‘Off Stage’ With The Dance Project’s Lisa Redden

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Last fall, “Backstage Pass”with behind-the-scenes video by Tom Ramont gave readers an inside look at The Dance Project’s “Cascade Christmas,” from auditions to performance. “Off Stage” is a chance to meet the cast and crew of the Dance Project without the costumes, choreography or stage make-up. Each profile offers a  peek inside their lives, a glimpse of what inspires them to perform and an appreciation for making a living in the arts in the North State.

Lisa Redden remembers her Grandma June singing around the house. “She had a wonderful voice and sang the songs of the 30s and 40s. Many of the songs were show and Broadway songs popular at the time. She was fearless in her singing and I’d sing with her like crazy. It took me many years to muster the courage to sing out loud in front of anyone but Grandma June.”

About 6 years ago, Lisa met vocal instructor Trish Spinner, and with her encouragement, sang in public for the first time. Since her first public performance, Lisa has taken some Waterbury classes at Shasta College and sung in recitals, local theater productions and plays. “Steppin’ Out” is Lisa’s third Dance Project production.


What was the defining event that started you singing?

No real defining moment other than seeking an instructor to find out if I really did have a voice. Everyone in my family said I did, but you know how that is. They have to say it!

You went to school with my partner, Troy (Hawkins). Give me the inside scoop on Troy as a boy.

My memories of Troy go back to before high school. I remember Troy from kindergarten. I always remember him smiling and being a sweet kid. I was very shy in school and always remember him being easy to talk to. As time went on and the schools got bigger, I lost track of him. I am so happy Troy and I have reconnected. Every time I see Troy it reminds me of being a kid at Sycamore Elementary School. He has the same smile now as he did as a kid.


What do you like most about living in the North State?

My friends, and all the people I’ve met over these past 6 years. Taking one singing lesson changed Redding for me. It opened so many doors. My confidence has soared as a performer and as a person while working with James and The Dance Project. I owe a very special thank you to Trish Spinner for having more confidence in me then I had in myself. It’s true! She forced me to audition for The Dance Project despite my sheer terror!

How is the North State different than when you were young?

You mean other than the fact that Mom doesn’t drive me to all my lessons, recitals and performances anymore? Wow, what a transformation Redding has been through in the past ten years. It’s changed phenomenally! There is not a weekend that my boyfriend and I don’t struggle to figure out what art event we’re going to attend. That “there is too much to do” feeling is a great feeling to have. Old City Hall, ArtHop, events at the Cascade, Movies in the Park, MarketFest, Film Festivals, Trader Joe’s (yes, Trader Joe’s is a work of art). There is just too much to do!


What organizations are you involved with?

I am involved, of course, with The Dance Project and I am a board member with The Westside Performing Arts Company. My boyfriend, the “other James” in my life, and I promoted a charity concert at the Cascade last year and I think we are going to try that one more time. I think in the long run I’d like to work in some non-profit way, raising money for young artists.

What appealed to you most about working with The Dance Project?

I sat in the audience watching Dance Project events, never dreaming I could be in one. The professionalism, sizzle and “wow” is mesmerizing! The dance numbers, songs and the amazing energy was something I wanted to be involved with. I am honored to be involved with James and the company. For me, it was a shy little girl’s dream come true. And even after being in three productions, it is still just as amazing as it was the first time I saw The Dance Project perform.


Do you have a favorite Dance Project moment?

I love those few seconds when the theatre is dark and all the performers are huddled in the wings waiting for the music and the show to start. In those five or ten seconds, there is such heightened awareness, mixed with nerves, mixed with excitement. I love it!

I’ve asked everyone so far, so you are required to answer: What was your most embarrassing stage moment?

It was during a rehearsal for my first show with The Dance Project. I was doing a move that required me to spin, with my arms out, while close to the other singers. I made my move and the next thing you know, Jana Leard put her hand to her face and said, “You cut my lip!” While I was spinning my finger got her right across her lower lip. I drew blood! I have it on video. Despite my assault on her, Jana really took me under her wing and showed me the ropes. I couldn’t have done it without her. She is a veteran, a pro and someone I am glad to call a friend.


How about your most magical stage moment?

