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Dot Kelly's Path from Miss Virginia to the National Touring Company of Funny Girl


First National Touring Company of "Funny Girl." Dot Kelly is right behind Izaiah Montaque Harris, who is mid-jump.

Photo By Matthew Murphy.

Dot Kelly is currently performing in the National Touring Company of the musical "Funny Girl." The show will be at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles through Sunday, April 28th, and then moves to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from May 28th to June 9th, before traveling across the country through the end of April 2025. Dot is a former Miss Virginia with the Miss America organization. She's traveled thousands of miles promoting cultural diversity awareness education with the Virginia Alcoholic and Beverage Coalition's Youth Education Initiative, highlighting alcohol abuse prevention and youth leadership.  She's a creative and versatile professional who combines her expertise in event planning and performing arts to deliver unforgettable experiences for diverse audiences and clients. She holds a master's degree in performing arts leadership and management and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Shenandoah University. As an Event Specialist at ESP Creative, she's played a pivotal role in curating and executing memorable events, including NBC's SNL Wrap Party, Baldor Food Group's Holiday Event, and several private events both nationally and internationally. She is skilled in creating event concepts, discussing event details with clients, securing venue, catering and other services, and preparing budgets.


Listen to the full episode here.





[00:02:09] Dot Kelly on what she's most passionate about

[00:02:50] Dot Kelly on dancing as a child

[00:03:43] Dot Kelly on performing a song from "Funny Girl" in a recital

[00:05:10] Dot Kelly on getting cast in the National Touring Company of "Funny Girl?"

[00:05:53] Dot Kelly on getting involved with pageants

[00:05:58] Dot Kelly on getting involved with pageants

[00:07:55] Dot Kelly on being named Miss Virginia

[00:09:32] Dot Kelly on replacing Miss America Camille Schrier as Miss Virginia

[00:10:49] Dot Kelly on how COVID impacted her reign

[00:12:14] Dot Kelly on cultural diversity education

[00:14:59] Dot Kelly on becoming the second Asian Miss Virginia

[00:15:49] Dot Kelly on Asian American representation in media

[00:17:07] Dot Kelly on some of her favorite theater roles

[00:17:52] Dot Kelly on tap dancing in the rain

[00:19:33] Dot Kelly on performing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

[00:22:14] Dot Kelly on preparing to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

[00:25:27] Dot Kelly on the audition process for "Funny Girl"

[00:28:43] Dot Kelly on her role in "Funny Girl"

[00:29:33] Dot Kelly on her casemates in "Funny Girl" including Katerina McCrimmon and Melissa Manchester

[00:31:31] Dot Kelly on the crew of "Funny Girl"

[00:32:36] Dot Kelly on the "Funny Girl" rehearsal process

[00:33:48] Dot Kelly on getting married during rehearsals

[00:35:57] Dot Kelly on what its like backstage at a "Funny Girl" performance

[00:38:27] Dot Kelly on her "Funny Girl" costume changes

[00:39:47] Dot Kelly on what it's like being on the road and do you travel tips

[00:41:29] Dot Kelly on her favorite "Funny Girl" moment and best food she's had on tour

[00:43:11] Dot Kelly on being an event specialist

[00:45:33] Dot Kelly on being an event planning success story

[00:47:31] Dot Kelly on some of the important female figures in her life

[00:49:53] Dot Kelly on how the pageants is misunderstood

[00:52:40] Dot Kelly on a lesson that she's learned during her journey so far that really sticks with her

[00:53:59] Dot Kelly on what is her dream for herself and her dream for women



Passionistas: Hi, we're sisters, Amy and Nancy Harrington, founders of The Passionistas Project. We've created an inclusive sisterhood where passion driven women come to get support, find their purpose, and feel empowered to transform their lives and change the world.


On every episode, we discuss the unique ways in which each woman is following her passions, talk about how she defines success, and explore her path to breaking down the barriers that women too often face.


Today, we're talking with Dot Kelly, who is currently performing in the National Touring Company of the musical "Funny Girl." The show will be at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles through Sunday, April 28th, and then moves to the Sagerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from May 28th to June 9th, before traveling across the country through the end of April 2025.


Dot is a former Miss Virginia with the Miss America organization. She's traveled thousands of miles promoting cultural diversity awareness education with the Virginia Alcoholic and Beverage Coalition's Youth Education Initiative, highlighting alcohol abuse prevention and youth leadership.


She's a creative and versatile professional who combines her expertise in event planning and performing arts to deliver unforgettable experiences for diverse audiences and clients.

She holds a master's degree in performing arts leadership and management and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Shenandoah University. As an Event Specialist at ESP Creative, she's played a pivotal role in curating and executing memorable events, including NBC's SNL Wrap Party, Baldor Food Group's Holiday Event, and several private events both nationally and internationally.


She is skilled in creating event concepts, discussing event details with clients, securing venue, catering and other services, and preparing budgets. So we are very pleased to welcome Dot Kelly to the show.


Dot: Thank you. Thank you guys so much for having me.


