San Diego actress returns to star in ‘Sleeping Beauty Wakes’ at the Playhouse
By Diana Saenger
Musical theater actress Aspen Vincent, who grew up in Pacific Beach, has the lead in La Jolla Playhouse’s “Sleeping Beauty Wakes,” which runs July 19–Aug. 21 at the Mandell Weiss Theatre. In her younger days, Vincent said she spent 10 years performing with Starlight Musical Theater, Christian Youth Theater (CYT) and Christian Community Theater (CCT) before attending Chapman University to study music. When job offers began enticing the singer in her third year, she said couldn’t refuse chasing her dream of a stage career.
“I never had any formal training, but CYT and CCT were a great starting place,” she said. “That organization is a huge part of why I’m a professional actress today.”
After college, Vincent took a role as the voice talent of Dodie Bishop in the three-time Emmy-nominated animated show, “As Told By Ginger.” Her stage credits include Broadway’s “American Idiot,” the first national tour of “Dirty Dancing,” regional productions of “West Side Story,” “Grease,” “Once Upon a Mattress” and “Little Women.”
One of her most unusual choices was to tour with Meat Loaf.
“I was the lead female in the Las Vegas show ‘Rock You,’ and several members of the band were from his band as he wasn’t on tour that year,” Vincent explained. “After the show closed, I moved to New York to pursue theater. Then I got a call that Meat Loaf’s backup singer left, a week out from a world tour. I was cast and had four days to learn the entire three-hour-long concert.”
Vincent had just made her Broadway debut in “American Idiot” when she was offered a part in Princeton’s McCarter Theatre “Sleeping Beauty Wakes,” which was transferring from Berkeley to New York. She said she found the score by composer Brendan Milburn and lyricist Valerie Vigoda (both of the acclaimed trio GrooveLily), cutting edge and groundbreaking.
“The company was looking for a belter, and someone older than 16, but who looked 16,” she said. “I missed performing every night, so I auditioned and got the role. GrooveLily is not traditional musical theater. Once I heard them, I thought they were great musicians, but I was curious about how their folksy style would transfer to stage music; now I‘m so impressed. Their instruments are very resonance driven, and Valerie plays the violin so beautifully.”
Returning to San Diego, especially to work at the La Jolla Playhouse, is very special for Vincent.
“The Playhouse is the theater I went to when I was growing up and to be able to come back here after fulfilling my dreams to be a Broadway actress is humbling and an honor. This is where I slept outside waiting to get rush tickets! Seeing shows here inspired the career I wanted.”
“Sleeping Beauty Wakes,” is not to be confused with the documentary “Waking Sleeping Beauty.” It’s a story, according to Vincent, that appeals across-generations. She said the message is to find the courage to be completely in the moment and living your life completely awake.
“Every character in this show is being held back, by a fear, neurosis, or lack of something that’s keeping them from living fully. My character is literally asleep and not able to do anything, but then she finds a way to break out of the prison she’s been in for so long.
“Every other character finds a magical breakthrough in their lives and they realize they need to revaluate their relationships with a spouse or child, or need to be recommitted to their jobs. So often we’re held back by fear and get stuck in these patterns where we’ve just been existing for years and not taking full advantage of the life that is so beautiful and precious, and the relationships around us, and not giving everything we can to them.”
While enjoying the highs of a Broadway performer, Vincent said she understands her career comes with lows as well.
“I’m acquainted with the pain that’s part of this industry — the insecurity of not knowing when your next job is coming; of not having a steady income and being flexible to play leading roles or wait tables. When young people ask my advice, I tell them to only pursue this career if it will kill your soul to not do it.
“I have no regrets, even if next year I’m waiting tables back in New York City. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and it brings me joy. I know I bring other people joy and I move people with what God has gifted me. For me, I can’t think of a more blessed career.”
What: “Sleeping Beauty Wakes”
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 7 p.m. Sunday, July 19–Aug. 21
Where: Mandell Weiss Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, UCSD campus
Tickets: From $37
Box Office: (858) 550-1010
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