I’d have to say it was during Cascade Christmas. After a performance, while walking through the theatre in my street clothes, I was stopped by a shy little girl asking for my autograph. It’s kind of silly, but who knows, maybe that little girl will some day be a performer on the Cascade stage.

What’s next for you?

I am going to invent a product that completely and painlessly removes layers upon layers of glitter. I’ll be a millionaire.

Tickets are still available for the Dance Project’s spring production, “Steppin’ Out.” See Lisa perform in the new show, March 19-27 at the Cascade Theater. For more information, visit thedanceprojectredding.com. For tickets, call the Cascade Theater Box Office at (530) 243-8877 or visit cascadetheater.org.

Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studiosand are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your North State events to adamm.anewscafe@gmail.com.

is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner are the owners of HawkMan Studios and the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop.
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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Troy Hawkins says:


    What a great tribute to the new you. I remember a deathly shy young girl of elementary school that was scared to raise a hand in class. You have grown so much. You should be very proud of yourself and what you've accomplished. I still see that sweet little kid in you but now that kid sings, dances and best of all laughs.

    We can't wait to see the show.

    Break a leg.

  2. Avatar Lachlan says:

    How fun to see my (former) neighbor up here on the screen! And I have learned a new connection we share, Lisa. Did you know I am a Waterbury too? Robert and Dr. Liz are my dad and step-mom.

    Adam, thank you for illuminating a local performing artist, and for all you do for the arts!


  3. Avatar Eilyne Davis says:

    Lisa, you are a class act through and through. Not only do you shine on stage, but you make everyone around you feel comfortable, loved and supported. Having admired you from the audience, I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to work with you this spring! You add so much to the experience for all of us!

    What a beautiful article…what a beautiful person! Congratulations!

  4. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    Everything about Lisa makes me smile. I didn't know the shy girl, and find that hard to imagine. She just bubbles with life and personality. If there were only one word to describe her, I think I would pick "adorable". Or maybe "vivacious". I guess I can't pick just one.

  5. Avatar Jim Dyar says:

    You go girl! You guys were fantastic in that preview show at the film festival gala. It's nice to see a natural performer really getting after singing and dancing. You're a great addition to the ever-improving, always amazing Dance Project.
    And just let us know when you're ready to sing "Hobo's Meditation" again (or anything else) with the crew.

  6. Avatar Spaman & The Dan says:

    I write this as Lisa is on stage and I am out of town. This is the 1st opening night of hers that I've missed.

    Although I know Troy is probably right, I have to agree with Lynn. It's hard for me to imagine my Lisa as anything but funny, effervescent and joyous. Truth be told, it's like living with Lucille Ball!

    Another truth. When asked for an interview from Adam, her very first reaction was to think of several other cast members who she felt deserved the interview more than she did. It's how she wired. I told her to take the moment and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

    She really is a talent and the light of my life. I can not imagine a day without her.

    She is the one who always looks at me with affectionate eyes.

    She is not practically perfect, she is totally perfect!

    If you see her this weekend tell her I love, give her a Kiss (don't muss the stage makeup) and tell her I'll be home before she knows it.

    Oh, by the way, the picture of Lisa with Grandma June was taken xmas 2009. June and Lisa still sing!


    • Avatar Grammalyn says:

      James, I missed opening night as well, and I don't recall ever doing that before. I'll see her tomorrow and I will be cheering for her, and for all of my other Dance Project friends. We are lucky to have such an amazing group of singers, dancers, and actors in our midst. You are especially lucky because her talent shines with you all the time!

      • Avatar Susan Daugherty says:

        I was there opening night and Lisa was, of course, fabulous along with the rest of the cast.

        Lisa is a terrific addition to the Dance Project. With her mega watt smile and personality, she can light up not just a room, but the entire Cascade Theatre. It made absolute sense for her to be Mary Poppins.

        I think what I admire most about Lisa, other than her voice…her dancing ability…her friendliness…her commitment to the arts…is the loving and patient manner in which she volunteers her time helping other performers when asked. She actually got me through dance steps for a Riverfront Christmas show one year, in spite of my two left feet, and helped me in a manner that kept me from fully feeling the embarrassment that has always accompanied such events!

        Lisa is a true gem.