Allison Thomas Lee as Anita

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Posted by: Pia Haas on Monday, May 18, 2015 at 12:00:00 am

Allison Thomas Lee as Anita (left) with Carly Evans (right) as Maria in West Side Story

I was born in San Francisco but moved to Arizona with my mother when I was 3 after my parents divorced. I pretty much grew up there and moved back to San Francisco for college.  My mother put me in kiddie dance classes at  young age. Probably to give me something to do and a social outlet since it was just the two of us. I was born with dislocated hips so I was pretty flexible which made me a natural, I guess! 

I loved movies and was glued to the television 24/7 as a kid. When I started dancing, I fell in love with movie musicals-- it was the best of both worlds. As I got older, I was much more into independent films and smaller character driven movies. I was accepted to NYU out of high school but couldn't afford tuition, so I ended up going to San Francisco State to study French and minored in English Literature- quite a departure. After college I realized I still had the bug so I packed up and moved to NYC.

West Side Story was actually my second professional job ever: I performed it as part of a bus and truck tour in 1998. I knew the movie well as a kid and always dreamed of playing roles like Anita- triple threat roles where you could dance, act, and sing. This is the first show I've done here at The Westchester Broadway Theatre, and my first time playing the role. The staff is so fun! We have a great time hanging out and really enjoy each other's company. Being close to the city but not close enough forces us to stay out here and entertain each other. We drive into Tarrytown sometimes for lunch on two-show days, which is great. The Hudson River Valley is gorgeous and the drive up is beautiful.  It feels like an escape from the big city.

I had seen the West Side movie a million times, and think it's the best of its kind. There are plenty of great movie musicals and some not so great. Les Mis and Chicago were stunning, but sometimes it doesn't work quite as well. Musical theatre is such a unique genre that the smallest thing can throw it off.

Growing up as a dancer, I thought Fosse was king! I love all the roles Chita, Gwen Verdon, Liza and Ann Reinking played.  They were strong, brassy women who could do it all. As I get older, however, I am transitioning more into straight plays, film, and TV. I think it's so great that theatre actors are able to have such diverse careers; there used to be such a stigma about theatre actors not being able to translate to film and television. That's definitely not the case anymore. More and more, film and screen stars are also coming back to Broadway. There's definitely a difference in mediums, but if you understand it, I think you can excel at both.

When I'm not performing, I love seeing friends and exploring the city. There are so many amazing sights, exhibits, restaurants, and beautiful places to explore. I love to spend a whole day walking and sightseeing and eating my way around town with no thought of the business of obligations. It's like being on vacation. But given the choice, I would definitely be on vacation; I love traveling abroad.

My phone/iPod is pretty random. I grew up in the 80's, so I love cheesy, old-school tunes sometimes- anything nostalgic that reminds me of my youth. I love old-school hip hop. In college, I was definitely more alternative and loved all the Lalapalooza bands of the 90's. I definitely keep up with what's going on now and love to check out new bands, but I'd say it definitely depends on my mood... Whether I want to lift my energy or skulk around and get lost in a mood... Actors!

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