Kevin Ray Johnson
I want to introduce you to Lisa Finegold and Tanner Ray Wilson. Lisa and Tanner currently serve as the Dance Captain’s as well as Swings with Lisa understudying the role of Philoclea (played by Alexandra Socha) in “Head Over Heels” which features the music of the Go-Go’s on Broadway at The Hudson Theatre. Other credits for them include Lisa performing on Broadway in “Rock of Ages” and the tours of “Wicked” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and Tanner performing on Broadway in the revival of Cats and the tour of “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella”.
Both have been performing for a very long time. Tanner started performing at the age of nine and studied dance at Christie McNeill’s Dance Studio in Jonesboro Arkansas for nine years before moving to North Carolina and attending the music theatre program at Elon University. He studied there for two years and left the program to pursue ventures in New York City. “At both places I found myself drawn to many strong women in particular. Christie McNeill obviously instilled with me a love for dance that has never wavered. At Elon University, Cathy McNeela, Lynne Kurdziel Formato, and Linda Sabo shaped me as a professional. I owe a lot to these women!” says Tanner. Lisa started performing at the young age six years old and started dancing seriously at the age of ten. She studied at the Boston Conservatory, where she earned a degree in Musical Theatre with an emphasis in dance. In college, the dance head of the musical theatre department, Michelle Chasse, took an interest in Lisa. “She helped me recognize that even though some of my professors weren’t paying much attention to me because I was the “dancer girl” in my class that I had a very marketable skill set and had all the tools I needed for a real career in the theatre.”
“Head over Heels” recently celebrated 100 performances on Broadway. Both Lisa and Tanner feel it went by so quickly. They also have nothing but glowing reviews about their time in Arcadia. “What a blessing that we’ve made it to this landmark!” says Tanner. So many beautiful memories have been made throughout the process of this show. Some of his favorite moments were made in their out of town try out in San Francisco. “I can’t pinpoint one exactly, but the sense of family and community that we had to create with one another holds a special place in my heart. I’ll also NEVER forget our time in rehearsals at New 42 trying to make sense of a new show. Good times!” says Tanner with Lisa adding that it truly has been an unparalleled experience. “The journey of working on a new musical is one that is as challenging as it is rewarding. My favorite moments attached to this show have been seeing the audience members who understand this show on a deeper level than its “fun” exterior. Although our show is a rollicking good time, it speaks truths about our society and about the world we all wish to someday live in” says Lisa.
The choreography in Head Over Heels is fantastic with lots of detail. Spencer Liff truly outdid himself with his choreography, and it shows every night at The Hudson in this tremendous musical filled with tons of energy. As Dance Captains, it is their job to know every single movement in the show. With that being said, I was really intrigued on what it is like for them to be the Dance Captains and if any challenges arise how do they overcome them. Lisa stated that “Being a dance captain is an incredibly challenging role. The responsibility of it all can sometimes be overwhelming, but I find that remembering that I have a partner in crime and I’m not doing it all by myself helps me overcome these hurdles. ” With Tanner adding that “Being a dance captain welcomes immense challenges. I’d be nowhere without Lisa Finegold! We are a good team, and I feel strongly that it’s the only way to do it. Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Every artist has a dream role/show. Over the years Lisa has had many dream roles fade in and fade out. “Right now, some roles of interest to me are Shelley in Bat Boy, Columbia in Rocky Horror, Gladys in Pajama Game, and anything NEW!” says Lisa. For Tanner it was simple. “I’d love to play Chistery the monkey in Wicked and Seabury in Hamilton!”
My favorite thing about writing these features is the advice the artists have for younger performers, and the advice Lisa and Tanner give is right on beat (no pun intended).
Lisa’s advice – “The best advice I can give to young performers seeking a career in theatre is to keep going. Perseverance is key, be true to yourself. I think what makes people most attractive, and cast-able is when they are authentically themselves. As well as focusing on the skills that don’t come as naturally to you, if you’re an amazing singer get your butt into dance class, or if you’re an incredible dancer take vocal lessons. Being well-rounded will take you far!”
Tanner’s advice – “The simplest and most valuable advice I can give to a young performer, is to focus and learn how to become resilient. If you lose sight of your dream, then your dream will lose sight of you! Understand that this can happen. Take a deep breath and lace up those jazz shoes.”
For more information about Tanner and Lisa and this amazing show please visit – https://www.headoverheelsthemusical.com/
Also! Check out Lisa and Tanners Quiz Off with The Broadway League –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XCDssW0gy0