Many young performers starting out have dreams of success on the Broadway stage, but the odds of achieving fame there are likely harder than winning a million dollars in the lottery.
One young Murfreesboro girl, attending a performance at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville with her parents, swore to herself through tears that one day she would not only make it to Broadway, but also one day she would be a lead performer in a TPAC musical.
On April 30, Analisa Leaming’s dreams will come true as she co-stars in the musical “Hello, Dolly!” as Irene Molloy. Leaming left her co-starring role of the high school principal in the musical “School of Rock” on Broadway to join the year-long national tour of “Hello, Dolly!”.
In the play, set in the 1900s, famed matchmaker Dolly Levi, played by Betty Buckley, sets up a wealthy widower, Horace Vandergelder, with a lovely young hat store owner, Irene Molloy. However, Dolly decides that she wants Horace for herself, so, she then has to change Horace’s mind and help Irene fall for Cornelius.
Leaming’s mother, Tammy Day, said, “I always knew it would happen. I remember, when she was only 4 years old, we took her camping. One evening, much to the enjoyment of her fellow campers, Analisa climbed up on a picnic table with her hairbrush as a mic and started to sing. Even then, she had the incredible magical spark of an entertainer, and a beautiful vocal talent.”
Leaming studied voice and won the fifth grade talent show singing “Annie”. She sang in junior high programs and then found herself at Riverdale High School as a student of music teacher Brian Russell. He now teaches at Stewarts Creek High School, but he says he also quickly recognized Leaming’s talent.
“I taught Analisa when she was a senior member of the Riverdale High School Singers,” Russell said. “I knew immediately that her wonderful talent, grace, and work ethic would take her far.”
Leaming participated in the Governors School for performing arts summer program, studied voice in Nashville and began taking classes at the University of Memphis. However, she realized she needed more advanced musical studies so she transferred to the renown Eastman Conservatory of Music in New York.
After graduating from there, she performed in concerts, did regional theater all over the country, joined the cast of some off-Broadway plays and finally got the chance to be an understudy for Broadway shows.
As an understudy she performed with Bette Midler in “Cats” and with Kristin Chenoweth in “On the 20th Century”. She was the understudy for Kelli O’Hair for “The King and I” at the Lincoln Center and performed many times on stage in that production.
Leaming’s real Broadway break came with the campy musical “School of Rock” co-starring as the lovesick school principal, Rosalie Mullins. After a year on Broadway, she was asked to perform in the national tour of “Hello, Dolly!”, with longtime Broadway star Buckley.
After discussing the opportunity with her husband, Joseph Glaser, they decided that Leaming would leave the “School of Rock” cast to join “Hello, Dolly!” Instead of flying with the cast around the country, they decided to drive to see the county and to have a car in each city they visited, especially Nashville.
Leaming has not forgotten Murfreesboro either.
Two years ago, after an invitation from Russell, she volunteered to perform at a concert to benefit the ethos youth ensemble, of which Russell is the executive director. She was accompanied on stage by the ethos Philharmonic youth orchestra, with Russell on the piano.
“I can’t wait until we play Nashville,” Leaming said during a tour stop in Denver last week. “It will be truly a wonderful coming home and a dream come true.”
When: April 30 – May 5
Where: Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Jackson Hall, 505 Deaderick St., Nashville
Tickets: TPAC.org 615-782-4040