In The News

Josh Drake nominated for

Best Actor for

An American In Paris,

and is profiled in Playbill Magazine

Voyage LA Magazine profiles our own Sara Wimmer

NOVEMBER 12, 2019

Conversations with the Inspiring Sara Wimmer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Wimmer.

Sara, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.


My journey as an actress started as a young girl growing up in North Carolina. I started dance classes at the age of 3, training in Modern, Jazz, Ballet, and Tap most days of the week. When I was about 11 years old, Chicago the Musical movie came out on DVD. I watched it almost religiously. The power that the women held in that film using dance and song was invigorating. That was the turning point where I knew what I wanted to do in my life. I started training for musicals immediately. I discovered more of my vocal talents and dove into acting. A couple of years later, Clater-Kaye Theatreworks (NC) cast me to star as the lead, Polly Baker, in Crazy For You at one of the local theatre houses in North Carolina at the age of 14. The show was a hit and it only made me hungrier for more. I then starred in Hairspray as Velma Von Tussle, Grease as Marty, Smokey Joe’s Cafe as Delee, and A Chorus Line as Cassie, learning and performing the original choreography. I met incredible people through doing these shows which led to working on two Broadway workshops. I then chose to continue my studies and move to New York City and train at AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy). The city was everything a young girl could dream except I had been struggling with what everyone thought was shin splints but years later after moving to the Big Apple was it discovered that it was something more serious… I was in excruciating pain daily and all I wanted to do was dance but I was restricted from jumping off the floor. Living in NY was tough with this syndrome. I couldn’t walk 5 blocks without having my feet going numb and finding it difficult to walk because of the lack of blood flow. I was depressed for the first time in my life. I didn’t know what to do and found it hard to get up in the morning and go to a dance class that I couldn’t participate in.

 

 

Towards the end of my first year at AMDA, I received a call from a director I had previously worked with and asked if I would be available to do Dreamgirls at The Muny in St. Louis! I was shocked! I was 18 and being offered to work my first professional show. I was even more determined to get my dancing legs back and settle that issue. I met with a specialist that works with dancers and he immediately said that I had been struggling with Exercise-Induced Compartment Syndrome in both of my legs. This was a diagnosis that had taken five years to conclude. I was relieved that my questions and doubts about whether I’d ever be able to dance again, were answered positively. I had the surgery done and that night after the procedure, when I was supposed to be resting, I was up walking around the room without any pain. I was ecstatic! After the surgery, I had about two weeks to heal, and get myself back to dancer shape. So, I did. Working alongside some of Broadway’s icons, Jennifer Holliday and Christopher Jackson was a dream! What a thrill it was to dance and sing with the Greats and to hear 10,000 audience members cheer, there is nothing like it.

I then went back to NYC to finish my last year at AMDA and stayed another year in the city, auditioning and working but I couldn’t shake the depression that had come over me while living there. It was so different from the blue skies I grew up with, on top of the depression that came from my dancing struggle. I needed to get out and find my happiness again. I decided to move to Los Angeles. I had visited it before and it resembled a lot of my Carolina lifestyle. It turned out to be my home away from home. I have been living in LA for a little more than three years and I have loved every bit of it. I found interest in the Film/TV world that only makes me feel closer to my goal I made when I was 11 years old watching Chicago. I have done both theatre and most recently my first TV pilot, Salem High. I look forward to the journey that’s mapped out ahead of me and I can’t wait to see where it goes!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?


This business is tough. It takes a lot of not just physical, but mental strength. I learned early on that if I get in my head about something, it’s over. I am my biggest critic and am very good at belittling myself if I let it. As an actress in this world, there is a good amount of sexual harassment, competitiveness amongst your peers, and the simple fact of feeling lonely in a big city. It can be difficult being vulnerable while also having to protect yourself from the outside negatives. My advice I give to myself and others, is to “do you to the best of your ability, let the rest fall into place.” An old colleague of mine said that in passing one day and it has stuck with me for years and he was right! You can only control yourself and your actions. All else will find its place whether it’s something you will be involved in or not.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?

