WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Savannah Frazier from Broadway's AMAZING GRACE
This will probably be an emotional weekend for Savannah Frazier as the curtain comes down on Amazing Grace, the Musical, the show in which the Nashville native made her Broadway debut. Closing after its final performance at the Nederlander Theatre on Sunday, Amazing Grace gave Frazier her biggest exposure to date in New York and with its closing she heads onward - and we daresay upward - in her pursuit of musical theater dreams.
A member of the Amazing Grace ensemble, she also understudied the role of Mary Catlett in the new musical, making her official Broadway debut as a leading lady - playing Mary thrice! - in front of Nederlander audiences that boasted a sizable sampling of people from back home (who are all, justifiably, very proud of her). A graduate of Hume-Fogg Academic High School, where she worked under the tutelage of Lisa Forbis and 2014 First Night Honoree Daron Bruce, she also worked with teachers and other students and actors at Nashville Children's Theatre and with Denice Hicks and company in Nashville Shakespeare Festival's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
"Life has been wild with auditions, rehearsals, a new puppy and the show," she explains, taking time from everything else happening in her world to answer our questions, to give her Nashville friends and family a glimpse into her Broadway dream and to be featured in Where Are They Now?
How did Amazing Grace come to be for you? A series of destined events, to be honest. It's been an incredibly long process for me, starting with meeting the writer, Christopher Smith, [when I was 19] in the church my grandparents founded in Pennsylvania. My aunt introduced Chris to me because she thought it would be interesting for her actor niece to meet a writer. Chris was so lovely, and ended up asking me if I wanted to read a draft of the first musical he'd ever written, Amazing Grace. I read it that night, fell in love with the epic nature of it all, and the depth of characters. I kept in contact with him over the years, and casting called me in for Mary Catlett, the leading lady, for their regional tryout at Goodspeed Opera House. I went through several callbacks, but didn't end up booking it. Fast forward to several years later, and I was called in for their Chicago Broadway-tryout casting. I read for Sophie and Mary Catlett, and through a series of many callbacks, coachings and a final callback, I was asked to join the team. It's been a long time coming, but certainly a worthwhile journey.
What's been the most fulfilling part of your Amazing Grace/Broadway experience? I have so enjoyed watching/hearing the audience sing the title song with us at the end. The lights come up ever so much, and you can see the audience's faces so clearly. I see the beauty, the relief, the pain, the joy - all of it - on those faces. It brings me to tears every night, and I go home thinking "I get to do this for my job. What is my life?!"
What's your best memory of being on Broadway thus far? Being able to go on for the lead three times. Those moments will stay with me forever. I feel so lucky to have been given that opportunity with this show. I understudy Erin Mackey in the lead role, and her support has meant the world. I would never have imagined I'd be stepping on for a lead on Broadway at my age, so it's just a huge blessing to look back on that. Honestly? There have been so many beautiful moments with this experience, I could name many! But that's a biggie for sure.
Are things happening as you thought they would before heading out into the wide, wide world of professional theater? Well, I originally went to school at the University of Oklahoma for opera, and by a crazy spur of the moment decision I felt I had to make, I ended up leaving OK and moving to NYC for musical theatre. Nothing goes as you plan in this business, I feel. You can predict only so much, but life takes over, and throws you curve balls. I've given over to riding the wave - and striving to have no expectations or preconceived notions. Easier said than done for sure, but that mindset has been a source of peace for me.
What brought you to Nashville in the first place? I was born and raised by the ever-wonderful Rob and Carol Frazier! I miss Nashville often. It's my home.
How did your time at home help to prepare you for where you are now in your career arc? I had the honor to be involved in so many fantastic theatre communities as a child/teenager, I feel like I got a leg-up in many ways. From Nashville Shakespeare Festival to Nashville Children's Theatre to the awesome program at Hume Fogg (helmed by Lisa Forbis and Daron Bruce), all of those worlds aided me in ways that continue to reveal themselves in my adult life. I learned work ethic, professionalism, dressing room etiquette, sacrifice, the necessity of preparation, and the beauty that comes from throwing yourself into each moment. I'm grateful to each and every person who has taught me.
What's your most vivid memory of your time in the Volunteer State? Gosh, I couldn't name just one. Dixieland will always have my heart for so many reasons. I had a pretty rare and wonderful high school experience that I attribute to leading me to some of my best friends, and most importantly helping me find my place in this world. I'm one of the lucky ones that can say they loved high school. To sum it up, though: The people. My family. My friends. Just being with them and experiencing life together. That's Tennessee, that's home!
Who were some of the people back home who have had a lasting impact on your and/or your career? Lisa Forbis, Daron Bruce, Ted Wylie, Bo Sebastian, Denice Hicks, Sharon Smith, Mark Cabus, Jake Speck, Matt Logan - for professional pursuits. Carina Pearson, Bekah Powell, Rebecca Moody, Hailey Simon, Jonathan Moody, Jessica Small, Trae Miller, Austin Criner, my brothers, and my parents for the heart.
What advice would you give to someone taking their first steps to becoming a part of the theater scene wherever they may be, whether it's Nashville or New York? In Nashville and in New York I would offer the same advice: network, connect with people who do what you do or who are where you want to be, be kind to everyone you meet because the people in theater become your family, and in that way, you'll know them for your entire life whether you like it or not. Accept and celebrate your unique and beautiful gifts. Being you is something only you can do, and you're pretty excellent at it. So why not take joy in that! Challenge yourself, and expand your horizons. Find things that make you happy that have nothing to do with theater. You need those hobbies on reserve when you're not working, or after a semi-bad audition. Do things for your heart and soul. Know that each person's path is different. There's no one way to get there. Be patient; it's a marathon, not a sprint. Take classes, take voice lessons, see theater (both good and bad). Learn from watching. Read up on materials written by your professional heroes. Put yourself out there, and know that fear isn't a bad thing!
What's next for you? Well! Amazing Grace closes this Sunday, October 25. Sad, but all things must come to an end. Next, I will be leading a new industry reading of Freedom Song, a musical set in the Civil War. I'll also simultaneously be auditioning (back to the grind!), and singing for a new piece at the BMI workshop.