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

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.