|Aleque Reid '05 talks with students in the classroom of Fine Arts Department Chair Midge Karam '79.|
It’s a long way from the small stage of the Knight Fine Arts Center to the main stage of the touring production of Hair, but Aleque Reid ’05 made the trip look easy.
Reid spent six months in the role of Jeanie as the tour crisscrossed the country before staging the play’s final performances in Cleveland at Playhouse Square. While in Cleveland, she found time to visit WRA to talk with students about her theater career.
“It is exhausting (being on the road) but so rewarding,” Reid said during an interview in Hayden Hall. “We’ve seen so many different things and, in each city, we try to do something unique or local to that city. It has been amazing to try new things and see places that I’ve never seen.”
Reid joined the cast of Hair after the departure of actress Kacie Sheik, who originated the role of Jeanie in 2007 in a concert presentation and continued in the role on Broadway, in London and on tour. Taking over for someone so strongly associated with the performance was a challenge that Reid embraced.
“This was a very unique situation as I took over for someone who had been in the role for four years,” Reid said. “It really was a struggle for me. I joined a show with older people who had more experience than me and it was stressful at first.
“But I am a unique bird and I worked to make the role mine own. I think that is important as an artist – I feel like my heart and soul are not in it if I don’t make it my own.”
While playing a role in a national touring production would seem like a rapid rise for someone who graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts just three years ago, Reid has worked hard to stay busy. After graduating from the school in Winston-Salem, N.C., she performed in a few shows in New York City, took a break for a year and then landed a role in New York City’s Shakespeare in the Park Ensemble. She has also appeared in the New York Fringe Festival’s production of Camp Wanatachi; in a Sonnet Rep production of I like you, you’re hot; and in the No Rules Theatre production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
“I was really close to the director and casting director of Hair after working with them in the Shakespeare in the Park group,” Reid said. “They asked me to come in and audition for the role of Jeanie, I met with the director and the writer and, after five callbacks, I got the role.”
When Reid first entered WRA as a sophomore she planned on being a competitive swimmer. But the lure of the stage became too strong for her to resist.
“Since I was little I knew acting was what I wanted to do, but I hadn’t done anything in the arts until I came to WRA,” she said. “They had just finished casting Les Miserables and Midge (Karam ’79) and Donalee (Ong) let me help with the costumes. I loved every aspect of performing, from the work to the reward. I had always been in love with it, but here I was able to become a part of it.”
Now that her time in Hair has come to an end, Reid said she planned to take some time off and then get back to work.
“I have an insane amount of faith – I’ve been through so much in my life that I’m confident something will come up,” she said. “What is important to me is to create my own environment so that I am always doing what I love – be it on Broadway, TV or film.”
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