 

I specialize in the arts. It’s what I know and breathe. I’m proud to say that my work doesn’t come from a place of showboating or having the need to tell everyone in the world about my work. I do my work because it brings my soul joy and keeps me hungry for more. Being humble is something I’m proud of. Always staying grounded and reminding myself how I got to the places I am today. I’m very lucky to have the support system I have backing me every step of the way. That alone sets me apart from others. I’d also add, that when I am on a stage, I really connect with the people in the audience. I love making them feel emotions that they have been bottling down or perhaps have never experienced before. That is a gift to me. If I can deeply move one person in that audience, I’m genuinely happy. And that’s why I do it.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?


My way of finding a mentor is going to new studios for dance, acting, and voice. You’re placing yourself in a room with other creatives with similar dreams and goals. Odds are you will find someone there that you really connect and listen to. Clater-Kaye Theatreworks is where I found my current mentors and I’ve known them for 10+ years. They have my back and I have theirs. That’s most important.

Josh Drake takes time off from Disney's Aladdin on Broadway to take the starring role in An American In Paris!

Josh Drake has the WOW Factor at the MET Gala

Robby Clater is a featured performer at 54 Below

Natalie Kaye Clater is now a permanent part of the Hamilton Exhibition

Natalie Kaye Clater who is part of the Hamilton National Tour, was selected to perform with Lin-Manuel Miranda in an immersive exhibit featuring the opening number from the show, Alexander Hamilton.

Alexander Hamilton’s remarkable story has inspired millions of Americans. Now, you can see it through his eyes in this 360-degree immersive exhibition inspired by the revolutionary musical.

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Debut of the Month: Welcome to Our World!

Robby Clater Makes His Broadway Debut in PRETTY WOMAN

by Caryn Robbins Aug 28, 2018

Robby Clater makes his Broadway debut as David Morse in Pretty Woman: THE MUSICAL, a new original theatrical take on the classic 1990's film. The love story follows unlikely soulmates Vivian Ward and Edward Lewis, who overcome all odds to find each other and themselves. Today Clater speaks to BroadwayWorld about making his Broadway debut in a show which takes the true spirit of the iconic movie and brings it to a whole new generation of theater-goers.

Many audience members arrive with a pre-existing adoration for this story and its characters. Does that add a certain amount of pressure on you and your cast mates to meet their expectations?

Absolutely it does, it's big shoes to fill. This movie is so iconic and I honestly think that the majority of the weight of that burden falls on Samantha Barks. She has such a high bar to hold herself up to, she has to hold herself up to the Pretty Woman, to Julia Roberts. And I think that's the biggest risk to doing a show like this, that people might say "oh, but she wasn't Julia so..." But we have not run into that at all because Samantha is brilliant - she is gorgeous, she's charming, she is everything, and she is one of the most consistent vocalists I have ever seen. The woman is flawless! And I tell everybody I know who is going to be coming to the show, I say to them, 'you gotta be careful because you're going to fall in love with Samantha Barks by the end of it!"

You really do. And it's so hard to believe that this is her Broadway debut.

Well she's been all over the world, she's an international superstar, so it's so great that we finally get to bring her to Broadway. And that I get to make my debut with her. It's fantastic.

Did they change the track of your character at all from the film version?

Well the Morse family is portrayed just a little bit differently in the stage portrayal than in the movie in that we are now an Afro-American family. They appeared in that iconic scene in the movie where they sit down for dinner and Vivian is having trouble with the escargot and she's fiddling around with it and the Morses are very friendly, very helpful to her. Yet at the same time they are having this very pivotal business meeting, this real battle of forces with Edward Lewis. And so that scene is actually very well balanced and I'm so happy I get to portray that on stage because the narrative of what is going on in the scene is so important and so powerful, while at the same time, everyone is just so captivated by the charm and beauty of Vivian Ward, who is Samantha Barks in our production.

