As theaters across the United States began opening their doors to patrons again this fall, a number of Rider Musical Theater alumni joined the cast of Broadway’s North American tours.
Kelliann DeCarlo ’13 is a swing for Grizabella and Jellylorum in the tour of Cats. Gabrielle Beckford ’17 is a member of the ensemble and backing for Angie Dickinson in the tour of Prom. Elizabeth Ritacco ’15 is a swing in the tour of Anastasia. Kelly Prendergast ’18 is a swing in the tour of Waitress. Rosie Webber ’16 is a member of the ensemble and Fruma-Sarah in the tour of violin on the roof. Colby Dezelick ’16 is a member of the tour ensemble Frozen. Elise Shangold ’20 is a member of the ensemble, which also plays Zach’s mother, Lynette and is an understudy for Paula on the tour of An officer and a gentleman.
For DeCarlo, Beckford, Ritacco, Prendergast, Dezelick and Shangold, their roles mark their national tour debuts. Webber made his national tour debut in Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Dezelick previously had Broadway roles in Miss Saigon as a member of the ensemble and understudy for the lead role of Chris and in Anastasia as a member of the ensemble and an understudy of Dmitry.
For DeCarlo, taking the stage for the first time in two years was extremely moving. On September 19, she made her debut as Grizabella in the Cats toured in Rochester, a role she previously played in a regional production of the musical in 2017. In this role, DeCarlo sings the iconic song from the series “Memory.”
âThe first time on stage in a swing role is very chaotic because you fill a space and it’s the first time in makeup and costume,â she says. “It brought me such peace to hear the applause from the audience. I walked off the stage and automatically started crying because I hadn’t done this for two years. There was such adrenaline going to be in it. that time.”
Just as COVID swept across the United States in March 2020, Beckford played the role of Fedna in Gloria: a life, new play on the life of the writer and political activist Gloria Steinem. The show began in 2019 at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey, before moving on to the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts from January through March 2020.
âThe last time I performed on stage was literally right before COVID hit,â she says. âPlaying is what I love to do, and I think my goal is to use my gift to impact lives in impactful ways. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to do what I love and to bless them. others in the process as well. “
Touring requires flexibility and endurance for performers. Each tour includes at least 20 city stops, with some having shows in more than 60 locations in the United States and Canada. Each tour features around eight shows per week per city, many of which stay for several weeks in one location. A suitcase full of activewear is essential, says DeCarlo, who is currently in Spokane, Wash., The seventh stop of the more than 40 participants in the Cats Tour.
âDuring the pandemic, I really wanted a job where I traveled,â she says. âI was really looking for a cruise ship role or a tour. I didn’t see a lot of country. The other week some of my actors and I were hiking in Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas. something I would never have done otherwise. “
Above all, Beckford can’t wait to be with the audience again when Prom the tour will begin Nov. 2 in Cleveland.
âI feel honored and grateful to be able to take this trip,â she says. “I always say that the actors are the ‘doctors of the soul’, and I am even more empowered now to bring this new life to audiences across the country.”