Get To Know: Kanysha Williams

Kanysha Williams makes her ASGT debut this weekend as Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act. We’re thrilled to welcome her to the ASGT family, and very excited for you to experience her amazing talent firsthand! We recently asked Kanysha a few questions so you can get to know her better.

When and how did you first get involved in theatre?

I believe my very first theatrical production was in middle school. I’m pretty sure I played a leaf on a tree or something like that. However, I seriously began my theatrical journey about 2 years ago. I kind of fell into theatre, by accident. A friend of mine invited me to an audition with him and I ended up getting the lead. I had such an amazing experience, and I knew this was something that I was made for. I’ve been chasing the dream ever since.

What was your first role? What is your favorite role to date?

My first role was Dorothy in The Wiz. It also happens to be my favorite. I did The Wiz at a time in my life where I was dealing with a lot, so while I was “easing on down the road” in Dorothy’s journey, I was maneuvering one of my own. I finished that production with a sense of purpose and direction. That show will always mean a lot to me; it really helped me through a lot.

Is there a show you’re just dying to be in, or a role you’re dying to play?

Ummm, Hamilton! Of course, but I’m sure that’s a pretty common answer. I suppose if I could have my way, I’d love to play Roxie Hart in Chicago. She’s such a complex character and the MUSIC! Ahhhhhh!! All that jazz!

What training do you have in acting, singing, or dancing?

Well, I’ll always tell people that I’m a singer first. I spent four years in the Vocal Music program at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington DC. From there, I studied voice at The San Francisco Conservatory of Music in San Francisco, CA. Then I received my Bachelor of Music degree from George Mason University.

While at Ellington, I was apart of the Ellington Show Choir, which required us to take classes in ballet and modern dance. These past few years, I’ve invested some time and energy into dance and acting lessons. I plan to never stop learning. Every class, lesson, and performance gives me the opportunity to grow more as an artist. I hope to always be a student of this world of musical theatre!

What attracted you to Sister Act?

Initially, it was the opportunity. There aren’t many roles that are specifically written for women of color. More often than not, we (WOC) have to prove that we can do what others can do, rather than having something catered to us, so when I researched the role, and saw Patina Miller’s phenomenal rendition of Deloris, I knew I needed to do it.

Then came the music! I think there’s a part of every girl that wants to be a Disney princess, so when I saw Alan Menken’s name on the score, I knew this was my best shot. He’s responsible for most of Disney’s famous classics, so I knew I was in for a treat when I got the score. I was not disappointed. The music is, well, fabulous!

What do you think ASGT’s audiences will enjoy most about Sister Act

This show is hilarious. I’m pretty sure it’s the most comical thing I’ve ever been apart of it. This production is made for those who want to have a great evening at the theatre. It’s accessible to everyone. You’ll enjoy it whether it’s your first or 100th time at a theatre. It has tons of laughs, really catchy music, and a story line that we all know and love.

What’s the best part of being a performer?

For me, there’s a moment. A moment where I’m completely in sync with the band, the tech crew, the ensemble, the choreography, the character, etc. It’s that moment where all of the preparation, the long nights, and the rehearsals have paid off and you can feel that everything is exactly as it should be. It’s the satisfaction of your hard work, and the reward of your diligence and effort. When I’ve achieved that moment, I am re-affirmed in my decision to pursue theatre, I am filled with a love for music that is unparalleled, and I know that I’m exactly where I belong.

I hope that you will come out and see Sister Act, and that we can create and experience those magical moments, together.

Get To Know: Clare Shaffer

Director Clare Shaffer makes her directing debut at ASGT this summer with our upcoming production of Sister Act. We’re thrilled to welcome her to the ASGT family. Clare got her B.A. in Dramatic Arts and Communications from UNC Chapel Hill and has directed at numerous theatres in our area. We recently asked Clare a few questions so you can get to know her better.

When and how did you first get involved in theatre?

I first became involved in theatre back in high school. I started out acting (by way of peer pressure), then playwriting (by way of curiosity), and eventually directing (by way of a teacher who saw something in me that I had not yet discovered). When I went to college, I double majored in Dramatic Arts & Performance Studies and ran my own theatre company, producing between 6-8 shows each school year. After that, there was no looking back.

What is your favorite play and/or musical? 

Today, my favorite musical is Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 and my favorite play is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Ask me again tomorrow and I’ll have a different pairing.

How long have you been directing, and what was your first directing job?

My first directing job in the area was a production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the Georgetown Gilbert & Sullivan Society. We rehearsed in the chapel on campus—people would often poke their heads in looking for a preacher only to find a fully-fishnetted Frank-N-Furter strutting his stuff. Those law students rocked.

What show are you just dying to direct?

Sondheim’s Assassins—and thankfully I will be taking a crack at that one this fall with Pallas Theatre Collective in DC! I’m directing an actor-muso production, with the whole cast playing both roles and instruments throughout the show. It’s going to be a blast (shameless plug here).

What attracted you to Sister Act?

The script is incredibly smart and funny, the music is non-stop fun, and there are so many opportunities for each member of the ensemble to shine! Full ensemble incorporation is a characteristic of most of the work that I do, and I’ve enjoyed developing every one of these characters.

What do you think ASGT’s audiences will enjoy most about Sister Act?

The sharp dialogue, hilarious characters, inventive choreography (thanks to Rikki Howie) and stunning vocals (thanks to Paige Rammelkamp).

What’s the best part of being a theatrical director?

No work day is ever the same—there are always new discoveries, new faces, and new moments of connection.

For more about Clare, please visit her website. To learn more about our production of Sister Act, click here.

Seeking a Board Treasurer

Serving on a nonprofit board is an excellent way to learn new skills, grow your resume, develop as a leader, expand your network, and give back to the community.

ASGT is currently seeking a Treasurer to serve on our board. This volunteer position is appointed by the Board President with approval from the Board of Directors, and has the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Receive all funds and make all disbursements under the direction of the Board of Directors.
  • Keep all financial records and prepare and submit monthly reports to the Board.
  • Prepare an annual statement for presentation at the January Board meeting reflecting all financial transactions in the previous fiscal year.
  • Arrange for an annual review of ASGT financial records and a review upon the completion of his/her term as treasurer.
  • Keep ASGT within the limits of the budget approved by the Board.
  • Maintain insurance on the ASGT building and property.
  • Arrange to complete and file annual income tax returns, personal property tax returns, and other forms necessary to maintain ASGT’s nonprofit status.
  • Maintain records for all ASGT contracts.

Are you committed to sharing your time and talents to help make your community a better place?

Do you have the relevant financial or accounting skills and expertise that could benefit ASGT’s work?

Are you willing to be an enthusiastic advocate for ASGT and encourage others to get involved?

If so, please send an e-mail to the Board President with a copy of your resume and a brief statement of why you would like to serve as Treasurer. You will be contacted shortly. Thank you for your interest!