By Lenny Megliola/DAILY NEWS CORRESPONDENT
Ali Ewoldt was smart enough to get into Yale and major in psychology, even though her heart was set on a theater life.
She had danced since she was 3 and took voice lessons at 10. "I loved it. I was never into sports. I wanted to perform. We lived in Pleasantville, N.Y. Close to Broadway. My parents took me to see shows." The bright lights only kindled her passion.
But few career choices are as risky as show biz, and Ewoldt knew it. "It's challenging. A lot of people want to do it." So she studied psychology. Nice back-up plan.
To make it in theater, she reasoned, "you need luck and timing." She bumped into both soon enough.
Ewoldt managed to stay close to the stage at Yale, doing plays, operas and musicals. In her senior year she was cast in Yale Graduate School's production of "The Marriage of Figaro." A cast member had invited a friend, who happened to be an agent. Ewoldt caught her eye. "She contacted me a couple of weeks later, and once I graduated she started sending me out on auditions."
Luck and timing.
Ewoldt, 29, will be playing the coveted role of Maria in "West Side Story," which opens June 14 at Boston's Colonial Theater. She's come a long way since when she was 10 and cast in Westchester Theater's production of "Phantom."
"They were looking for a little girl. It wasn't a complicated part, just a cute kid running around the stage. At the audition all I had to do was sing 'Happy Birthday.' But that's when I really fell in love with musical theater.
"We did four shows a week, for nine months. I did my homework backstage. I got paid $75 a week. Big money."
After she graduated from Yale, she auditioned for "Sesame Street." "I didn't get the part, but it was a really cool." She found steady work for two years at Disneyland in "Aladdin." In 2004, Disney sent Ewoldt to Japan where she sang Broadway tunes for appreciative audiences. It was an eight-month run.
When she returned, her career took off and what better vehicle for that to happen than being cast in the fabled "Les Miserables." Ewoldt joined the cast for a national tour. When it was revived on Broadway, she played Cosette.
She's been in "West Side Story" since October. This marks Ewoldt's second appearance in Boston. She came here with "Les Miz" when it played the Opera House two years ago.
She's thrilled to come back to Boston where she has friends who went to MIT and Harvard and relatives in the area. They'll be at the show, as will her parents who'll drive more than four hours from Pleasantville.
"The show will run for four weeks, so there will be days off, and I can explore the city," said Ewoldt who stays in shape for the rigorous life of musical theater by going to the gym.
Any spare time is usually spent with a book. "I love reading. I like to sit down in a park and read." To that pursuit, Boston Common across the street from the Colonial is a likely stop for her.
No final ending to this tour has been announced, but when that day comes, "I'll go back to New York and start auditioning again," said Ewoldt. "I'd like to do more straight plays, and television and film."
For now, she's Maria, her favorite role. "She gets to go on such a journey. She hadn't experienced anything. In the end, she experiences love, hate, passion, bigotry."
For Ali Ewoldt, the journey began the first time she put on dance shoes. She was 3.
"West Side Story" runs June 14 to July 9 at Colonial Theater, 106 Boylston St., Boston. Tickets start at $48. Information: 800-982-2787, BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com/Boston.
Reach Lenny Megliola at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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