by Lorie Lewis Ham
Here at KRL we like to point the spotlight on some of the incredible talent we have in the Valley. One way is by profiling local theatre actors and directors. This month we are profiling one of the younger actors shining on Fresno stages, Sarah Waxman, whom you may have seen this summer in A Chorus Line.
Sarah began acting at the young age of six when her mother enrolled her in an educational theatre program at Cal Arts Academy in Fresno. Her first lead role was that of Kate in Annie the very next year. From then on, she was hooked. “I did theatre from age six through Jr. High. I took my freshman year off to try to do stuff at school and focus on school more, but hated not doing theatre so I started again the end of my freshman year.”
Through the years, Sarah’s relationship with Cal Arts has also continued, not only performing in shows there like Thoroughly Modern Millie, Rent the School Edition, Into The Woods, and Grease, but she currently teaches musical theatre there as well.
Sarah’s most recent role was in Children’s Musical Theaterworks production of A Chorus Line this summer where she played Cassie. “I would have to say that Sarah has been a dream to work with,” shared Shannah Estep, who was vocal coach for A Chorus Line. “She is dedicated, she brings everything she has to a character….large or small. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more proud moment as a production team member than watching her bring Cassie to life on stage.”
Dancing roles seem to have become a strong suit for Sarah. She played Lucy in CMT’s production of Jekyll & Hyde in 2012. “Sarah played one of the lead roles as well as serving as the dance captain,” said Brent Moser, who directed Jekyll & Hyde. “She even helped choreograph very important segments of the show. She has the ‘it’ factor. What I mean is her talent and her passion match her drive. I expect her to do very well in anything she pursues.”
Seeing her dance on stage now, it’s hard to believe that just over a year ago Sarah was not all that confident in her dancing and would have said that dancing was the hardest thing for her in theatre. “I didn’t start dancing until six-ish years ago, and up until the last year, dancing stressed me out the most. But having now been through a few professional dance calls, and of course, Chorus Line, it doesn’t stress me out as much.”
Sarah’s favorite shows are musicals, and she is a big fan of dark comedies. However, light and fluffy shows with tap dancing like Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes, are also favorites of hers. One of Sarah’s dream roles is that of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. “I’m really drawn to character roles or villains instead of ingénues.”
What she feels has helped her grow the most as a performer is simply experience. “My mentor and one of my best friends, Daniel Chavez Jr., has always said ‘practice makes better.’ I’ve also been very lucky in the people that I have gotten to work with. I’ve never had an acting partner that wasn’t committed to the project and I’ve never had a director who wasn’t willing to help me.
“Daniel’s taught me a lot technique wise as far as strengthening skills vocally and I credit him entirely with my dance ability. Working with Brent as a director and Dillon Morgan as an acting partner, strengthened my analyzing abilities and really delving into the character, and in discovering the character, discovering pieces of yourself. I feel like I’ve grown as an actor as I’ve grown as a person. Performing has never not been part of my life so I’m not sure where to even differentiate the two.”
As to what she likes best about performing, Sarah stated that it is really a magical release for her. “I feel it most when dancing, but it’s like a therapy. To be able to come into the theatre or the studio and leave everything on the dance floor, whether I’m alone or in performance, there’s no greater feeling for me. I love the work. I love the process. The work, as hard as it sometimes is, is always worth it.”“Sarah is so wonderful to work with,” shared local actor Bryce Moser. “I know when we did Jekyll and Hyde and Rocky Horror together, not only was she talented but she encourages her fellow actors so much!”
“Sarah is a wonderful performer, always someone you watch on stage,” stated Terry Lewis, another local actor who will be working with Sarah in The Rocky Horror Show next month. “I’ve had the opportunity to watch her as an audience member many times, but I have also had the great pleasure of working with her. She is such fun to work with, very giving and helpful to her fellow actors – and she’s one hell of a dance partner!”
For others wanting to pursue theatre, Sarah says just do it and always give 100%. “Don’t worry about being embarrassed or looking stupid. Go full out from day one at auditions. Just throw yourself into the work and have fun.”
When not dancing, acting and singing, Sarah loves to run off to Disneyland. However, soon that won’t be so easy. She hopes to be moving to New York in the near future to pursue her career and finish school. In the meantime, you can see Sarah on stage once again in The Rocky Horror Show opening the end of October. This time she will be playing Columbia. So catch this rising star before she leaves Fresno for the great white way.
“I think she will light up stages the world over,” shared Fresno actress Gabriella Lawson, who also worked with Sarah in Rocky Horror Show last year. “Fresno should feel very proud to turn out talent like her.”
Check out more local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section & watch for a review & ticket giveaway for The Rocky Horror Show.