What an incredible summer!
After opening JAMES & THE GIANT PEACH, we began rehearsals for BIG RIVER with director Cody Walker. It was a beautifully-done show of epic proportions. My roles as Widow Douglas and Sally Phelps were great "book-ends" to the show, as I am only in the first scenes of Act I and then don't appear again until the very last scenes of Act II. Even though I didn't have much stage time, I got the chance to off-stage sing on the beautiful gospel numbers and the funeral scene hymn. What joy to tell this story!
Then, we moved on to HAIRSPRAY where I got the cream of the crop of great roles: the Female Authority Figure. It's the essential character role with great physical comedy and killer one-liners that had the audience in stitches. The FAF (for short) is a track usually played by one adult female actor, which consists of the characters Prudy Pingleton, Gym Teacher, and Prison Matron. I also got to double as a Pinkette in "Welcome to the 60s" and a Council Mom in "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful." Talk about a lot of wig and costume changes! Between my five roles and my post as an off-stage singer in some of my favorite numbers ("Nicest Kids in Town" and "I Know Where I've Been"), I was constantly moving and involved for the entire show. It was an absolute blast to be part of such a big ensemble piece that was high energy with a great feel-good message.
If I had to pick a favorite scene or character, I'd have to go with the Prison Matron. Scatting at the end of "Big Dollhouse" was one of my favorite moments because the director and choreographer, Wes Drummond, really let me improvise and make different choices each night. I'm so glad he trusted me to create wildly different characters and continue to play with them during the performances.
I enjoyed my summer experience so immensely, and I would highly recommend working with McLeod Summer Playhouse in Carbondale, IL to anyone who has the opportunity. Great staff, crew, creative team, actors, and audiences!
Danae DeShazer is an actress, singer, and dancer living in Sarasota, FL.