Steamboat Springs When Grace Stockdale was at a young age, she saw "The Phantom of the Opera" on the Denver Center stage.
It was then that she looked up to the performers and dreamed to be one of them when she grew up. Years later, she has made that dream a reality.
Last weekend, the Steamboat Springs native was in the spotlight on that same stage in Denver as one of the touring cast members in the Broadway sensation, "Kinky Boots".
“It was exciting to see someone who was a neighbor and watch them grow up and get an opportunity like this,” said Stuart Handloff, director of the Great American Laughing Stock Co. and a friend of Stockdale’s family. “It was really impressive to see her in that sort of production where she was able to shine and be part of such a neat ensemble.”
In early March after a New York City showcase performance at Ithaca College, where she acquired a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree in music theater, she was asked to audition for a role in "Kinky Boots," a Broadway show written and developed by pop icon Cyndi Lauper, Tony-winning playwright Harvey Fierstein, along with director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell.
The touring show tells the story of Charlie Prince, one of the main characters who inherits his father’s shoe factory. Wanting to save the family business, he gets help from his friend Lola, who has the idea to change both of their destinies. They soon create sensational footwear giving the factory and its hardworking family a new future. The whole story is about what can be accomplished to change the world, merely starting with changing one’s mind and outlook on life.
Stockdale said she relates to her character Nicola, who comes from North Hampton, England. She is Charlie’s fiancee and is a driven young woman who knows what she wants and gets it.
“We may have been born in a small factory town, but we sure as hell don’t have to die here,” Grace Stockdale said in a British accent over the phone Thursday afternoon from Los Angeles.
Coming from Steamboat, she said, showed her the magnitude of a small town compared to a big city. But from the experience of traveling all over and touring in Europe, Steamboat always will be where she is from.
“We are one in the same,” Stockdale said about her character. Nicola's "dream was London and mine was New York City. Just because I’m born in Steamboat doesn’t mean I have to be there my whole life, but I still appreciate the person I am today because of my life there. It’s part of who I am.”
Growing up in Steamboat, Stockdale began performing at an early age and was influenced by music from her mother, Mary, and older sister Emily. She went to Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp and was heavily involved with theater.
“The thing I noticed about Gracie was that she always challenged herself,” said Victor Malana Mog, the music theater director at Perry-Mansfield for many years who now resides in New York City as an actor and director. “She was someone who was a real creator. It takes a lot of bravery to take those steps and challenge yourself like she does.”
Stockdale could see herself wanting to do something like this, but she had no idea it would be working with Lauper.
For right now, she isn’t worried about what the future may hold.
“That’s what this industry is about,” Stockdale said. “You never know. I love where I’m at in this long adventure. With this business, you have to be grateful for what you have in this moment. It’s really just the beginning.”
To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1