• Natalie Wisdom

Adrianna Rose Lyons- Professional Actress

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

[Interview Date: November 25, 2020]

Elsa u/s, Frozen First National Tour and more.

What were your initial thoughts when your tour went on unexpected hiatus as a result of the pandemic? What was that like for you?

I’d say at first, it was a little bit shocking. We didn’t have much time to think about it. Before I knew it, I was packing up my travel trunk and suitcase and back home at my parents’ house. It wasn’t until I was home that I even started thinking about what was happening, or even how long it would be. At first, I think we were all pretty hopeful that we’d be back in just a few months. We really didn’t get a chance to say ‘goodbye’ to the show or to each other.

How did the shutdown affect your immediate and long-term plans?

I mean, completely. As a performer, I don’t think any of us really could have done anything to prepare for something like this. I know for myself, I wanted to be on tour for some time to gain experience and closeness with the show, save some money, maybe move to New York City and get an apartment of my own. Our whole lives got put on hold with how unexpected and unsteady that time was; especially at the beginning.

You got a puppy during this time! What spurred that decision for you? And how has having a new pet helped you?

I’ve always been someone who loves animals and has dogs in her life. Even on tour, I would see the other cast mates that had pets and loved that they were getting to travel with a companion! I loved that idea and that relationship, especially on the road, where things can be stressful or lonely sometimes. I even thought about getting a dog while on the road, so it seemed like the most obvious thing to do the second we got the news that we’d be away from the show for some time.

Stash (my dog) has helped me in so many ways that I didn’t expect during the pandemic. Besides him making it easier for me to make a schedule while I’ve been unemployed and also forcing me to get outside regularly; he’s also challenged me to look at myself and my own mental health. Raising a puppy, (or I can imagine, a child) during this year has been kind of scary. You want to be a leader for those following you. You want to be grounded in who and what you are, so that you can lead the way with confidence. But I have felt anything but strong at many different points of this year. He’s not only exposed that, but has challenged me to rise to the occasion. I’ve seen myself struggling to get things right with him and instead of letting the failure of that moment get to me (as I’ve allowed myself to do many times in my past), I’ve been able to see myself pushing past those hurdles in ways that I never thought I could before.

Dogs also don’t lie. So, if I’m trying really hard to be OK even though I’m not, he can sniff it out immediately and call me out on it. I don’t know what this year would have looked like if I hadn’t gotten the puppy.

Did you initially anticipate that Broadway and other theatre productions, including your tour, would be closed for this long?

For me, personally, I thought it might be a possibility. I think as a defense mechanism I always try to imagine what the worst scenario might look like, so that if it comes to fruition, I’m not overcome with surprise. I think the thing that surprised me the most though, was how badly it affected the community as a whole. It was heartbreaking to watch, over time, what that kind of news meant for everyone’s individual journey. Friends lost jobs and apartments. Many had to move back in with their parents. However, at the time, I counted myself very fortunate that I still technically had a job that was waiting for me, while a lot of my friends had to say ‘goodbye’ to their shows forever. Still, nothing is promised. It’s been almost 8 months, and it’s looking like it’ll be longer still. So, a lot, to this day, is still up in the air, and that includes what kind of a plan one should be making around it.

As a California native, you’ve chosen to spend most of this time on the West Coast. What has that been like for you? What differences do you notice about the two opposite coasts, and would you ever consider living on the East Coast after this?

My whole life has been about this question! Being home during the pandemic has certainly been a bag of mixed emotions, because as much as I loved California, I have found myself, most of my adult life, trying to get away from California. However, because I’m an artist; financially, I’ve always been able to support myself better in California, since the work has always been available to me on that coast. But I have been waiting for the right time and moment in my career to make the move to New York permanently, which was the plan I had for myself when I finished touring with Frozen.

So, being home again is… frustrating, to say the least. I consider myself to be a 100% Musical Theatre artist. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I don’t really have or want a Plan B, so it’s always felt wrong that I’m not living in the biggest Musical Theatre city in the world. I’ve always felt like I should be living in New York City; and unfortunately, at this point in my life, there’s always been a “smart” reason for me to spend time elsewhere. Like this year, not having a job and waiting for Frozen, it seemed like a smarter decision to wait it out in a rent-free zone and just do my best to save money.

Also, with Broadway and the theatre industry shut down as a whole, my dream of moving to the city to audition and work seems farther away than it ever has before. But yes, it is still a dream of mine.

What have you been doing over the past several months to stay sane? What has helped you the most?

I don’t normally realize how much time auditioning and working takes up in my life; not until this year. And having to find something to focus on outside of that lifestyle has been a struggle. It still continues to be. However, I find doing daily fitness exercises has been extremely important to my mental health. Sticking to the same routine has also been really good for me. My boyfriend is really good at that and has encouraged me a lot this year to keep it up, as it’s not really my strong suit. Also just having the dog has helped me crazy amounts in sticking to a routine every day. I’ve also tried to spend as much time as I can outdoors. (I think it’s so healing.) So, I’ve spent a lot of time at the beach, roller-skating, hiking, running or taking walks outside with my dog. Staying inside all day is rarely an option. But when I am indoors, I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time playing video games with my boyfriend which is hilarious. It’s definitely helped us bond and keep a little bit of our competitive spirit alive. It also just makes me feel cooler, because I never thought I was any good at video games, and there is a feeling of accomplishment that comes with that.

