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Behind the Scenes

Four performers with Houston and Texas connections share their stories about life in the limelight.

Article by Memorial Lifestyle Staff

Photography by Courtesy Photos

Originally published in Memorial Lifestyle

Samantha Williams

Currently starring as Emmie in the hit Broadway show Caroline, Or Change

@sawmie 

 

How did you become interested in Broadway? 

What kicked off my love, specifically, was when I saw the national tour of Wicked in 6th grade. I was obsessed with everything about that show, and I knew I had to be on Broadway.

What is one thing most people don't know about performing on Broadway?

A lot of literal blood, sweat, and tears go into making a show run smoothly. Our days include doctor appointments, training sessions, rehearsals, voice lessons, workshop presentations, etc. It is a truly non-stop lifestyle, but I wouldn't want it any other way.

How has growing up in Houston/Texas played a part in your career?

I spent most of my childhood two hours north of Houston, in Lufkin, Texas. As soon as I realized my passion was acting and singing, I jumped at any opportunity I could find there. After my freshman year at Lufkin Highschool, I auditioned for the High School for Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA). After receiving the news that I had gotten in, my mom and I moved to Houston, and the rest was history. 

 

 

Ashton Lambert 

Currently a Swing and the Assistant Dance Captain on the first national tour of Tootsie. www.ashtonlambert.com

@ashtolambo

 

How did you get started in your career?

I performed in my first show when I was three years old. My father was the director of drama at The Kinkaid School in Houston, and he needed a young boy to play Astyanax in his production of Trojan Women, so naturally, he chose his son. I then performed in my first professional production, A Christmas Carol, when I was seven years old at the Alley Theatre.  

Do you have any rituals that you do before going on stage?

I try to remind myself of why I perform before I go onstage. I remind myself that it's the audience's first time seeing the show, and they deserve as good of a show as the people that saw it before them.  

Is there one role that you dream of playing on stage?

 

As someone who grew up loving movie musicals, I've always wanted to play Don or Cosmo in Singin' in the Rain. Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor were two of my idols growing up.  

How has growing up in Houston/Texas played a part in your career?

I honestly believe Houston is one of the best places to grow up as a young actor. The training I received in Houston was unparalleled. I trained/performed at TUTS, the Humphrey's School, The Alley Theatre, Wildfish Theatre, The Tribble School, Masquerade Theatre, HITS, and The Kinkaid School. 

 

 

Greer Gisy

Currently Dance Supervisor of the Hamilton Angelica Tour

www.GreerGisy.com

 

How did you become interested in performing? 

My parents put me in ballet class when I was three years old; it was a kinder-combo class in which we learned both ballet and tap. I always loved ballet, but getting the chance to experience the performing arts through an entire world of opportunities solidified my transition from ballet to Broadway.

 

What is one thing most people don't know about performing on stage? 

The nerves never go away. After all these years of being on stage, I still get nervous to break a leg. I used to think being nervous was a weakness, but it's quite the opposite - it means I still love it. I don't perform on stage in my current position, but I still get butterflies when I'm watching from the wings. 

 

How has Texas played a part in your career?

Texas has been a career hub for me many times - from touring (twice), playing the Zach Theater in Austin, and teaching at TXST University. Southern vibes remind me of where I come from and all the tacos I can eat!

 

 

Demola, also known as Demola The Violinist.

@demolaviolinist 

Latest album: Classics With Demola,vol 1

 

Why did you decide to combine Afrobeats and Reggae with the violin? 

As an African, I wanted to make music with the violin that Africans and Caribbean could connect to. It's my way of exporting the rhythms of Africa to the world of instrumental music and crossing cultural barriers without words. 

 

Are people surprised when they see you perform live? 

Yes, they are. I sound better performing live; the interaction is different, the feeling of being in the same space of my performance is pure magic. 

 

You are very musically talented - why did you decide to stick with violin as your primary instrument?

The connection I have with the violin is way different from other instruments. I also decided to take the more difficult route of choosing an instrument that isn't very popular for mainstream music. There is so much to the violin that I think the world at large hasn't been exposed to. I want to make the violin a staple in the mainstream industry in every culture and country.

 

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