Q&A@22 is an insider’s view of the work and the magic it takes to produce theater. Each show we will ask a member of the cast or crew questions about their approach to their particular theatrical craft.
Our third Q&A@22 is with Emily Gordanier, the actress playing Tracy Turnblad in our upcoming production of Hairspray. Emily is a senior at East Brunswick High School and is the EBHS Drama Club’s resident Hair and Makeup Designer. Among Emily’s credits she lists performances in Twelfth Night, Urinetown, High School Musical, and 4 years of summer productions with EBYACP as among her favorites. Emily has auditioned twice for American Idol (wait until season 11, 3 is a charm!).
What’s your first memory of performing?
Emily Gordanier: My first memory of performing is doing the Wizard of Oz when I was five. My dad was directing it at Cranford Dramatics. Unfortunately I dont actualy remember being on stage, but I do remember that I got the chicken pox and had to stay home for a week or so. I was a Munchkin, and all I remember about it was wearing this giant foam flower around my face. I was so jealous of my older sister Kim, who was a monkey, because she got to fly in the harness. I guess I’ve always been one for risk and adventure.
Have you had any training?
Not really. I took dance for 10 years, mostly at Center Stage in East Brunswick. I also attended the Middle School Of The Arts for two years, where I took their Musical Theater course. Otherwise I haven’t had much official training. My voice I’ve developed on my own and through years of choral singing in school, and acting, has just been something I’ve done since I was little, I’ve never gotten technical about it.
Is theater going to be your career or your hobby?
Like Tracy, there are so many things I want to do in life. I want to be a recording artist, a designer, a writer, a makeup artist, a sculptor, a zoo keeper, and so much more! There’s always going to be a special appreciation for theater in me because I know the hard work that goes into it, but I don’t plan on making it my career. I will do it in the future of course. It’s in my blood, I cant escape it.
Describe what being on stage in front of an audience is like.
For me, the feeling of being on stage changes with every performance. When I go out as Emily, the singer, I usually get nervous in the beginning, but after a song or two I’m very much at home. With shows its strange. I expect myself to be really anxious, but I’m not. I know that initial adrenaline will hit like normal. After that hit, its like letting the horse out from the gate. I just go and perform. I’ve learned not to psych myself out with worrying about my lines for this show. I know that I know them. I’ve been living as Tracy for two months. Its been a fun ride.
What’s your favorite role and why?
I’m going to have to go with Tracy. Apart from the fact that she’s really fun and energetic, she’s also the first major role I’ve ever had. She’s so much like me, except better, because she comes with her own background music. I wish I could break out in song like her….well actually I do that anyways, I just wish mine came with a band. I’ve wanted to play her ever since my dad came up to me after a summer theater show in 2006 and said “You were great! You are going to play Tracy one day! You’re made for it.” Since then theres always been a drive for me to play her at least once. I just feel so blessed and grateful that I got this opportunity at such a young age.
This last one is one actors get asked all the time: how do you learn all those lines?
I actually don’t know how I do it! I knew going into this, that memorizing was the most daunting task I was going to face. I’d read over the scene, get the gist, then try and start memorizing by reading things over and over. It worked for the most part. I just had to get the order of the words down for some of them.
Thank you all so much for this opportunity.
<3 xoxo Emily