Just waiting for her ‘moments’
By Gary Smith
The Hamilton Spectator (Aug 8, 2012)
Hamilton actress-singer Stephanie Lawlor is talking about playing headstrong Florence in Stage West’s Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
Growing up on St. Clair Boulevard, 25-year-old Lawlor admits she was a pretty shy kid.
“The strange thing, even though I was shy with people, I always knew in my head I’d be an actress. I was taken by my parents to see everything, all the big musicals in Toronto and shows at Stratford and Shaw. I loved it.
“Then at Cathedral High School, I came out of my shell a little.”
Lawlor took herself to Theatre Aquarius Performing Arts Summer School.
“I don’t know why. I just did. It was just the right moment for me. I was in my late teens and somehow I knew it was now or never. I had professional teachers, people who were in the business. I didn’t really know how good they were at the time.”
For the summer school, Lawlor played an ensemble part in Into The Woods and then Peron’s Mistress in Evita.
“I was too young really to have experienced life. I just did what I was told. Then I did Frenchie in Grease. Now, her, I could understand. I was closer to her age.”
Lawlor didn’t think of going the professional stage route, at least not right away.
“I took six months to think and worked in retail. Then it happened. I decided I had to at least try to be part of the theatre.”
Lawlor went to the Randolph Academy in Toronto and worked in the triple threat program, determined to sing, dance and act.
“I graduated in 2010 and started hunting for work. It wasn’t easy.”
She did a part in Angelina Ballerina, a show for kids. There were other things too, including a workshop or two. Then the big break came.
“I couldn’t believe I was cast in this Stage West show. I mean I’m not a pop singer and these are all popular songs from the ’60s. I didn’t live then.”
David Connolly, the show’s director, had worked with Lawlor at the Randolph School. He knew she had the right stuff.
“It’s hard to get that first big break,” she says. “No one wants to take a chance on you when you’re an unknown quantity.”
Working at Stage West is a new experience for Lawlor. The audience is so close you can hear them breathe or rustle the napkins.
“You can feel their energy.” Lawlor thinks she’s probably naive, but she says she wants it all.
“I’m working and I’m gonna’ keep right on,” she laughs.
“When I’m working I forget about the disappointments, the auditions that didn’t work out, the close calls. You soon learn this business isn’t about rejection. You learn someone else has been chosen, that’s all. It just wasn’t your moment.”
“My big ambition is to be at Shaw, or Stratford someday soon. As a Canadian, those theatres are the apex.”
Lawlor shakes her mane of hair and smiles.
“You know, I realize I might come off as brash, a little bit bold, but I’m not. That’s just my nerves taking over. The stage forces me to be someone else, someone who’s not painfully shy.”
Gary Smith has written on theatre and dance for The Hamilton Spectator for more than 30 years. Visit - The Buzz Board