Hard work, dedication and passion has landed one Central Alberta dancer under the big lights in New York City.
Alison Jantzie, 27, of Lacombe recently made her Broadway debut after landing a role in Gigi.
According to the Gigi on Broadway web site, the production is, “Set in the magical world of La Belle Epoque Paris, where fashion, glamour and passion prevail, Lerner and Loewe’s celebrated musical is a romantic comedy about one young woman’s journey to find her true self… and her true love.”
Vanessa Hudgens stars in the production which also features Corey Cott, Tony Award winner Victoria Clark and Tony Award nominees Dee Hoty and Howard McGillin, among others.
Jantzie moved to New York in 2011 where she entered her first season with Radio City Music Hall where she was a Rockette. Jantzie joined her twin sisters Lisa and Kristin Jantzie and together they made history as the first sister trio to dance with the company for the first time in its 85-year history.
Alison had been with the troupe up to May of last year when she found out she had secured a role for Gigi.
“It is humbling and thrilling and unbelievable,” she said of her new gig. “Every day I walk through Times Square and from the time I essentially started dancing in Lacombe and taking class and musical theatre, people would always say, ‘You should go into musical theatre’. When I came to New York and saw my first Broadway show when I was 16 and I sat in the audience with my jaw on the floor and now after 20-some years of working towards this – to be going to work on Broadway – that’s just unbelievable.”
Rehearsals for the show began in December and the show is currently in previews which means the cast is doing rehearsals during the day and then performing the show in the evening.
“They’re making changes and always finessing the show as we go along,” said Alison.
Official opening night of Gigi is April 8th and it has an open-ended run.
Alison was cast as a ‘swing’ which means that she is responsible to know all of the female ensemble tracks of the production in case a cast member gets sick or injured or has vacation or personal days and performs as needed. Alison is also dance captain of the show.
“This is a different role than I have ever stepped into,” she said. “I just made my debut (last) Tuesday because one of the girls suffered an injury the previous night. She was at rehearsal and we weren’t sure if she was going to be on or not that evening. She had a doctor’s appointment later on in the afternoon and then at 6:30 p.m. I found out she was not going to be in the show. That basically gave me an hour and a half to prepare and fill her shoes.
“That was a really exciting night. My sister managed to make it over from her rehearsal at Radio City to come and see me. It was a really exciting thing to have her in the audience.”
Alison said there is some added pressure having to know multiple cast members’ ensembles.
“There is so much information and the interesting thing is that the show has changed so much. Everyday I learn all of the new changes for six different people basically and then I notate it and then I have to delete, delete, delete and then retype everything when things change. I have quite a comprehensive set of notes for every person and what they do on stage,” she said. “It’s nice though – it’s a different challenge than I have ever had before.”
Alison said she initially auditioned for Gigi because Joshua Bergasse was the choreographer. “He is extremely well-known – he choreographed Smash the television show, he’s choreographed On The Town on Broadway. He’s such a dynamic choreographer and that is what initially interested me in the project.
“As more information came out about the show, it made me even more excited about it.”
Meanwhile, Alison said any dancer can accomplish their dreams if they set their minds to them.
“I think it’s important to seek out any opportunity to perform or to learn, whether it’s in your community or it’s a short drive away. It’s important to take advantage of those offerings,” she said. “It’s also important to never give up. The path is not a direct express train to a destination. There are so many exciting opportunities along the way that you just have to have faith in.
“I thankfully had supportive parents and supportive dance teachers that really did try to provide me with all the opportunities that I could have. It certainly wasn’t a direct route here – there were many other paths along the way that lead you to things that you aren’t sure of and then all of a sudden you’re where you dreamed of being when you were five.”
In addition, Alison and her sisters Lisa and Kristin will return to Red Deer this August to teach a dance camp at Red Deer College from Aug. 16th-21st. Check out idinspiredance.com for more information.