Passionistas: We're so excited. We always love to find out first and foremost from our, our guests, um, what are you most passionate about?


Dot: I think I'm most passionate about telling stories. Uh, I, I am an artist in so many different ways and I love engaging my creativity in anything I do. And whether it's performing or, um, creating artwork on my own or curating events, um, with ESP, I, I always have such a kick or I get such a kick out of, um, making memories and, and telling stories to folks.


Passionistas: So where does that come from? Is that something when you were a kid that you started off in kind of a creative environment or where did your love for creativity come from?


Dot: I, like many, started dancing when I was four years old and I think that's where it started. Uh, I, I fell in love with tap dance. I think the first time I ever saw, um, any live performance was just watching the Olympics and watching ice skating of all things.

And that made me fall in love. Um, there was one particular performer, Michelle Kwan, uh, who's very well known, um, that I saw on the screen and was like, wow, she's so beautiful. Like I want to be able to perform for thousands and thousands of people like her. Uh, so then I begged my parents to throw me into the dance classes and, and. Then, I mean, that's, that's where it began.


Passionistas: Love Michelle Kwan, one of my favorites. Um, so, so tell us more then, then what happens? You, you get into dance classes. Did you perform as a kid? Did you do theater? Um, what was the progression?


Dot: I, I performed quite a bit. Um, I. I moved up and so I started doing like the annual recital every year and then I elevated to the company that competed at dance competitions.


So if you watch "Dance Moms," I grew up in that environment of going to a competition. We didn't do one every single weekend, but we did one like every couple of months or so and we had a number of routines that we did. And it's funny, I actually have a cute little "Funny Girl" anecdote to throw in here as well.


But, um, one of my first solos that I did growing up, uh, was Ironically too, I'm the greatest star from our show "Funny Girl." Um, my dance teacher at the time, Miss Katie, had chosen this for me. She was like, you just have so much energy, uh, you have such a gorgeous smile. Like this is going to be the perfect number for you.


So I would go on stage with my little red fan and Who knew that years later I'd be doing this, this spectacular show, uh, but I, I think the creation part of it came more into play when I was in college. Uh, I went to Shenandoah University and our dance program has a specific, uh, set of a curriculum that's focused on choreography.


That's when I realized that I wanted to make a profession out of it. I'd always loved like just creating art on my own, uh, growing up, but definitely it was more realized, uh, as I got older.


Passionistas: That's so cool. Did, uh, did your teacher ever find out that you're in the touring company of "Funny Girl?"


Dot: She was the first person I texted.


Passionistas: What did she say?


Dot: After I got the call, uh, she was just over the moon. I haven't spoken to her in years cause like it's, it's just been so long. Um, and she ended up moving to dance studios, so I didn't see her, but I still have her number. Uh, so I texted her, she was over the moon. Uh, and I believe she's going to try to come out and see the show when we are at the Kennedy Center.


Um, I'm from Virginia, so it's closer to, uh, the Virginia area.


Passionistas: Wow, that's so amazing to get to see you perform at the Kennedy Center.


Dot: It's very full circle. Definitely a dream come true.


Passionistas: Tell us a little bit about how you started to get into pageants.


Dot: Yes, uh, it was a self motivated journey. Uh, when I, I've been around pageants my entire life. I had met a couple of Miss Virginias because my, my dance, one of my dance teachers growing up had an affiliation with the Miss Virginia organization. So she'd bring in Miss Virginias who, and they would, she would sign autograph cards and, you know, we would get to chat with her, uh, growing up. So I had exposure to it.


But I didn't have the motivation to do it until I was 16. I had a conversation with a friend. Who was like, duh, you'd be perfect for this. Uh, you should really look into it. You have a talent already. It's just good leadership, skill building, and it's all focused on community service. And I asked my parents, I was like, can I enter a pageant?


Uh, they, they had told me no, um, but determined. I kept asking, kept asking, kept asking. And then I entered my first pageant at 16. I. Um, my mom and I went out to find a dress. I prepared the talent myself and, and went on stage and And that was the beginning of the journey. Um, I didn't end up winning that pageant.


I got a runner up title position, which I, I, there's a story that I can connect with for later in my life. Um, But it was such a good experience and ironically the girl who did one had another opportunity over the summer and so her spot became open and a couple of weeks later I got a call asking if I wanted to take over her local title and then I got to compete at Miss Virginia for the first time.


Passionistas: That's amazing. And so in 2019, you were actually named Miss Virginia. And so tell us what your duties were and what that entails when you're Miss Virginia.


Dot: Miss Virginia is such a special opportunity and it really holds like a good place in my heart. It was a year long opportunity where Miss Virginia serves as the keynote speaker and ambassador for the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Coalition and they are Virginia's chapter for beverage control and essentially it was my job to go throughout schools and teach kids the importance of making healthy choices and saying no to drugs and alcohol.


So that was one of my primary responsibilities as Miss Virginia, but I also championed my own personal cause, which was cultural diversity awareness as a Korean American. I got to share my story, um, just growing up and some of the adversities I'd faced. Um, and then I, at the end of my presentation, I would teach kids to be kind and would teach them how to say thank you in seven different languages to give them the exposure of experiencing different cultures and different types of people.


