By Jeilianne Vazquez & Ethan Baez
Senior BFA Musical Theatre major Allie Hill is jumping into the theatre industry head-first this summer at the Woodstock Playhouse Summer Theatre Festival. Woodstock Playhouse is a celebrated site of American Theatre history, established in 1938 as one of the first rural extensions of Broadway and is a popular theatre on the summer stock circuit. Prominent actors and actresses have graced the stage at Woodstock, including Larry Hagman, Anne Meara, Peter Boyle, and Diane Keaton.
Allie will be originating a role in Gatsby: The New American Musical, which will get a staged reading during Woodstock’s summer festival. GTA audiences will remember Allie from her performances as Judy in 9 to 5, Martha in The Secret Garden, and Wallace in Living Out. We sat down with Allie to talk about the exciting opportunities she has coming up and how GTA has prepared her for her future in theatre.
How did you get cast at Woodstock Playhouse?
I auditioned for the A1 Conference back in January, and I got a callback for Woodstock through that. For the callback, I sang sides for certain shows in their season and sent them a vocal reel and a dance reel. They contacted me again and I had a phone interview. I got the offer around the middle of February.
What was it like auditioning at the A1 Conference?
Well, it was virtual, so self-taping central. Funnily enough, I usually wear sweatpants or pajama pants or running shorts when I film, but I made myself put on a whole outfit, like shoes and everything just to make myself feel like I was really there and in person, which I think really helped. I actually had Covid when I first filmed my auditions, so I like to think that even Covid couldn’t stop me from getting the part. I was inside my house quarantining and drinking lots of fluid and trying to belt to this guy, but it all worked out in the end.
Tell us about the summer festival.
The festival runs from June 10 to August 21, and includes Footloose, Beauty and the Beast, Noises Off, Cabaret, and Gatsby. Gatsby is a new musical being adapted there, and I’m principally contracted under that show. I will be in the ensemble of all the other musicals and I have the opportunity to audition for Noises Off once I get there.
Are you excited to work on a new musical?
It’s really exciting to originate a role, but it’s also a little daunting to think about There’s all the music, all the lines, elements of a new show that people don’t really think of. But it’s also really exciting and creatively liberating to think about how I get to interpret it and not have any preconceived notions get in the way of that. Obviously I can consult my peanut gallery of friends and professors, but ultimately I get to make my own choices which is really freeing, especially considering the risks of imposter syndrome so it’s really nice to be able to do my own thing.
That’s a lot of shows in a short amount of time! What is the schedule like?
It is a lot. On one hand, we have to learn Footloose in nine days—it’s nine 10-out-of-12 rehearsals and then we open. On the other hand, the rush of theater is intoxicating. I want to eat musical theater for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day anyways, so I’m really grateful and excited to be a part of shows I love.
How has GTA prepared you for life after graduation?
I’m very grateful for all of GTA. I think this place is great, but the Audition Technique class with Michael Jablonski has really helped me learn how much work you need to do before bringing in a song or a monologue or even a side to an audition or callback. In class, we review three different sectors of analysis for a song, and the one that really helps me with the music analysis is where we look at the more technical elements in music, such as time signatures and verbiage, and how it kind of tells you how to act out a song. Growing up as someone who was primarily a singer I had in my head that I just have to sing what’s written and sing it correctly, but it’s really about your acting more than anything. It’s crazy actually, everything is literally laid out in front of you textually and musically and it’s up to you to decide how to interpret what you’re analyzing.
What is your advice for upcoming GTA students?
It’s cliche, but truly you’ve got to show up, be kind, and be thankful. I feel like we all sometimes fall into the trap of thinking it is our right to perform when it is an absolute privilege. Opening night could also be closing night, and we never know the last time we’re gonna be able to perform, so take every single opportunity as a gift. I think the passion speaks for itself, so, if you’re really passionate about what you’re doing, you’re gonna get there. That’s the attitude you have to bring to all the auditions you’ll be doing.
Do you have final thoughts about your time with GTA?
Not to make myself a tree and be sappy, but I am so grateful for GTA and all my friends and professors who have really poured into me and made sure that I was taking care of myself while also taking care of my art. It’s really important to me—I’m really going to miss it here. I’m excited to go to Woodstock but I’m not excited to leave the people I’ve created bonds with over the years. Still though, I am very thankful.