Nestled among the glowing lights of the Vegas Strip lived choreographer Jolie Rand and her daughter, Nikki.
Rand was leading a Broadway children’s theater that she founded, called Broadway Bound, and she was simultaneously choreographing shows for high schools and a local community theater. Vegas wasn’t all that bad, but Rand was ready to leave the drone of electronic slot machine sounds and streets bustling with tourists.
“(Nikki) was going into high school, so we thought we needed a change; we wanted to move to a family-oriented community,” Rand says.
Nikki, also a dancer, now attends Booker High School.
Rand’s parents live in Sarasota, and she and her daughter would visit frequently. In 2010, they moved here permanently. Rand was glad to come to a warm place away from the hustle and bustle. Two days after arriving in Sarasota, Nikki auditioned for “Mame” at The Players Theatre and was cast.
“When we walked through the doors, Jeffery (Kin) was so warm, giving and kind ... We’ve never gone to any other theaters — it’s our home,” Rand says.
Rand, who started as a triple threat (dancer, singer and actress) at age 9, has been involved in theater her whole life.
At age 17, after attending a performing-arts high school, Rand spent summers in Atlanta performing and dancing at Six Flags Over Georgia. It was there that she befriended DeWayne Barrett, a fellow performer and now a fellow Sarasotan.
Rand tapped her way to a dance school in New York and a professional dance school in London where she began to excel outside of performance.
“My leadership skills as a dance captain and choreographer were noted early,” she says. “So, I knew if I couldn’t perform that it was a skill that was already honed and recognized.”
Rand continued to perform but “got heavy into the choreographing and directing” in the early ’90s.
She began choreographing at Broadway star Terrence Mann’s regional theater in North Carolina on and off for two years — it was her first big job. But she’d also worked with Barrett creating choreography for the theme-park show at Six Flags.
When Rand first settled here, it had been some time since she had performed, but she dusted off her dance shoes and took the stage with her daughter in The Players’ “A Chorus Line” in February. She also directed the Summer Sizzler, “Stay.”
But, because she had choreographed professionally, she was hoping for something more.
“Jeffery knew that I was interested (in choreographing), so he provided me with this opportunity,” Rand says.
After listening to the music from “Applause,” Rand had a vision. Created by meshing current Broadway choreography and different dance styles, Rand says she took a fresh approach to the musical, which runs Thursday, Sept. 20, through Sept. 30, at The Players.
“It’s not the ‘Applause’ people might know from the ’70s,” she says. “It’s a new take … the choreography is alive, and the staging and directing is hip and current.”
One of most enjoyable elements of choreographing is spending time with her daughter, who is the dance captain for the show.
“It’s a great way to raise a teenager — to have (the same) passion and do what we love to do,” she says.
Rand hopes to continue working with The Players Theatre in the future.
“They opened the doors, and we’re staying,” Rand says. “We love it here.”
Best overall production she’s ever seen: “Young Frankenstein” on Broadway in 2008
Show she would love to choreograph: “Bye Bye Birdie”
Favorite show she’s choreographed: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat”
Favorite show in which she’s performed: a national tour of “Guys and Dolls”
A show she hasn’t seen but wants to: “In the Heights”
Show she’s most looking forward to during Sarasota’s upcoming season: “Sideshow” at The Players Theatre
IF YOU GO
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20. Runs through Sunday, Sept. 30
Where: The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail
For more info: Call 365-2494 or visit theplayers.org.
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