Friday, October 11, 2013

Chelsea Williams lands starring role in National tour of Mama Mia! - By Elizabeth Richards

Chelsea Williams didn’t always know she wanted to be an actress. In fact, she thought she’d be an athlete until she began to experiment with theater during her freshman year of high school. Now, the 2008 Windham High School graduate is playing a lead role in the Mamma Mia! National Tour.
Williams said she had a late start in theater compared to many people she’s met in the industry. She began taking voice lessons in middle school, but was primarily interested in sports and visual arts at that time. In high school that slowly began to change. First, she did a musical production her freshman year, and added more and more theater until she found herself ducking out of sporting events and opting for drama club. 

Towards the end of high school, she discovered that she could study theater in college. “It was my senior year and I realized ‘I don’t think there’s anything else I can picture myself doing’, and I ended up at Emerson,” she said.
Williams said that she loved Windham High School, and is thankful for the experiences she had there. “You look back and you realize how all of those events brought you to where you are now, and I’m really happy that I grew up in Windham,” she said.

Williams studied musical theater at Emerson College in Boston. After graduating, she remained in Boston to work, and travelled to New York for auditions regularly. The audition process for Mamma Mia! was seven months long, and she found out she’d been cast as Sophie in July, just a month before rehearsals started. “I was planning to move to New York in September, and then this came up and changed everything,” she said.

After a month of rehearsals in New York, the show went to South Carolina for tech rehearsals, and then on to Orlando for the opening of the tour. A little less than a week after opening, Williams said they are just getting used to having an audience, and the different energy that brings to a performance.
While Williams has never been part of a touring production before, and “life on the road” hasn’t begun in earnest yet, she said it’s about to get really crazy. On the first leg of the tour, there are several one night performances, where the cast will perform, get up early the next day to travel to the next venue, and perform again that evening. “We’re going to get used to sleeping on the bus,” she said.

Williams said she had no idea what to expect when touring with a show. “I’ve really been astounded by the commitment and the work ethic of the rest of the cast and the creative team,” she said. It has to be a team effort to put the show on each night, she said, and everyone depends on each other to make the show work. “The camaraderie is really nice. Everyone is really looking out for each other and that’s been really, really cool to watch develop,” she added.

Williams said one big challenge will be to keep the show fresh when performing it over such a long time span. She said she knows she’ll need to keep a sharp focus and come in every night trying to perform true to opening night.

The show opened in Orlando on Thursday, October 3rd, and the review in the Orlando Sentinel, which read, “Chelsea Williams, as Sophie, has a pleasant voice and effortlessly strikes the right balance of sweetness and determination,”  indicates success for the 23-year-old actress. 

The tour, which runs through June of 2014, will bring Williams to both major cities and smaller venues across the country, as well as a few in Canada. There will be some close enough for hometown fans to travel to, including a one-night run in Bangor.

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