What was it like to make your Broadway debut in Pretty Woman?

Oh man, that was really special, it was really quite fantastic. It's something that I've been working towards for such a long time. It's one of those things that telling theater is what I do, it's my passion. I do that on every stage. And if I didn't have a stage I'd lay down a piece of cardboard and do it on the street. But man, I gotta tell you that was probably one of the most exciting first steps on stage I ever took and one of the most exciting bows at the end of show that I've ever had in my life. The energy was just electric, so much support both from the audience and from my fellow cast mates. There was just so much love on stage and you could really feel that, and I felt like the audience could feel it coming out of me too, because I was just beaming, over the moon. A great landmark moment for me!

Excerpts from BroadwayWorld.com
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I understand Julia Roberts did come to a recent performance.

Yes, she did come. We had a tribute performance for Garry Marshall and we did this thing where we all came out wearing purple, which was his favorite color. And we gave a seat in his honor at the Nederlander Theatere and Julia Roberts, as well as many other people who were part of that extended Garry Marshall family came down to see us before the show. And Julia loved it, she was beaming the entire time. She even volunteered to spend some time backstage with the cast and the creatives. She took some pictures and really talked with us and shared her own experience and told us how much she loved not only the musical but Garry and everything that this story represents to her. It was really special having her.

BWW congratulates Robby Clater on his Broadway debut in Pretty Woman! His other theater credits include Connected, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Dreamgirls, and Grease. Readings and workshops include The Time of Nick, First Kids and The Stephen Schwartz Project.

Leah Brooks Interviewed by the UNC Pauper Players as Assistant Music Director

Hey Paups! 
Don't quite know how to settle the nerves before an audition? Meet Leah Brooks, our assistant music director, and check out her tips!

What are some warm up tips you have before an audition? Before every audition, I like to do a quick warm up with some ahhs, warm up to my highest notes and warm down to my lowest notes. I like to stretch even if I am not dancing because it makes me feel more relaxed. I will usually run through my song once or twice, but no more than twice because then I start to psyche myself out and think I will forget the words!! Also, drink lots of water, NOT coffee (although I am guilty of that whoops).

What advice would you give to a newcomer? 
The advice I would give to a newcomer is to GET OUT THERE AND TRY THINGS! I was very nervous to audition for a show my freshman year at UNC, but cannot explain how thankful I am that I did. I have met some of the most wonderful, kind, compassionate, and talented people through UNC student theatre and it is such an incredible community to be a part of a Carolina. And don't be afraid to audition for multiple things, or come back and audition for another show if you do not get cast! Putting your name out there and becoming a part of the theatre community is so awesome, regardless of if you are on the stage, or working behind the scenes to make a show happen.

This world will remember me for...
being a coffee addict, an avid Harry Potter reader, a lover of music, a crazy Carolina basketball fan, and someone who is trying to change the world through THE ARTS! They matter!!!

Leah was one of our dancers in Dancing For The Stars 2016 and was showcased in several CBTC shows including Into The Woods, Footloose and High School Musical Jr.

Josh Drake Named One Of The 10 Hottest Men On Broadway by Out.com 

Continuing to do more for others, Josh once again stars in Broadway Bares, a important charitable event on Broadway that helps make a real difference in the LGBTQ+ community. The annual extravaganza is back to raise money and awareness for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. For more information click broadwaybares.com

Josh was the first ever winner of Dancing For The Stars with Penny Black and starred in Les Miserables, A Chorus Line, The Stephen Schwartz Project, First Kids and Crazy For You for CBTC. 

From the Executive Director, Lesia Kaye

Due to the ongoing health concerns with COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to postpone our Junior and Senior shows until further notice. Your child's safety and well being is our number one priority.

Contact Info

Email: lesiakaye@carolinabroadway.org