Valley Christian grad to perform in ’42nd Street’ SanTan Sun News

Valley Christian grad to perform in ’42nd Street’

June 30th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
Valley Christian grad to perform in ’42nd Street’
Arts
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By Colleen Sparks, Managing Editor

 

A 19-year-old rising star and Valley Christian High School graduate who made her mark in the East Valley youth theater scene is going to kick up her heels in the musical “42nd Street” at Tempe Center for the Arts.

Gracie Gentile, a 2017 Valley Christian graduate, will perform in the ensemble of Scottsdale Musical Theater Company’s classic musical July 6-15.

Gentile just finished her first year at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she is studying musical theater.

While in high school in her hometown of Chandler, the bubbly actress, dancer and singer performed at Valley Christian in Chandler, as well as at Limelight Performing Arts in Gilbert, Mesa Community College, Actor’s Youth Theatre in Gilbert and a Glendale church.

She is excited about performing with Scottsdale Musical Theater Company, which brings Broadway favorite musicals to the stage.

Charles Shaughnessy, who had been on TV’s “The Nanny,” as well as “Days of Our Lives” and Broadway’s “Urinetown,” will play director Julian Marsh in “42nd Street.”

Debby Boone, a Grammy-winning recording artist who had been on Broadway’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” will play diva Dorothy Brock. Gentile’s idol, Eloise Kropp, a young Broadway starlet who has performed in “Dames at Sea,” “Cats” and “On the Town,” will play Anytime Annie in “42nd Street.” Kropp is also doing the show’s tap choreography.

“It’s been so fun,” Gentile said of performing in “42nd Street.”

“It’s also been extremely challenging at the same time. It has helped me grow a lot as a dancer. I still have to process it myself. The one who’s on Broadway, Eloise Kropp, she’s the one that I know the most out of the three (stars).

“I got to see her when she did ‘Cats’ two years ago. She’s one of my most favorite live performers because she’s an incredible dancer. She’s so present and humble. This is going to be an experience I’m never going to forget.”

“42nd Street” tells the story of Peggy Sawyer, who comes to New York City to steal the spotlight; her journey to stardom comes with life lessons and growth. The musical features well-known songs “We’re in the Money” and “I Only Have Eyes for You.”

Gentile said she likes that “42nd Street” is a “dance-heavy show” and she is polishing her tap-dancing skills.

“Everybody has been so kind and so welcoming and everyone is extremely talented,” she said. “It blew my mind the first couple weeks. It’s been so cool to just learn from everybody and work with them and just be able to see it and see how it’s challenged me as a dancer.”

Gentile said she loves the “iconic costumes and the music of the ’30s” in the musical, too.

“I love it, especially how the storyline of the girl has this big dream of being on Broadway and she comes in and (is) so persistent,” she said.

Gentile said it is nice to be home after finishing her first year of college.

“I love living on the East Coast,” she said. “It was something I hoped would happen. It’s something I’m very, very grateful for. It’s close to New York. It has the hustle-bustle city lifestyle. I have made a lot of friends. Everyone is so nice and so friendly and so talented.”

While living in Chandler, Gentile took vocal lessons from Marianne Heim, Valley Christian fine arts director and director of chorale studies, starting when she was 12 years old until she graduated high school. She also performed in two choirs at Valley Christian.

Gentile started seriously pursuing theater her freshman year at Valley Christian, where she performed in “The Worst High School Play in the World.”

She started taking ballet, jazz and tap classes at Studio 3 Performing Arts Academy, the studio where Limelight Performing Arts, a nonprofit youth theater, holds its rehearsals and performances.

Gentile also studied at another local dance studio and took private acting lessons. She performed as Gingy the gingerbread man in “Shrek the Musical” at Limelight Performing Arts her junior year of high school.

She performed in the ensembles in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Legally Blonde” at Mesa Community College.

Gentile later performed as the star of “Anne of Green Gables” at Actor’s Youth Theater in Gilbert. Later, she switched gears to a more intense show when she was part of the ensemble in “Bonnie & Clyde” at Actor’s Youth Theater.

Last summer, Gentile performed as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” at Dream City Church in Glendale.  

“That was very special because that was a dream role for me for a long time,” Gentile said.

In her freshman year in college, she performed in “Parade,” a musical about the 1913 trial of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank, who was accused and convicted of raping and murdering a 13-year-old employee, Mary Phagan. 

“That was just so emotionally challenging, but it was so beautiful to put that on at my school,” Gentile said.

Heim said she expects Gentile to keep doing great things in theater.

“She always goes 110 percent,” Heim said. “She goes all in and them some. There’s just a wow factor about her. She will work harder than anyone else in the room. She has a beautiful voice; wonderful stage presence; she’s a very dependable ensemble member. She’s an absolute joy to teach. She’s well-liked by everyone who meets her.”

She said Gentile also was instrumental in getting two Valley Christian choirs to perform at Carnegie Hall at New York City and Disneyland.

“She was always bringing an idea to me, any invitation; always quick to say, ‘We should do it and I’m gonna rally everybody and get it done,’” Heim said. “I feel like I’m just waiting; like watch out world; here she comes.”

“42nd Street” will be performed July 6-15 at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. Information: scottsdalemusicaltheater.com.

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