College Sophomore Shavanna Calder Wins
Boston Theatrical Acclaim
June 2, 2006
Mass. – Wellesley College sophomore Shavanna Calder of
Vacaville, Calif., has garnered a plum theater role in Boston,
winning critical acclaim as Emmie, the daughter of a 1960s Southern
maid in the SpeakEasy Stage Company musical “Caroline,
or Change,” which runs at the Calderwood Pavilion through
The daughter of Ed Calder of Sacramento and Audrey Calder-Wood
of Vacaville, the 20-year-old attended Vacaville High School. Calder
has always lived in Vacaville; her parents had earlier emigrated
She started acting at
age 5 when her father was in a community college production of “Big River.” She had been attending
his rehearsals for fun when one day a little girl acting in the
show failed to show up for a performance. Shavanna easily stepped
into the role—and musical theater has been her passion ever
since. Growing up, she performed in many productions and attended
California State Summer School for the Arts. A well-rounded thespian,
in high school, she served in the Student Council, volunteered
at the senior center and played varsity tennis.
At Wellesley, she is
majoring in cinema and media studies with a minor in sociology.
She has performed in the theatrical production
of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the
Rainbow Is Enuf” through Ethos, a Wellesley group for women
of African descent.
Juggling rehearsals, classes and performances this semester have
been a challenge, Calder said, but well worthwhile.
“This experience has been absolutely incredible,” she
said. “The ‘Caroline, or Change’ cast, production
team and crew is filled with amazingly talented and yet humble
people. Being with these people day in and day out has given me
the opportunity to soak up knowledge and build great relationships.
I’ve really valued their support and honesty.”
Calder stumbled across an audition announcement for the Tony Kushner/Jeanine
Tesori musical at the end of the fall semester. She soon decided
to audition for the part of Emmie, the daughter of title character
Caroline. She won over director Paul Daigneault.
“You want to know that she’s been brought up by this
strong-minded woman, that Caroline is inadvertently changing the
world by the way she’s raising her kids,” Daigneault
told The Boston Globe. “Shavanna had all that.”
To Calder, the experience
has been exhilarating from the start, saying, “I really
believe this show has been a Godsend, because of the way things
have worked out from the audition experience
up until now.”
In addition to her performances, during one intermission, she
interviewed and videotaped people in the company for a project
that became part of her final exams at Wellesley.
“I received so much support from the cast in this,” she
said. “After the show that night, I spent five hours editing
the video. It took a lot of dedication, but working with Speakeasy
Stage and the cast made it easier. I felt it was like taking on
another class that I couldn’t get at Wellesley, and then
some, because of the commute.” Calder traveled an hour and
15 minutes from Wellesley to the rehearsal location.
Now that classes are
over for the spring term, she has a few days as the production
winds down to savor her experience. “I
think that this semester I was very lucky to have a lot of artistic
professors who understood the importance of this opportunity,” she
said. “Balancing studies with the show was not easy, but
musical theater is my passion and that simply made it worth it.”
Once the show closes, she will return to California for the summer
to work as an intern at the California Musical Theatre in Sacramento.
For a review and a feature
story about Calder and “Caroline,
or Change,” from The Boston Globe, go to www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2006/05/09/speakeasys_caroline_captivates/
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal
arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre
campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states
and 68 countries. For more information, go to www.wellesley.edu.