Winnipeg native is a Broadway Jet
April 20, 2012 | Shlomo Kapustin - Correspondent
TORONTO – Alexandra Frohlinger is so new to big-lights entertainment, she still enjoys the media obligations.
The 23-year-old Winnipeg native hopped from school at the Boston Conservatory to the first national tour of the Broadway revival of West Side Story in the space of a few days in 2010 – and hasn’t looked back.
Now the production arrives in Toronto, beginning May 8, the latest installment of her career whirlwind.
“I live where my suitcase is,” said Frohlinger with a laugh.
The petite brunette plays Anybodys, the tomboy who wants to be a Jet, in the classic show from multiple award-winners Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, Jews all, as was Jerome Robbins, who conceived, choreographed and directed the show. In fact, West Side Story, which tackles ethnic tensions between Puerto Ricans and whites in New York City, was called East Side Story while being developed, and focusing on Jewish-Catholic discord.
Her Anybodys is unique, though.
“It’s the first Anybodys in the history of the show that sings the Somewhere ballad in the ballet in Act 2.”
It only makes sense, she said, for Anybodys, the girl who longs for a gang, to perform the song about belonging.
The actress, singer and dancer brings her life experience to the part.
“We all have times when we don’t completely fit in,” she said. “You have to draw from those times.”
The grind of musical theatre can challenge the most experienced of performers, and Frohlinger’s schedule also includes classes and an amped-up workout schedule.
“You have to take really good care of your body,” she said. “You have to check in with yourself…. I’m learning that it’s okay to say, ‘I’m sick today,’” adding that she has only missed five of more than 500 shows.
But she is loving every minute of the ride.
“It doesn’t feel like work. It just feels like I’m living my dream.”
While Frohlinger is a relative newcomer to prime time, her life experience oozes entertainment.
Her parents enrolled her in dance classes at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, where she fell in love with all forms of dance – and especially musical theatre. By seven, she was hooked, and the graduate of the Gray Academy of Jewish Education high school said her first “small break” in musical theatre came at Winnipeg’s Jewish community centre in Oliver!
In 2007, she reached the top 10 on the CBC’s Triple Sensation, a reality television show that pitted young performers against each other and provided intensive tutoring by industry heavyweights.
Even Anybodys is no stranger to Frohlinger: she performed the role while in Boston.
Frohlinger’s big break may be West Side Story, but despite her optimism, she’s too savvy to take that tack.
“That’s only clear in retrospect,” she said.
Frohlinger is open to whatever the future may summon: theatre, television, movies, dancing, singing, acting: she’s “excited for whatever comes next” – even the interviews.