Monday, October 8, 2012

Elise Garrett: A Sixteen Year Old's View of The Theater, Past, Present, and Future!

Sing like nobody’s listening, dance like nobody’s watching, and act like nobody’s business. (Elise Garrett's favorite quote and personal philosophy)

Here she is, World... 

Those of you who follow my blogs know that I’m writing a book celebrating Fifty years of Hello, Dolly! Those of you are discovering me for the first time; I hope you’ll join me on this journey of celebrating the arts and those that contribute to the arts.

A few weeks ago, my agent asked her interns about three of the subjects of my book in order to hopefully get a grasp of who my demographic MIGHT be. Those subjects happen to be Carol Channing, Ethel Merman, and Barbra Streisand. My agent’s interns, all in their twenties, had no idea who any of them are!
How terrible that entire generations are now coming along who only are exposed to a very specific type of entertainment rather than a wide spectrum. I posted the comment as it was relayed to me on Facebook to see what kind of response I would get.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people who responded, over 125. Every demographic was represented.  There was an exuberance of love and shock in the responses. I felt that I had finally found a good and loving support through Facebook. Most theatre people have felt the same way that I feel about the arts.
 One Facebook friend suggested that I interview his sixteen year old daughter to get her perspective on the theater. I thought what a brilliant idea. We need to listen to our next generation. I asked for what questions YOU would ask her on Facebook. This blog is the result of both your questions and her responses. Today, I’m celebrating Elise Garrett. I hope you will be as impressed with her as I am.

Elise Garrett is a junior at a school of the arts in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a vocal major and a drama minor. She has considered herself a “Broadway geek” since middle school. Her dream is to be in the Tisch Program at NYU for a BFA in musical theater. She would like to pursue musical theater as a career.

Elise has something I never had, family support! Elise’s parents are very supportive. They pay for her vocal lessons. They drive her to her vocal lessons and dance classes.

She feels really blessed that her parents are willing to support her in pursuit of her dream. She acknowledges that there is no guarantee that she will be successful in this field. The fact that they are putting their extra time and money on the line for her to do this is really amazing according to Elise. She is lucky to have parents who have a love for the theater and affords Elise the opportunity to see LIVE theater from time to time. Some of her classes at school requires that she go see live shows twice a semester and critique them. 

Elise is willing to work really hard and to do something every day in that pursuit.

When it comes to reaching her generation, Elise feels that some writers are better than others. This last summer, Elise got to go to New York with her father. They saw the last performance of Godspell on Broadway. At the end, director Daniel Goldstein came out and explained to the audience how they basically rewrote the show daily by going in with the daily papers and incorporating what was topical into the show. Elise LOVED this version. It was wonderful and fantastic and Elise cried the entire second act. She has seen productions of Godspell before where they basically copied what had already been done. She never felt a connection to that show before. The way this production connected ideas with what is currently going on in the world and what she is used to and what she can connect to really made her feel something for that show. She was crying at the end as she was leaving the theater because it was so fantastic. Elise feels that other shows and writers, she hates to say, are copping out.
They are rewriting other people’s material whether they are from a book or a movie that has been written or produced previously. They are trying to connect in that way. Elise would love to see new material written straight for new actors from new writers.

Since she started in theater, Elise’s favorite aspect she gets from the theater is the energy she gets stepping out on the stage, there is this magic in performing where there is no other place to be. Being there in the moment is beautiful. Watching live theater is also amazing to Elise because she gets to see someone taking their entire life and presenting it to us, the audience, through, she can’t even describe it, it is so magical the way that major ideas and thoughts and feelings are brought forth through theater.

Elise desires to go through the emotional journey of a character and want for them all the success and happiness they can give.

One of the first movies that Elise remembers ever seeing was Mary Poppins. She also fell in love with Julie Andrews at that time. As a result of Mary Poppins, Elise started seeking out other Julie Andrews films.
Elise also started to find out about Andrews’ Broadway career which subsequently led into her discovery of Broadway. It has opened all sorts of doors for her. Elise also feels much more accepted when she is with theater kids. She associates much of her happiness with her love of theater.

The entertainer that Elise most admires is Barbra Streisand. Her voice is gorgeous. She is able to act while she is singing so it doesn’t sound like she is randomly singing. Her singing continues the story and brings the emotion of the songs into a new perspective. You can tell she loves what she’s doing.

Elise loves Tommy Tune, who I interviewed on Friday. Tommy told me that while being in a rehearsal studio with Barbara and watching her sing with just a piano, he actually saw a rainbow coming from her voice; “she has the voice of God”.

I asked Elise if she wanted to be an actress or a star. She said, “Who doesn’t want to be a star? However, if I could be an actress, it would be amazing.”

