By Anand Venigalla
Assistant Features Editor
Diamond White, a 2017 musical theater graduate, has made it to Broadway in the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” as an understudy for the roles of Zoe Murphy, Evan’s high school crush, and Alana Beck, Evan’s classmate. She got the part in December, but she hasn’t gone onstage yet.
“It’s a dream come true, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve made it super soon,” White said about performing in a Broadway show. She has dreamed of it since she was six years old.
The show is about a high school senior named Evan Hansen who suffers from social anxiety disorder. After the death of one of his classmates, he fabricates a lie that ends up bringing him closer to the classmate’s family, while also giving him a sense of purpose and meaning. “I couldn’t pick a better show to be a part of because it’s a show with a strong message,” White said. “Not your typical music- theater piece where you just sing and do a tap dance; it requires serious acting, which was drilled into our heads here at Post. So it’s a dream come true. Of course, it’s amazing just being there.”
Some of White’s favorite playwrights are August Wilson and Lydia Diamond. Her favorite Shakespeare play is “Measure for Measure.” Her acting inspirations are Viola Davis, Audra McDonald and Meryl Streep. “They’re all women, and Viola and Audra are two women of color who paved the way for women of color like myself to make it, and they’re all strong actors, they’re actors first,” White said.
White credits her success to her theatre professors, including Professors Maria Porter, David Hugo and Rob Gallagher. “Rob Gallagher taught me how to sing properly; David Hugo and Maria Porter were my two main acting teachers here.”
Being an actor comes with positives and challenges for White. “There’s nothing like it
in the world, like being able to slip into being someone else for a little while and live out their reality,” White said. “Some of the cons are that it does get hard, auditioning all the time, hearing ‘no’ constantly; I think actors might be some of the most insecure people, but we wouldn’t trade it up for anything.”
White would like to perform in the musical “Memphis” on Broadway. She once played Felicia at CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale, N.Y., and she would like to perform the same role in the future.
White has had a positive experience with her fellow actors in “Dear Evan Hansen.” “My favorite person is Taylor Trensch. He’s the new Evan and he’s a star and just the kindest person I’ve ever met, so kind and down-to-earth and so sweet,” White said.
White recommends that aspiring theater actors watch and read plays, as well as study the history of theater. “It’s very important to know the history of theater, how it all started and why we have arrived to this point,” she said. “All these musicals from Broadway stemmed from somewhere, and we need to know about that.”
White describes the understudy as a “save-the-day” role. If the actors onstage get sick, have a family death or any issue of the like, it is the understudy’s job to take on the part in their absence. “We have to learn more than one role,” she said. She must be in-house for every show unless she gets sick or situations intervene.
Her advice for aspiring actors is to persevere and have dedication to the craft and a drive to improve. “It’s a hard business to break into. It’s very easy to get down on yourself and feel like you want to quit when it’s just right around the corner,” White said. “Take classes, brush up on your skills, what you don’t know–find out, what’s your weakest point? Make it stronger, make it your strength.” White believes it is important for actors to continually take classes and brush up their skills.