One of the most challenging, rewarding, fun and exhilarating experiences thus far in a variety of memorable experiences I’ve been blessed to be a part of. This show, cast and crew made it so much fun and got me through any anxiety and insecurities I had taking on the iconic role of Betty ‘Rizzo’ – and the first black woman or woman of color to play her. The toughest part was being away from my daughter and son at the time who were both school age causing me to exit the play after 3 months, both Arie and Lauren were brought out to see me and spend break time and once they returned home, it was just too hard for me to be without them. I’ve always felt bad as if I let everyone who believed in me down especially ..but my children have always come first. Since that time I did audition for a few other shows including Aida and The Color Purple (Shug Avery).
Trying to learn the hand jive and prom dance sequence almost caused me to drop out of Grease! ..I’ve never been good at learning choreography. Rewinding back I can still recall weeping in a dance rehearsal at the thought of not being able to do the role after working with acting coach and working so hard to nail the dialogue and nuance of Betty Rizzo. The choreographer and director never gave up on me. On opening night once I made it through that scene – I was good to go. Ask me to do hand jive or any of the choreography now..it’s a blank but when it was time, totally living in that moment. Life.
The role of ‘Teen Angel” while I was in the show initially was Chubby Checker (I first met him as a teen Soul Train dancer on the Jerry Lewis Tele-thon when they wanted to place dancers behind him for the show -funny story I’ll save for my memoir but one of those – you never know how your paths can cross with people down the line, so be kind. I never mentioned to him that we’d crossed paths way back when..) and then jazz great Al Jarreau who was the first person to tell me about zinc lozenges when I thought I might be coming down with a bit of a cold and hoarseness. Blessings.