Performer of the Month: Sarah Gloss
Sarah Gloss is in her sophomore year at San Mateo High School. Past roles include Ethel McCormick in Footloose, Bubble Girl/Maid in Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Baker in Into the Woods, Rosalia in West Side Story, and Pinocchio in Shrek. She has been performing with the Hillbarn Conservatory since 2009 and is also an intern. Sarah always brings something new to the stage, and we are happy to have her here at the Hillbarn Conservatory. Make sure you catch Sarah this month singing and dancing across the stage in San Mateo High School’s production of Evita.
Q: When did you become interested in theatre?
A: I was first interested in theatre when I was about seven years old. My parents wanted me to get into theatre and we were trying to find a good place to do it, then one day an ad for Hillbarn just came in the mail. It was pretty much fate, and for the last nine years I’ve done shows here.
Q: What was the first show you saw on stage?
A: The first show I ever saw on stage was The Nutcracker at the San Francisco Ballet. However the first musical I remember seeing was Aladdin at a middle school in Modesto with my grandparents. I don’t remember a lot about it other than the girl who played Jasmine was really short, I remember thinking, “I can do this, I can totally be in theatre if I want to.” And a couple months later, I did Aladdin Jr. at Hillbarn.
Q: You’re an intern here and you’ve done a lot of different things around the theatre. What’s the difference between being onstage and being offstage?
A: Being in crew and being in a show are very different. They have different schedules and totally different skill sets; but I think you have a lot of fun in different ways. I think that by being in a show you get the thrill of being onstage. You get to bond with your castmates and there is nothing like performing in live theatre, it’s just so special. When you are on crew, there’s unmistakable bonding, you meet new and interesting people, and you have an underrated amount of fun. You also learn a lot of new things that you never thought you would’ve learned and never thought you would be doing.
Q: How does working backstage help you onstage?
A: Doing work backstage gives you a lot more understanding when you are onstage because when you are an actor in a show, you think, “oh here’s a bench, and suddenly there’s a scene change.” A lot of actors who don’t do crew think the bench will just move itself or the crew would just do it and they don’t really think about what it’s like to work backstage. Then after you do crew and you go onstage, you realize what’s going to happen with the set, or maybe I should help or move out of the way for the crew. And you definitely don’t take all their hard work for granted.
Q: What’s your favorite musical?
A: Obviously it’s Phantom of the Opera. The show is so good. It seems really cliché because it looks like so much of the population’s favorite musicals are Phantom, Wicked, The Lion King, or whatever popular long running show is on Broadway. I’m not just a fan of the musical, but also the book; I’ve just always been a huge Phantom nerd. My Instagram account used to be Phangirl_forever, but I deleted it.
Q: How did you feel the first time you performed in front of a live audience?
A: The first time I performed was in a dance show. I was only three years old, so I didn’t really comprehend it. The entire time I was staring at my parents, making them happy, and seeing them smile at me dancing on the stage. That was really all I cared about at that moment.
Q: Tell us about your first Hillbarn Conservatory show.
A: My first show, other than StarShiners, was Aladdin Jr. I was nine years old and it was my first musical. I was in the ensemble but I had a solo. My solo was in the song, “One Jump Ahead,” and I sang the lyrics, “Still I think he’s rather tasty” while I did some shimmies. It was definitely a starring moment that people who have known me for a long time still talk about.
Q: What motivates you to be in a Hillbarn class or production?
A: It’s just such a great community. There’s always a wonderful staff of directors, who work really hard to put together an amazing production. I think the fact that Hillbarn has a lot of good resources is helpful in making the production the best that it could be, especially for the cast and the crew. Another good thing is, a lot of kids from all over the Bay Area come here. I’ve met so many friends from other schools that have impacted me, and I can’t imagine what my friends circle would be without these influences.
Q: How has theatre helped you in life?
A: Theatre has helped me look at things from a different point of view. I think it’s made me more rounded, more open to speaking my feelings, and not being pressured into something I don’t want to do. Loving theatre was hard for me in elementary school because I went to a school that was dominated by sports; but Hillbarn has helped me navigate through life by helping me make choices in school and with friendships. And working here as an intern has made me a harder worker and made me happier to work hard at something I love.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being in a show?
A: My favorite thing about being in a show is the little moments when you are backstage or in the dressing room getting ready and someone might say something or do something funny. Or the little moments when you’re onstage and you and another person make eye contact in character and you both share that moment. Or going to BJ’s with the cast after the show. There are lots of great bonding moments, lots of great learning moments with the directors, and the little things make my day.
Q: What is your favorite show that you’ve been in?
A: That’s a really hard question because I like different shows for different reasons. But if I had to pick one, it would be Dear Edwina in 2012. Looking back on it everyone who was in it remembers the show and remembers how great it was. The cast all grew really close to one another, and because we were so close, we were able to put out our best effort for a really great show. Dear Edwina itself is pretty great in my opinion, and it’s such a fun show to do. I loved the role I got, I loved the people I worked with, and it’s something I continue to look back on four years later.
Q: What’s a favorite part you’ve played?
A: A favorite part I’ve played was The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods. I think it was one of the roles that challenged me the most; especially at the time I played it. When I was younger, all the roles I got were comedic roles such as Pinocchio in Shrek, Madame de la Grande Bouche in Beauty and the Beast, or Becky in Dear Edwina. I’d been so used to comedic roles, and in high school, there are still shows like that, but there are a lot less of those roles sometimes. Doing Into the Woods made me act more as a real character. Instead of doing a cartoon character, I was challenged to act like a real person, a housewife who wants to have a child, and I had to put myself in her shoes and navigate those emotions. I never had the opportunity to do that before and it was a really great learning experience that I had a lot of fun with.
Q: What is a dream role of yours?
A: I have a lot of dream roles, and the list just keeps bigger and bigger, but I think the biggest one, and everyone knows it, is Christine Daae from The Phantom of the Opera. Ever since I saw that show I’ve wanted to play her, and maybe it’ll happen one day, or maybe it won’t. I’m always singing Phantom; I’m always prepping to be her one-day. Maybe it’ll happen in a few years, maybe in twenty years, but I’ll never stop wanting to be her.
Q: Who is your Broadway spirit animal?
A: I think it would have to be Julie Andrews because she has such an enchanting personality onstage or onscreen. She can play many types of roles and all of them are very different. Her acting elasticity is cool to experience.
Q: What actor you would like to perform with onstage?
A: Mandy Patinkin, because he’s such a wonderful singer. I’ve always been a fan of his, and I think he has a mesmerizing voice. He’s such a talent, and I believe he’s one of the greats of our time.
Q: Why should people your age do Hillbarn Conservatory?
A: People my age should do Hillbarn because it’s a fantastic learning experience. You get to do shows outside of your school, meet new people, and you’ll get to work with fantastic directors and a wonderful staff who will help put on a great production. Everyone I’ve met at Hillbarn whether it’s a director or a student has something that I can learn from, and I think that is very special.