Lindsay Joan (‘16), cast in Broadway musical “Kinky Boots”

The room was in near darkness. A short, brunette girl with sparkling blue eyes stood on the stage, watching the tech crew set up the lights which flashed and pulsed to the rhythm of her heart. The velvet seats faced her.

This actress had only ever dreamed of stepping on a stage this boundless, and had only ever hoped to God that all of the seats were booked. Ever since Lindsay Joan (’16) was six, she knew that her future lay in singing and acting.

“I began doing theatre when I was six, and immediately fell in love with the beautiful ways art can change people’s lives,” she said.

First, it was elementary school plays. Then, it was performing for the community, doing professional theater, followed by landing smaller gigs for local companies. And at 16, she landed her first regional gig: the role of Ilse in “Spring Awakening.” But with all this, she risked putting her high school career in shambles.

“Doing theatre professionally was always difficult while being in school. During my sophomore and senior year I actually participated in the independent study program so I could continue doing theatre,” she said.

Regardless, when she walked onto the stage for Spring Awakening, she knew almost everyone involved in the San Diego theater community. Some of the judges, directors, actors and actresses, tech crew members and even the regulars who attended the shows knew her on a first-name basis. Even still, she often suffered from stage fright. But, oddly enough, this time wasn’t nerve-racking. She knew that this performance would be the first of many if she wanted to make it to her ultimate dream: Broadway.

In the same year, she landed her dream role of Natalie from the musical “Next to Normal.”

The shows came, the shows passed. Gig after gig, nomination after nomination, award after award, she soon became a prominent figure in the Southern California professional theater community. But if she was to make it in the musical world, she needed to expand her music career. During her junior year, she signed a contract with InRage Entertainment. She performed in clubs and posted demos on her YouTube channel, all the while working on expanding her acting career. She was featured in the “Kit Kat ‘My Break’” video contest after filming and submitting an ad with a friend, began more professional training in musical theater and genres such as jazz, and even started creating her debut album.

After her high school graduation, she decided to pursue a life of glamour in New York. But she never thought that it would be that difficult.

“The San Diego theatre community is very tight-knit so most of the time you know all the main directors in town fairly personally because you work with them often. But both San Diego and New York have wonderful people with incredible work ethic and professionalism. The biggest difference performing in New York is that you typically work with Broadway sets and costumes as well as directors, choreographers, and producers straight from the Broadway company,” she said.

According to her, the move was daunting. Unlike in Southern California, she didn’t really know where to start. The community was much larger and much more busy, so she didn’t have time to get to know everyone she was working with. Her colleagues gave her recommendations, though managers and directors were difficult to get to in the lightning-speed city life. But she eventually found a breakthrough. Several rounds of auditions later, she was accepted for the role of Maggie in the Broadway musical, “Kinky Boots.”

“The scene in New York is nothing like I expected,” Joan said. “The biggest thing I realized with moving here is that you truly are a tiny little fish in a giant ocean. New York is also very cutthroat in comparison to San Diego. There is no room for excuses or time to relax. It’s always go time, especially when you are constantly auditioning or working in a show. Nothing could have prepared me for how amazing, scary, and enlightening living in New York City is.”

Life in New York City wasn’t what she thought, especially as a Broadway actress. The first few days after she got casted, she instantly jumped into three weeks of rehearsal. The first two days were spent learning volumes upon volumes of music, the third and fourth days were dedicated to reading the entire script and choreographing the musical numbers, and the fifth and sixth days were used to block the show. Compared to San Diego, the hours were much longer.

“In New York a rehearsal is  6 days a week, morning until late in the evening,” she said. “In San Diego, most people do regional theatre on the side and have jobs during the day,”

By the end of the first week, everyone had finished one run-through. The second and third weeks were spent performing two more run-throughs. After that, it was time to adjust to the hustle and bustle of New York City, with three days of previews before critics were invited. Through the preview process, before and after shows everyone worked on fixing technical issues and solidifying their roles on stage. And all this time, she always had to be on top of her game.

“Our job as performers is to be completely prepared and ready to give a 110 percent performance by the first audience. Of course there will always be kinks to work out especially when you add all the technical elements, but at the end of the day, you have to be just as on your game for the first preview as you are for opening and closing,” Joan said.

Now understudying the main role of Lauren, she sees her dreams blossom.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to look at everything as a learning experience and a way to build yourself closer to your goals,” she said.

After a night of performance, she stands on the open stage and smiles. That same 6-year-old that had a spark in her heart, that same short, brunette girl with sparkling blue eyes, with the same velvet seats facing her.