Like many theater enthusiasts, Gracie Bryant took a trip to New York to check out stage productions in a city famous for its Broadway shows. But Bryant also is performing in a show herself, and her family is along for the ride.
The 13-year-old Huntersville resident is cast in the “Tuck Everlasting” production at White Plains Performing Arts Center, just north of New York City, through Aug. 11. She is the understudy to the main character Winnie Foster and part of the ensemble in the play, which explores “eternal love, never-ending life and what it means to truly feel alive.”
Gracie, who went to J.V. Washam Elementary Schools before heading to Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte for middle school, describes understudying the lead role as “a lot of following her around.”
Gracie has taken Broadway master classes and had sent audition tapes for Broadway shows with little confidence of being selected – her mom calls it “submit and forget.” But for “Tuck,” a show at a professional regional theater, she got a call back.
“She does tracking of the lead roles, all the songs,” Gracie’s mother, Jennifer Bryant, said. “If the girl has to go off stage in one direction, she has to know that. It’s a lot of behind the scenes work.”
The Bryants are renting a home in nearby Scarsdale for the show’s run, and are in a familiar place because extended family members live in Westchester County. The majority of the “Tuck” cast lives in New York City, but the theater is just a few miles away from their interim home.
“A lot of other people in the production have to take the train all the way up here, but I just ride in the car,” Gracie said, later providing an exaggerated accent for the state she’s performing in. “It’s been cool to pretend to be New ‘Yuawkahs,’ living like we’re locals.”
Gracie attended acting classes through Davidson Community Players, eventually getting roles in the Connie Company’s youth productions. In 2017, she was cast as the title character in the main stage production of “Annie,” performed in Davidson College’s Duke Family Performance Hall.
“Everything I’ve learned in those classes is what’s gotten me here,” Gracie said of DCP. “(Instructor) Mindy Hudson, she continues to be part of my career. She taught us all the basics. Going into a professional show, they don’t teach the basics. If you don’t know the basics, then you can’t do (anything else.)”
Gracie is also active in the Children’s Theater of Charlotte. Despite her high-end experience, a recent performance closer to home was a little out of her comfort zone.
Gracie was selected to perform at the future Cain Center for the Arts founders ball in May at The Peninsula Club.
“I had to get a big, fancy ball gown and get my hair up,” she said. “I had to sing a song in front of fancy people in fancy suits and dresses.”
Gracie and her mother are excited about the kind of opportunities the Cornelius center will bring locally.
“A lot of what she does now is go to Charlotte because that’s the draw,” Jennifer Bryant said. “Once the Cain center is available, it’s going to level-up the arts scene here.”