Biggest ones have been: home fitness, learning to roller-skate, and adventuring outside with the dog. Those have saved me this year.

What has been the hardest thing about the past months since the shutdown?

Most definitely, just not knowing if I’ll ever perform again. And even saying that, I have to tell myself, “Yeah, of course you will. Don’t say that,” but it’s a thought that you can’t help but think during these times. As an artist, you can get paranoid about your craft. Am I getting rusty? Will I be any good when I go back? What can I do at home that’s going to keep up my chops in the same way? How long will I have to do it like that? Will my job ever matter again? Those are just a few of the many questions that have run through my mind. The hardest part is just not knowing what to do with a career that you’ve built. Will it go towards something again? Should I start looking into other jobs? Will I have to start from the beginning?

Honestly, the hardest part has been trying to hold on to a memory of who I am. Singing was who I was. Dancing was who I was. Performing was my whole life. Strip those things away, and what am I without them? So much of my identity was put into those categories, so to say I’m having a bit of an identity crisis is an understatement. I’d say that facing that reality and asking those hard questions about my life has been the hardest part about these past 8 months. But they’ve also been extremely healing. I don’t have it all figured out yet, and it seems every week is a new chapter to a story I am writing, but I am still that powerful woman that can create life with her talent. It still exists, and it won’t ever just go away. It’s going to be about channeling it in a way I never imagined before. And that’s going to be OK too.

What positives, if any, do you think have come out of this time of quarantine?

I think just spending so much time with myself. Seeing how I manage problems and deal with stress. I’ve found out a lot about myself this year, and still continue to find out more on the daily; and that’s been a huge blessing. I’ve found myself able to really ask some of the hard questions; the questions that make me feel ashamed or ugly about myself. I’ve started to really dig deep and get into the essence of who and what I am. Why I think the way I think. Why I feel self-conscious around other people. Pain that I’ve not truly healed from in my past. Whether or not I’ve been searching for it. It’s all found its way into my life and asked me to deal with it. Also, just getting the time I’ve always wanted with my little family I’ve created. Who knows if I’ll ever have this time again to just to sit with myself and my loved ones like this? Getting the time to raise my puppy and train him properly. Living in locations I’ve only dreamt of. Getting a sense of living life on the edge. Having an adventure to share. There are probably more blessings this year than I even realize right now.

What do you miss the most about performing in Frozen and live theatre, in general?

I don’t think I realized how important my theatre family was in my life until the lockdown started. When your social circles get cut down to the bare essentials, you don’t really realize how big a part your colleagues play in your life, especially in our industry. Missing Christmases and important holidays and events and birthdays are all a very normal thing for those of us who perform. I’ve spent a lot of those important days with my cast, at the time. Some of them I knew, and most of them I barely knew. But that’s kind of the magic about our world as well. It’s there only for a brief time before it ends and we all move onto our next adventure.

I think, because of that, I’ve always been a bit guarded when I step into a new environment with a new cast. Sometimes, getting too close to people who will inevitably move on to other relationships gets harder as you get older, or at least it has been for me. So, I tend to be a bit reserved when it comes to sharing myself vulnerably with others in my industry.

Now reading that, I still understand why I do that, and I think there is a healthy level of protecting yourself. However, I think it is my biggest regret that I haven’t always gotten closer to the ones I work with. There is no other group of people on the planet that understand our hopes and dreams and desires like those we share the stage with. No one else will understand being away from loved ones to work onstage. No one else will understand the sacrifice and tears and hardships we put ourselves though to get a chance at performing. Those we share audition rooms with, dressing rooms with, buses with… those people are my family. I think being on lockdown has truly made me realize that, because I miss that community more than ever now that I cannot be around it. I miss being around people who live for what I live for. They are all my soulmates in one way or other.

What’s your favorite theatre memory?

This sounds so easy and silly, but all of it. Every second of it. There’s too many to list.

What is the thing you’re most excited to do when live theatre is back?

I’m most excited to just be in a room full of like-minded people. Just picturing a bunch of us in a room (with or without masks), getting to sing in a music rehearsal together brings tears to my eyes. Much less, learning to dance together. All of it is going to be extremely overwhelming if it comes back in the same way.

What advice do you have for young Broadway hopefuls during this time?

Don’t stop your craft. Keep trying to put yourself to work in any way that you can, and don’t let the fact that the Broadway community is hurting turn you away from pursuing this art, because it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. It might just look different than it did, but the love of it will never go away. The world needs your talents; maybe now more than ever. Find creative ways to keep putting yourself out there!

Lightning Round:

Favorite Broadway Musical: Into the Woods

Dream role: Charity in Sweet Charity, Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Roxie in Chicago

Favorite Movie Musical: Chicago

Movie that you think should be a musical: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Favorite Broadway Icon: Sutton Foster

Favorite city on tour: Of the three we went to, LA was the coolest, because it was home

Favorite Dressing Room item: Humidifiers and essential oils

Can’t tour without ________.: Essential oils! They just make you feel good! And ginger chews.

Favorite Theatre Tradition and/or Ritual: Putting on the make-up before a show. Something about that gets me in the zone.

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