Murfreesboro's ANALISA LEAMING Comes Home to TPAC With HELLO, DOLLY! Tour
For Analisa Leaming, playing Irene Molloy in the national touring company of Hello, Dolly! - which heads to Nashville next week for an eight-performance run at Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Andrew Jackson Hall - there are more reasons than usual to be exhilarated and excited for an impending opening night in a new city and venue.
Rather, for Leaming at least, playing Andrew Jackson Hall carries with it all manner of memories and heightened emotions - the very hopes and dreams that have fueled her pursuits for a career in musical theater since she was a child. Having gone to middle school and high school in Murfreesboro (she's a Riverdale High grad), she grew up among those loyal TPAC audiences, witnessing countless touring companies in performance, nurturing her dream of someday performing on that very same stage in productions of similar ilk.
Now, with the Betty Buckley-led production of the Tony Award-winning revival of Hello, Dolly! heading to town, her long-held dream will come true. And you may rest assured that every member of her family, every friend, every schoolmate - perhaps the entire population of Murfreesboro - will be on hand to experience her dream come true.
"I would sit in the audience, watching all these shows and I would dream that one day I would be on that stage," she recollects. "And now my dream will come true!"
The experience is sure to be a memorable one, Leaming maintain: "It's really surreal and kind of emotional for me," she says. "I've never played TPAC before and I have so many memories of being in the audience for so many shows, so it makes our week in Nashville so special."
In fact, she says, once she started keeping track of who among her friends and family would be in attendance for Hello, Dolly! at TPAC, she came to the realization that she has "people coming for every performance."
The support for her show comes as absolutely no surprise for Leaming: "I was always a part of the drama departments at my schools in Murfreesboro," she says. "I participated in community theaters and my family went to see everything at TPAC."
A member of the all-state choir, she also took part in the Governor's School of the Arts, an annual summer event at Middle Tennessee State University, adding even more home-grown experiences to her theatrical bona fides.
"I don't remember a time in my life that a career in the arts wasn't my dream," Leaming explains. "I just have so many memories watching Julie Andrews on my TV screens growing up, of church and school musicals - there was always a burning desire in my heart to do what I am now doing."
Although she sometimes felt like an enigma among her peers - "When people found out I could sign, they would ask if I sang country music or if I was planning to audition for American Idol." - when for much of her life, her heart was set on a career in opera before she truly found her voice in musical theater.
In New York, she's performed on Broadway and at Lincoln Center, and now on tour with Hello, Dolly!, a show she joined for its recent critically acclaimed revival starring Bette Midler (who was followed by such Tony Award-winning luminaries as Donna Murphy and Bernadette Peters), she's able to enjoy her cross-country trek with her husband and her dog traveling with her ("We chose to make an adventure out of this year on tour," she says), bringing the joyful show to audiences.
"It so much fun to be able to bring this show all over the country," she says. "It's the quintessential Broadway musical, with sumptuous costumes and beautiful sets, amazing dancing and a great cast.
"I think it's fascinating that the show was originally done in the 1960s and has been revived four times and audiences still respond so warmly to it."
Perhaps, she muses, it's the story of Dolly Levi's never-say-die attitude and her perseverance that makes the show so wonderfully appealing to audiences in the 21st century: "it takes place in New York in the 1890s, but it has such a huge heart and such a beautiful message of living your life to its fullest and not letting the parade pass you by," she contends. "It's funny and very moving."
And for every audience member who can enumerate the many times they've seen Hello, Dolly! - and name the show's leading ladies for each production - there are those newcomers to the Jerry Herman musical who are seeing it for the very first time with Betty Buckley in the iconic title role.
For Analisa Leaming, who dreamed of stardom while growing up in Murfreesboro, this particular tour, her entire career even, is all a part of a dream come true. "It's such a gift to be able to transport audiences to another world," she says. "And how lucky are we to do that eight shows a week."
About Analisa Leaming
Broadway: School of Rock; The King and I (Lincoln Center); Hello, Dolly!; On the Twentieth Century. New York: Pipe Dream, Where's Charley? (Encores!); The Mikado (Carnegie Hall). National/international tours: Annie, The Sound of Music. Regional: The Muny, Kansas City Starlight Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre, Magic Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Infinity Theatre Company, Barrington Stage Company. Leaming is a Lotte Lenya Competition winner. Creator of A Balancing Act podcast. B.M. Eastman School of Music. www.AnalisaLeaming.com
About Hello, Dolly!
Hello, Dolly!, the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival, is coming to Music City! The national tour, starring Broadway legend Betty Buckley will play a one-week engagement at Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Jackson Hall from April 30 - May 5.
Tickets are on sale at www.tpac.org, by phone at (615) 782-4040 and at the TPAC Box Office, 505 Deaderick Street, in downtown Nashville. For groups of 10 or more, call (615) 782-4060.
Tony Award®-winning Broadway legend Betty Buckley stars in Hello, Dolly! - the universally acclaimed smash that NPR calls "the best show of the year!" and the Los Angeles Times says "distills the mood-elevating properties of the American musical at its giddy best." Winner of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, director Jerry Zaks' "gorgeous" new production (Vogue) is "making people crazy happy!" (The Washington Post). Breaking box office records week after week and receiving unanimous raves on Broadway, this Hello, Dolly! pays tribute to the original work of legendary director/choreographer Gower Champion - hailed both then and now as one of the greatest stagings in musical theater history. Rolling Stone calls it "a must-see event. A musical comedy dream. If you're lucky enough to score a ticket, you'll be seeing something historic. Wow, wow, wow, indeed!"
Led by four-time Tony Award-winning director Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, the entire creative team of the Broadway production will reprise their roles for the national tour of Hello, Dolly! including four-time Tony Award winner Santo Loquasto (Scenic & Costume Design), six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), Tony Award winner Scott Lehrer (Sound Design), Andy Einhorn (Music Direction), Tony Award winner Larry Hochman (Orchestrations), Tony Award winner Don Pippin (Vocal Arrangements), David Chase (Dance Arrangements), and Telsey + Company (Casting).
Hello, Dolly! began performances on Broadway on March 15, 2017, and officially opened on April 20, 2017. Having broken the record for best first day of ticket sales in Broadway history, the box office record at the Shubert Theatre twelve times, and shattering The Shubert Organization's all-time record ten times, the production ended its historic Broadway run on August 25, 2018.
For more information, visit www.HelloDollyOnBroadway.com.