As a busy mom, I often bemoan the burden of multi-tasking. I cry and whine about how I never get enough recognition for the fact that I do six jobs at once, every day, and don't get paid for most of them. Then I met Francesca McGrory, and I knew I'd met my multi-tasking match.
Francesca McGrory never thought she'd be starring in one of the biggest shows to hit the New York family theatre scene in years. She also didn't think she'd be simultaneously heading up the production's outreach marketing or sharing the job of company manager. But come on, who could possibly do all those things at once? (Besides a mom!) True to her character's persona, the actress who brings "Freckleface Strawberry" to life every weekend in FRECKLEFACE THE MUSICAL also has no less than THREE jobs at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, and she handles them all like a pro.
Growing up in Toronto, red-haired Francesca McGrory didn't plan on working in show business. She enrolled in a prestigious Canadian girl's high school for mathematics and computers and planed on accepting a scholarship to Queens University to study finite math. Whatever that is.
It was towards the end of her high school years that Francesca started to get the bug. She boldly walked into her guidance counselor's office and announced her desire to defer the college scholarship for a year so that she could go to New York and audition for acting schools.
"He was like, 'I'm sorry, WHAT?'" says Francesca. "I was really discouraged by my teachers."
But it wasn't enough to deter the freckle-faced dreamer, and Francesca skipped out on class to travel to New York for her Julliard audition. Having never been to New York before, she got lost and somehow ended up at AMDA (The American Musical and Dramatic Academy) on 61st street, asking for directions.
They did, and the next weekend Francesca returned to New York to audition. She was so close to the deadline that she had to hand in her applications in person. She was accepted on the spot with a partial scholarship. "I literally walked in and asked what the place was and I was like, 'Do you have an international program for musical theatre majors?'"
Although ecstatic, Francesca assumed she'd return to Queens University for math….sorry, Finite Mathematics.
"I just never did. I auditioned during the day and did AMDA classes at night, and I booked my first show at St. Lukes Theatre."
It was a children's show called "The Tortoise and the Hair's Holiday Hoopla". Francesca played a princess, a ballerina, a cat and a fairy. For money. Take that, Julliard.
"I had this gigantic costume and I would chaine on stage on point, do a monologue, chaine back."
Not bad for a math major.
After the show closed, Francesca started working as part of the Chicago "Dance Mob", a team of costumed dancers who performed in the middle of Times Square while handing out flyers to promote Chicago on Broadway.
"It was really fun," she says of the experience, "….until it wasn't fun any more."
She got "flyering" jobs for other shows too, and even handed out a few for the original production of Freckleface Strawberry that played New World Stages. Of course she didn't realize back then that the red-headed freckleface on that flyer would one day be her. Or that she'd be the company manager. Or doing their marketing….
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Erin Leigh Peck is a New York based actor, writer and mother. She has performed on and off Broadway, in regional theatre and on tour, in films and on television. She most recently appeared Off-Broadway in The Toxic Avenger Musical and can often be seen on television in various commercials. Erin's play Mother of Mine is a contemporary 'dramedy' about pregnancy, parenthood and postpartum. She is the proud and busy mother of two extremely awesome kids. Please visit her web site, www.ErinLeighPeck.com. |
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