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Cinderella at the shoe store

Allie Demers singing Christmas carols with her electrified ukulele

Allison Demers, actress, Ukulele singer.
Allison Demers, actress, Ukulele singer.

“Can we be serious!”

That’s me, trying to get a shot of Allison (“Allie”) Demers, 22-year-old stage actress, singer, composer, veteran of acting school, recipient of an MFA degree in musical theater from Indiana University, ukulele player, fearless pre-Christmas recitalist of solo carols for the Charleston Shoe Company’s annual community outreach here in Coronado, and, well, right now, shoe store assistant and coffee barista. 

Allie has just come off from a successful season in The World Goes ’Round, a musical that played for five weeks at the Coronado Playhouse. If you haven’t seen it, think New York, New York! meets Kiss of the Spider Woman. It’s a revue where every player has to be ready to sing, dance, act, the whole enchilada. But that’s what Allie is trained for. 

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Problem is, I’m early. I’m never early! But tonight, I’m twenty-four hours ahead. Allison is still Cinderella, just the sales girl at the Charleston Shoe Company. It’s tomorrow that she’ll turn into a Broadway-trained, Broadway-bound star, singing Christmas carols with her electrified ukulele, and maybe adding a couple of her own songs. 

“So I played in The World Goes ’Round for the five-week season,” she says, “and now I’m here, working in my part-time jobs, and also working on some music with friends and colleagues. We’re hoping to finish an album. I’m a songwriter as well as an actor. I love singer/songwriters like Billy Joel, Carole King, James Taylor.”

Her San Diego experience has enabled her to compare the cultures of the two Americas, Atlantic and Pacific. “It’s interesting,” she says. “The difference is less in taste than in community. New York is not very friendly, but it is very professional. Not that it isn’t professional here too, but back there, it’s a tough business. Here, because it’s not saturated, and you’re not competing with live theater on Broadway, and because people don’t come to Southern California for live theater so much as for the movie-making culture, there is much more of a community sense [among stage actors]. I’m reminded every day how everybody knows each other in the business. It’s amazing. And while there is a good amount of professional theater, most is non-Equity and community theater. It’s a lower-stakes environment compared with the northeast. Not as intense a way of life. I was brought up within an hour of New York City, and so how I trained, and the people who mentored me, who I trained with, definitely influenced me.”

Which set-up is ultimately better? The taut, take-no-prisoners east or the more freewheeling west? The jury, she says, is definitely still out. But you can’t help but feel that California is already working its wonders on her. It’s like she can’t stop smiling.

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Allison Demers, actress, Ukulele singer.
Allison Demers, actress, Ukulele singer.

“Can we be serious!”

That’s me, trying to get a shot of Allison (“Allie”) Demers, 22-year-old stage actress, singer, composer, veteran of acting school, recipient of an MFA degree in musical theater from Indiana University, ukulele player, fearless pre-Christmas recitalist of solo carols for the Charleston Shoe Company’s annual community outreach here in Coronado, and, well, right now, shoe store assistant and coffee barista. 

Allie has just come off from a successful season in The World Goes ’Round, a musical that played for five weeks at the Coronado Playhouse. If you haven’t seen it, think New York, New York! meets Kiss of the Spider Woman. It’s a revue where every player has to be ready to sing, dance, act, the whole enchilada. But that’s what Allie is trained for. 

Sponsored
Sponsored

Problem is, I’m early. I’m never early! But tonight, I’m twenty-four hours ahead. Allison is still Cinderella, just the sales girl at the Charleston Shoe Company. It’s tomorrow that she’ll turn into a Broadway-trained, Broadway-bound star, singing Christmas carols with her electrified ukulele, and maybe adding a couple of her own songs. 

“So I played in The World Goes ’Round for the five-week season,” she says, “and now I’m here, working in my part-time jobs, and also working on some music with friends and colleagues. We’re hoping to finish an album. I’m a songwriter as well as an actor. I love singer/songwriters like Billy Joel, Carole King, James Taylor.”

Her San Diego experience has enabled her to compare the cultures of the two Americas, Atlantic and Pacific. “It’s interesting,” she says. “The difference is less in taste than in community. New York is not very friendly, but it is very professional. Not that it isn’t professional here too, but back there, it’s a tough business. Here, because it’s not saturated, and you’re not competing with live theater on Broadway, and because people don’t come to Southern California for live theater so much as for the movie-making culture, there is much more of a community sense [among stage actors]. I’m reminded every day how everybody knows each other in the business. It’s amazing. And while there is a good amount of professional theater, most is non-Equity and community theater. It’s a lower-stakes environment compared with the northeast. Not as intense a way of life. I was brought up within an hour of New York City, and so how I trained, and the people who mentored me, who I trained with, definitely influenced me.”

Which set-up is ultimately better? The taut, take-no-prisoners east or the more freewheeling west? The jury, she says, is definitely still out. But you can’t help but feel that California is already working its wonders on her. It’s like she can’t stop smiling.

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