Elise has been taking vocal lesson since she was eight. She has also sung in a choir. This interview was conducted at three PM on Saturday afternoon. I asked her what work she had done that day on her craft.
She sings show tunes every morning. She is currently seeking pieces for college pieces. She had already spent part of Saturday perusing the books that she has. She also is looking for monologues for upcoming auditions.
When Elise was in the ninth grade, she was in a production of The Laramie Project. (Incidentally, it was fourteen years ago today, as I write this blog, that Matthew Shepard was attacked on the night of October 6–7, and died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12 from severe head injuries.)
The Laramie Project was the first time that Elise had done any work outside of musical theater. It proved to her that she could do what she desires to do.

I asked Elise if she could live without being in show business. She said no. There’s your answer!

 "What would you change about the industry?"
 I wouldn't change anything about the industry because it has been running for so long that it's sort of perfected all of its facets.  The producers, talent, creative, and the union have learned to work together to quickly create a high quality show.  If I could change anything affecting the Industry, I would work with the travel companies to reduce the cost of coming to New York to see a Broadway musical.  What's keeping the average American family from going to New York City to see a show is the cost of travel.  If the producers could offer complete packages with travel on their websites, they could use their volume to negotiate better travel deals for their patrons.  This would allow more families to enjoy the magic of a Broadway show.

Elise is willing to work hard to make her dream a reality.

It’s a different world from the world I entered at sixteen. I asked what was currently happening for her in her pursuit. She just auditioned for an upcoming dance concert for her school. She is awaiting the results of that. I hope she gets it and I hope that all of my Atlanta readers and followers will be there to cheer them on. I asked what she would do to get an audience into that theater. Elise says advertising is important. It takes different factors to get an audience in. There are different audiences based on what they desire to see.

The great thing for Elise about LIVE theater as opposed to sitting at home watching a television show is that it can be different every night.

The first Broadway show that Elise saw was La Cage Aux Folles. She loved that show and thought it was really funny. She loved Fred Applegate, who surprised her. She didn’t expect him to be as funny as he was. She didn’t really think of him playing two roles: ultra-conservative Edouard Dindon and cafe owner M. Renaud. He was able to pull off both characters so well and was amazing.

The role that Elise would LOVE to play right now is Winifred in Once Upon A Mattress. It made a star of Carol Burnett. Perhaps it would do the same for Elise.
If that opportunity presents itself, she’s ready. She practices a lot and she KNOWS the show! She asks a lot of questions when she gets cast from her directors. She is also studying what works best for her. She is still exploring. She is also experimenting with different acting techniques to see which one will be the best fit.

 The ONE show that she wishes she had seen LIVE in the theater is the ORIGINAL Gypsy! Why? “Ethel Merman’s voice revolutionized Broadway.” This voice came out of nowhere. Nowadays, people are being taught a strict way to sing in theater and that’s the way it is going to be. This bright clear voice just cut through air straight to you and crystallized who she was as an entertainer. Ethel Merman revolutionized Broadway. So did Carol Channing, Barbra Streisand, and Bernadette Peters. 

Elise’s fondest memory in the theater involves a show that she was not part of. One of her best friends in school was starring as Marian, The Librarian, in The Music Man. They were doing the footbridge scene. One of the techies had forgotten to lock the wheels on the footbridge. “Marian” is standing on the footbridge singing Till There Was You. She’s hitting the high note at the end and the bridge starts to tip over into the orchestra pit. It was the scariest moment of Elise’s life seeing her best friend’s demise happening right in front of her. She held that note going down and Elise loves her for it! Thank God, this was a rehearsal!

She loves learning about new entertainers and I’ve loved learning about Elise Garrett! Remember that name, she means business!

Thank you Elise Garrett for the gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating my forthcoming book on Hello, Dolly!

I desire this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  
If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!

Do you have any pics?

If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
My next blog will be... My Exclusive interview with Michele Lee (Dolly Levi, Hello, Dolly: Three-city tour of Hello Dolly in 2005. )

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

I'm celebrating Pamela Luss on Saturday, October 20th, 2012 at 7:00 pm
Pamela with Houston Person at The Metropolitan Room in NYC
Just The Two Of Us and Friends
Hope you can make it. It’s going to be a party!
Reserve today if that date is available! Call me if any questions!
 Richard Skipper 845-365-0720


Richard Skipper,                            

This Blog is dedicated to ALL THE DOLLYS and ANYONE who has EVER had a connection with ANY of them on ANY Level!


  1. Thanks for interviewing the talent of the future. It is good to read about someone who loves the history and everything about Broadway!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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