This Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 4 PM, Young Artists of America and Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras will present West Side Story + Roméo et Juliette at The Music Center at Strathmore. In Part 2 of 3 interviews, meet Hailey Giddings.
Introduce yourself and tell our readers about where they may have seen you perform in the DC area.
My name is Hailey Giddings, and I’ve played Fantine in Les Miserables and Maria in West Side Story at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Maryland.
What type of vocal training have you recieved to prepare you for this performance?
I’ve been studying voice for three years, and along with my regular voice lessons, I’m being coached by the staff and mentors at YAA in order to prepare for this performance.
Why did you want to be part of this performance?
I love YAA. I participated in YAA’s summer institute, which I really enjoyed. I’ve also seen some of YAA’s other productions. Their productions are amazing, and I really wanted to be a part of this performance.
Which role are you singing and tell us about your character and how you relate to her? Have you ever played this role before, and if you have, how is this production and your performance different or the same?
I’m playing Maria, and I think I can relate to her in the sense that she’s someone who is growing up. We’re about the same age and like all kids growing up, she’s trying to be independent and strong. I think I can also relate to her in the sense that she’s really passionate about the things she does. I’ve played this role before at Good Counsel, and it was very different from this production. At GC, we did the whole show whereas at YAA we are focusing primarily on the music and dancing, and it is combined with Roméo et Juliette. Also, at GC we had a very small orchestra, but at YAA we are performing with MCYO’s fantastic 90-piece Philharmonic orchestra.
Tell me about the songs you are singing and what we learn about your character when you are singing your songs.
Maria’s songs include “Tonight,” “One Hand One Heart,” “I Feel Pretty,” and “A Boy like That.” The songs prove that Maria is a truly passionate character. She’s head over heels in love, yet she’s extremely strong and is able to stand up for herself and her love.
Take us into your auditon. What did you perform and how long after your audition did you find out that you had the role?
For my audition, I sang “Tonight” from West Side Story, and I found out that I got the part about a week later.
How would you describe Leonard Bernstein’s score and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics forWest Side Story?
It’s really beautiful. It’s genius. The music is so amazing and the lyrics tell the story perfectly.
What is your favorite song that you are not singing?
It’s so hard to choose! I really love all of the songs. I think my favorite that I’m not singing is “Nuit d’hymenee” from Roméo et Juliette.
What is your favorite lyric or lyrics from any song from the show and why?
I love the last part of “A Boy like That” where Maria and Anita say, “When love comes so strong there is no right or wrong,” because when there really is love that strong it overcomes everything.
How long has the rehearsal process lasted? Take us into your rehearsals. How many will you have had before Sunday’s performance?
We’ve been in rehearsal since the end of December. We’ve had rehearsal twice a week except for these last two weeks before the show where we’ve had rehearsal almost every day. We will have had about 25 rehearsals by Sunday’s performance, minus some snow days of course!
What have you learned about yourself the singer during these rehearsals?
I definitely feel like I’ve grown so much as a singer from these rehearsals, but of course there is always more room to grow. I think this entire experience has really helped me recognize what I’m capable of achieving as a singer.
What have you learned during your time at YAA that has made you a better singer and actor?
I’ve learned so much from both the staff and my peers at YAA. I’ve learned so much from the staff and mentors from vocal to acting techniques. There’s really something to learn from everyone, and I’m so grateful for everything that everyone has taught me.
What does West Side Story have to say to your generation? What themes and lessons are still relevant today?
In West Side Story there is a lot of racial tension. The show teaches that we need to overcome racial prejudices and stereotypes which still exist in this generation. I want everyone to be impacted by the story, and I also want people to appreciate the different genres. I hope everyone will love it and be blown away.
This Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm
PURCHASE TICKETS HERE
Meet the Soloists of West Side Story + Roméo et Juliette Part 1: Alex Stone.
This Sunday, March 8th at 4 PM at Strathmore: Young Artists of America And MCYO Philharmonic & Symphony Orchestras Present ‘West Side Story and Romeo et Juliette’ on DCMTA.
DCMetroTheaterArts’ Best of 2014: High School and Training Programs: Hailey Giddings is honored for her performance as Maria in West Side Story at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School.
Read all our YAA coverage on DCMetroTheaterArts.
Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras website.
Young Artists of America website.