BWW Interview: Ally Borgstrom in CINDERELLA at The Growing Stage 11/24 to 12/17
The Growing Stage, The Children's Theatre of New Jersey will celebrate the holidays with CINDERELLA: A Holiday Musical from November 24th through December 17th. A musical by Alyn Cardarelli and Steve Goers, the show was originally produced in 2003 by Emerald City Theatre in Chicago. The Growing Stage production is under the direction of Lori B. Lawrence, the theatre's Director of Educational Programming with choreography by Jillian Petrie and musical direction by Stephen Fox.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Ally Borgstrom who plays Cinderella in CINDERELLA: A Holiday Musical.
Borgstrom is a recent graduate from DeSales University, and is thrilled to be performing again at The Growing Stage. As a child she participated in the theatre's summer program back in 2005, and couldn't be happier to continue her professional career here. Past credits include: Disney's Beauty and the Beast (Babette) at The Growing Stage, numerous productions at The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Taming of the Shrew (Bianca), The Little Mermaid (The Little Mermaid), Blithe Spirit (Edith), Les Miserables (Ensemble) and many more. Educational credits include: Little Women the musical (Jo), Young Frankenstein (Inga), and Me and My Girl (Jaquie), among others. She would like to thank her family, friends, her partner Ryan for all their love and support. Also Lori, Stephen, and Jillian for their incredible creativity, dedication, direction, and everyone involved in Cinderella for helping to create such a beautiful and charming show.
Tell us a little about your education at DeSales University and how it influenced your career in theatre.
I graduated this year from DeSales University with a B.A in musical theater as well as a dual major in marketing. It was a small program, around 30 students in each class (including Acting/Directing and Design Tech majors) which was great because the teachers truly knew each student, that one-on-one time in class with the teacher was so valuable. The B.A was also nice compared to a B.F.A as we got a solid foundation for not only the arts, but all of our subjects. After all, theater holds a mirror up to life, and the more you can experience the more you can draw from. DeSales has such a well-rounded program, our faculty was so dedicated and devoted to each student and they really had the time to be, which isn't always the case in larger programs. The vocal training was also very strong, I came in as an alto and my voice teacher, Lou Lanza, turned me into a soprano within my first semester. DeSales also offers a lot of opportunity to it's students not only on stage in their six show season, and in it's Senior Showcase in NYC, but also over the summer at The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. PSF has a great program for the DeSales students called 'the young company' which I was apart of for 3 years, the perfect springboard for any young actor's career. The program allows students to leave DeSales with professional credits, the opportunity to join the EMC program, their first experience in a professional theater, and the opportunity to work with and learn from many seasoned actors. PSF was my first experience in professional children's theater, which is a totally different experience from other kinds of theater and can actually be more challenging as it requires a very specific energy and level of endurance. DeSales offered so many great things, but I'd have to say the people were the best part. I was surrounded by kindness and a strong sense of family, and you can't get that just anywhere.
Who have been some of your mentors?
I've been extremely lucky to have such wonderful teachers in my life. Throughout my education I was surround by awesome teachers, Deb Lockwood, Rosemary Kumma, Stacy Higgins. They still come to see me perform after all of these years, and I honestly think they're the ones who inspired me to pursue it. Anne Lewis, Lou Lanza, and Dennis Razze, were among my many wonderful mentors in undergrad, I could go to them for anything, and they got me through many tough times during those years. Being a student can be stressful, and college is a time in your life where guidance and advice are the best medicine. I still keep in touch with all of them, they're family to me. I couldn't thank them enough for all the hours I spent chatting their ears off (even when they didn't have office hours).
Why do you think children's theatre is so essential in the performing arts?
It's our next generation of artists! Technology is taking over and more and more children are growing up without basic communication skills because they are stuck in their ipads. Live theater is so important, especially at a young age, and so magical with those young imaginations. I was one of those kids once too, I saw "Wicked" on Broadway and stood on my chair at intermission cheering for them to 'do it again'. Then they did act 2 and I thought it was just for me. I'll never forget that experience. We need to get those kids in the seats, it cultivates their creativity, stimulates their minds, and opens their hearts. Anyone can pop in a DVD of "Cinderella" but how can you compare that to being able to really see her, alive, breathing the same air? It's a completely different experience and one that is so much more memorable and really leaves a strong impact. Live theater is fearless, it's inspiring, and that's what I would want for my kids one day.
What are some challenges of playing the character of Cinderella in the Growing Stage production.
It's going to be challenging because Cinderella is such a classic and iconic character, and our production challenges that image but in the best way. Many children will come in wanting the Disney film, but it's my hope that they'll leave thinking this Cinderella is way cooler. She's rough around the edges, clumsy, not at all the picture of perfection that we expect. She's independent and while falling in love with the prince is great, seeing the world is really what this girl is all about. I'm so happy that Disney and other writers in the industry are starting to come out with more realistic female figures. You can really see the evolution of heroines over time and I'm loving where it's going. Films like "Wonder Woman" and "Moana" give young girls role models that they can really look up to and I think this Cinderella will definitely fit that category. She's got a lot of spunk, and she's REAL! She's also great in a sword fight, how can you not love that?
Tell us a little about working at The Growing Stage.
The Growing Stage is like Neverland, full of magic and no one has to grow up (unless they want to). It's so much fun and it's actually where I got my start back in 2005 when I participated in their youth summer camp. I feel like a kid again, it's such a magical place with beautiful fairy tale murals painted on the walls and even a yellow brick road! The creative team is awesome, Lori, Steve, Jillian, Stephen, Danny, every one! They are so kind, knowledgeable, and a blast to work with. Everyone here is so talented, dedicated, and devoted to creating a memorable experience for those kids. It's a family, we laugh, we work hard, it's the best.
What do you want audiences to know about CINDERELLA-A Holiday Musical.
Cinderella doesn't need a prince, she needs SHOES (although the Prince is a pretty cool guy)! This Cinderella not only needs courage but she needs shoes if shes going to leave her wicked step family in the middle of winter. This story is a charming, spunky twist on the original fairy tale, and will leave the audience feeling inspired and full of holiday cheer. The music is beautiful, you''ll laugh, you'll cry, you might even get asked to the winter ball! You'll definitely be asked to try on a shoe. This production is very interactive, characters are moving through the audience, we break the 4th wall, the audience is really immersed in the world of the show.
Anything else, absolutely anything you want BWW readers to know.
Come see this production! The cast is wonderful, the characters are so full of life, it's a truly heart warming show that everyone is sure to love. You also get to meet the characters after the show to round out a magical day!
CINDERELLA: A Holiday Musical will be performed at The Growing Stage, The Children's Theatre of New Jersey from November 24th through December 17th. The theatre is located in the Historic Palace Theatre on Route 183 in Netcong. Performances are Friday evenings at 7:30 PM, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 4:00 PM. The Growing Stage brings back FUN-tastic Fridays with all tickets $15. Saturday and Sunday tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for children. Also, Season Ticket Packages and Group rates are available. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.growingstage.com/ or contact the Box Office at (973) 347-4946.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ally Borgstrom