Sarah Hanlon as Julie "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man!"

Posted by: Pia Haas on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at 12:00:00 am

Sarah (as Julie Laverne) in Show Boat.

I grew up in East Bethany, New York, a small town between Buffalo and Rochester. It was a lovely place to grow up for someone who loves nature as much as I do.  My home is nestled in the woods a mile down the road from our closest neighbor.  We had a pond in our back yard where summer swimming frequently happened, in spite of the snapping turtles.   The town's location was also within an hour's drive to great theater in Buffalo and Rochester.  I really feel like I had the best of both worlds, between the big city and rural living.  I had a plethora of pets ranging from cats and dogs to horses, and a floppy eared  bunny named Gigi.  

Performing is something I always wanted to do.  I grew up in a family that loved theater and performing.  My Dad would sing Oklahoma while walking me to the bus stop in the morning.  I think my grandmother also influenced me greatly.  She was a beautiful ballerina. In her late teens, she ran away from home and joined the circus, becoming an elephant rider.  We still have pictures and pay stubs from her time with the Barnum and Bailey circus. I always imagined running away and joining the circus, just like her.  I'm sure my parents are grateful that this did not happen, and that there were plenty of performing opportunities within our small community to keep me occupied.   I also had an amazing mentor in school, Mrs. Nelli, my high school English & Theater teacher.  She exposed me to every facet of theater, set design, makeup, acting, singing, Shakespeare.  She helped me figure out who I am, and what I wanted to be.

When I was in my early teens, my mother took me to see Show Boat for my birthday.  Show Boat had always been her favorite musical and she wanted to share her love for it with me.  I was so happy that my mom didn't bring my brother or sister along. It was just time for the two of us to share this together.  I fell madly in love with the show and made my Mom buy me the cast recording on our way out. I still have that tape, and will always cherish it.  I distinctly remember being captivated by the character of Julie.  Though, at that age, I did not completely understand her love and sacrifice, I remember being affected on an emotional level that has stayed with me throughout my life.  And, yes I've seen all the film versions.

As far as Stage Musicals being made into movie/tv musicals? I think it is great to bring the theater to the big and small screen.  It gives people who wouldn't normally want to or have the means to see a Broadway show the chance to see something magical.  What saddens me is that amazing stage performers are often overlooked during the casting process to favor a Hollywood name instead.  Part of what makes these shows so magical are the performers who live and breath these parts every day; who grew up with these stories, characters, and songs.  We should be creating the best performance possible and not be so focused on the marketing.

I haven't done any shows at WBT but so far this has been an amazing experience. And I hope they have me back again someday soon.

Obviously Show Boat, this show and role have been on my bucket list since I saw the tour.  I'm so fortunate to be able to finally take this on, and in such an amazing setting with a spectacular cast and crew.  I also love West Side Story, Man of La Mancha, Next to Normal, Hair, Oliver, and Sweeney Todd.  

When not on stage, I love anything that allows me to express myself creatively.  I really love baking and I spend way too much time watching Food Network and Youtube cooking shows, looking for new recipes.  I'm a fitness buff and enjoy weight training, yoga, and jogging.  I also volunteer whenever I can.  There's a local church that runs a soup kitchen that I'm proud and grateful to be a volunteer at.  I love traveling. I have been to every continent on this planet, and my next goal is to visit Ireland and Iceland.  

On my iPod? Right now I'm really into Elle King, but my all time favorite group is QueenFreddie Mercury is a golden god. Growing up, I took great amusement in torturing my brother with repeat listenings of Bicycle, by Queen. 



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