focus is just about seeing the person in front of you and responding to what they're giving you. Like life. The lines and who I am is already a part of me, that was what rehearsal was about, so I trust that prep.
What is your most memorable "the show must go on" moment?
Haha, well, in theater things are bound to go awry, so I've been in productions where the lighting board rebooted itself during the show, lines get dropped, sound cues don't go off; I was even in a show where a 36ft long 200lb lighting fixture came crashing down onstage during a show (that show did NOT go on...) But with all these incidents, because it comes with the job, I just know to deal and keep going and then laugh about it offstage.
However, the first time I experienced stage fright was pretty memorable. It was the first time something in ME went wrong and I wasn't prepared! I was in my 3rd year of school and it was the first full production I had done there with lights etc and it was a Shakespearean play. The set up for the theater was that the first rows of seats went three quarters around the stage and we could totally see those people. My first entrance I walk out (still pretty insecure about my acting) and the first person I see was the guy who was my talent crush...and he was not smiling. My cast mate had a longish monologue so I had time to deal with the full on panic that had seized my chest and I sped through that first scene. I got off stage and ran into the hallway and a teacher saw me. I was crying and not breathing and she was just like, "Take a deep breath and focus on your body." She took me through a quick "self lesson" and I got back on stage and every time I started to panic, I really locked into my cast mates. Afterwards, my crush came up to me and said he enjoyed the show!
What is the one role you want to play before you die?
This is tough because I want to do everything! But it would be 2 roles. The first is Medea. I know it's a really tough play and very depressing but I LOVE that character. I know a lot of the play is hard to do (the deux ex machina, etc.) but that role is one I know I could fill, not just the rage but the vulnerability and the love lost, and the decision to kill something you love, to kill someone you love. I've actually started playing around with a modern adaption of the play. Thinking about, like, in 2013 who would she be in our culture? A celebrity? A reality star? How would I deal with the chorus? Are they the press?
The second character is Lily from Annie. Doing a musical is on my bucket list, and I love that part. It's just a lot of fun and I find myself singing "Easy Street" here and there in life, hahaha!
Who is your Broadway crush?
I can't tell you for fear it won't come true! AND I might run into that guy so I don't want to be all like, "Hey so, um, I don't know if, um, you read what I said on BroadwayWorld. But, um, if you did. I didn't mean it...unless, um, you want me to mean it? If so, my number is..."
Where can people stalk you online?
You can stalk me on Facebook!