Interview: Ginny Swanson- The Search for Roxie: Chicago the Musical
Theatre Talk Boston (henceforth TTB) sat down with Ginny Swanson, a semifinalist in “The Search for Roxie" for Broadway’s Chicago the Musical. Read below about how she got started in theatre, as well as her experience finding out she was a semifinalist!
TTB: So good to hear from you, Ginny! I know you’re super busy so I don’t want to take up too much of your time, especially because you’re in tech for the show Little Women right now, right?
Ginny: Yeah we’re actually going into tech week this week! This Saturday is our first long tech day so I’m really excited about that. We had our sitzprobe last night; it’s always my favorite part of the show process because it’s so cool when the band comes together with the cast and everyone is just so excited!
TTB: That’s awesome! Okay, let’s start by introducing yourself.
Ginny: Okay, yeah! My name is Ginny Swanson, I’m from St. Petersburg, Florida originally and I go to school at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m a senior musical theatre major and business minor.
TTB: How did you get into theatre?
Ginny: Growing up, I loved putting on shows for my family, choreographing little dances with my friends, and making movies. I never took classes when I was little and I really didn’t start doing theatre until middle school, which I feel like is kind of rare these days. It’s especially rare with dancing; I always hear about people that are dancing since the age of three but I actually didn’t start dancing until high school. I worked really hard to learn how to dance; I did ballet every Sunday for six hours straight because I wanted to get better and didn’t have the years of training that some people had.
Anyway, my first musical was in middle school and I was completely hooked. My sophomore year of high school, I went to Broadway Theatre Project (BTP) for 2 years and loved it. That’s where I decided to pursue musical theatre as a career. That’s where I said, “I can do this. I can get early every day and train all day and do a show that night."
TTB: That’s awesome! So, how did you come to know Chicago?
Ginny: Actually, while at BTP, I got to work with some people who were involved with Chicago on Broadway: Deb McWaters, who was the assistant choreographer for Chicago, is a mentor to me and the head of BTP. I really just started falling in love with Chicago and started learning a lot about Fosse’s (the choreographer's) style and his life. I also did Chicago in high school and met so many people that did Fosse, did Chicago, and had some connection with the show. Chicago became one of my favorite musicals. I love the movie, and I saw the musical front row when I was a sophomore in high school. It was amazing. When I saw this opportunity to audition for Roxie Hart, I said, “You know what, I have to do this!” This has been a dream of mine for so long. Chicago is a show that keeps reappearing in my life; we actually had a masterclass at Belmont with someone who was in the original Broadway production of Chicago, and that was the day that I submitted my video submission for Roxie. I said, “this is a sign!”
TTB: Oh wow! So what was the process like of submitting your video and finding out you were a semifinalist?
Ginny: My best friend filmed my video for me. I submitted my video and posted it on Facebook and Youtube. I was surprised that it was getting a lot of attention, but I kind of thought of it as a shot in the dark because there are hundreds of submissions and so many amazing people out there. I never really thought I would hear anything. A woman from Chicago the Musical reached out to me and I wasn’t expecting it! It was just a random Wednesday and I was going to school. I just got home from dance class one day and opened my email and said “Oh my god! This is so cool!” I’m very Type-A, so when I found out about being a semifinalist I made a list on my phone of everyone in my life in theatre who could help me out with this because it really does take a village! I think that’s what (this process) is all about; they not only want to create hype for the musical, but also get everyone involved in the process. I found out (that I was a semifinalist) a week before it was announced, and it was so hard not to tell anyone! Once the news came out, it was so exciting! I really didn’t expect there to be as much social media attention as I got. So many people are being so supportive by calling me, messaging me, and sharing my post. It feels so great to have so many friends and family that are supportive; I feel really blessed to have that. I actually remember when the news came out on social media; it was like 5:00 or 6:00 pm and I said: “maybe they’re not gonna send it out today since its the end of the workday.” I was in between 2 recitals when it was posted. I looked down at my phone and it said, “Chicago The Musical has tagged you in a post.”
TTB: Oh my gosh that's awesome! So how did you feel when Charlotte d’ Amboise reacted to your audition video and said you were "fabulous"?
Ginny: My friends and I sat in the hallway and watched the Broadway.com episode and when we got to the part where Charlotte d’ Amboise and the casting directors were all making comments, our jaws just dropped. We looked at each other and just started screaming because it was so exciting! I didn’t even have words; it’s so crazy to see these extremely talented and successful people making great comments about something I put into the world. There is always fear about putting something out there; you could get bad feedback so you just have to be confident in who you are, but I was just so excited to be in that video and be featured on Broadway.com!
TTB: If people who want to vote for you, what is the easiest and best way to do it?
Ginny: If you want to vote for me, all you have to do is go to chicagomusical.com/roxiecasting. The link can also be found on my Instagram (Ginny_swanson).
TTB: Ginny thank you so much! Best of luck with everything and break a leg!
Ginny: Thank you so much!
This interview was edited and condensed.
Make sure to vote at chicagomusical.com/roxiecasting. Voting ends November 8th.
You can also learn more about Ginny on her website at GinnySwanson.com.
Interview conducted by Lara McCallister for Theatre Talk Boston