Um, so the school, Miss Virginia School Tour was powered by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Coalition. And so I traveled to about 50 plus schools, both virtually and non virtually because I was Miss Virginia during the pandemic. And I got to do a lot of fun events as well. Um, it was one of the most rewarding periods of my life and it was quite magical in a lot of ways.


Passionistas: You were saying that you, your earlier, your first experience in the pageant, you had a runner up situation and that that would tie into something later. Can you talk about that?


Dot: Yes. So I didn't traditionally win the title of Miss Virginia, very, very similarly to how I won that local title. When I was a teenager, I, I competed at Miss Virginia for a couple of years, uh, would make top five, would win talent, um, and then it was 2019, that was the last year I competed, I ended up getting first runner up to this phenomenal woman, young woman named Camille Schrier.


Camille Schreier ended up competing at Miss America and she won. And so I went to Atlantic City. I watched her to cheer her on. And that night, our, the Miss Virginia organization's executive director, MC, came up to me and said, Hey, there's a job opening. Uh, so it's, it's very interesting that that happened twice, uh, to me in my life. And, and so then that night I accepted the title of Miss Virginia and the rest is history.


Passionistas: You don't happen to be an understudy and "Funny Girl", are you?


Dot: It does seem it is a very lucky circumstance.


Passionistas: Well, keep it in mind for your next shows.


Dot: Thank you.


Passionistas: Um, but you, you mentioned COVID, so how did COVID impact your reign?


Dot: Oh, I was only supposed to have five months as Miss Virginia. And with COVID happening, the Miss America organization sent out a huge email blast saying that all state pageants were canceled for 2020, um, as soon as the world shut down.

I was in the middle of my school tour, so I had to pack up everything. I actually had three schools that I was supposed to attend in Northern Virginia that I had driven up for, and I got in my car and I went back home. Um, and. What turned from five months became a year and a half, and, uh, building came with, like, some cool opportunities.


I got to work, uh, with the Virginia ABC to build an online curriculum, and to do, bring, like, the school to Zoom classrooms, which was pretty cool. Um, but it definitely, I became the shortest Miss Virginia to the longest reigning Miss Virginia, um, because of the pandemic.


Passionistas: So, some good things came out of COVID for sure.


Dot: It did, it did. It was a pretty interesting time.


Passionistas: That's great. Um, you mentioned that cultural diversity education is a really important topic to you and that it's, it became important based on your own experiences growing up. So can you talk about some of those experiences and why that topic matters so much to you?


Dot: Absolutely. Um, so I grew up with, um, my dad was in the military and my mom is Korean and I grew up with such a beautiful blend of cultures growing up, but it. It did come with some challenges. Um, I would usually be the only Asian woman in spaces, whether it was school, whether it was dance. Uh, and so it was interesting growing up.

Um, I would have kids pick on me and say that my food smelled weird when my mom would make me dishes and, and just being just plain outright mean. Um, so I had to grow up with a lot of resilience. And then there was a huge turning point in high school. Uh, around the same time that I decided to enter the, um, the pageant world, but I had a teacher, um, I turned in an assignment and I had a teacher look at the assignment.


She was handing back papers and she had looked at my paper and she stopped me in front of the entire class and was like, oh, you know, your, your writing is just so horrible or something along the lines of that. Um, it reminds me of my cultural exchange students. How long have you been in this country? And that was such a pivotal moment.


I didn't know what to say. I could feel my body freeze up because I had grown up in Virginia my entire life. And it was such a raw question to ask. And it was in front of my entire peers and we, it was, it was a very moment. I remember walking out and taking a minute and having a moment. Then I realized that that moment didn't define who I was and maybe she just didn't know.


I'm sure she didn't have any mal intention behind that question, uh, but maybe she didn't know. And it encouraged me to provide education, to be a smiling face that people can come up to, to ask questions about my culture, to be strong and to be the representation that I didn't necessarily see when I was growing up.


Um, I didn't see many. Asian American women highlighted, um, when I was a kid. So I wanted to be that and I wanted to embody that. And it's, it's in every single thing that I do, I think about the next young little Asian American or Korean American girl that I meet. And I want to empower her to become the next leader.


I want to empower her to do something or be in spaces that she's not necessarily, um, she may be the only, the first, um, And that's, that's been my primary goal. It's something that keeps me up at night.


Passionistas: Oh, that's incredible. And so you went on to become, I believe it was the second Asian Miss Virginia. Is that correct? And how did that make you feel?


Dot: It was. It was amazing. Um, the first Asian American Miss Virginia Michelle Kang, she was Miss Virginia in 1996. So there had been a 20 year period where we didn't have a representation of Asian descent. Uh, when I would go out to events, I would look for that one Asian American kid in the classroom.


And, and just to be the embodiment of a leader was really something. Thank you. Incredible. Um, and, and it was an opportunity that I would never take for granted and it was great.


Passionistas: Do you find that there are more role models for kids now in your community in television and film, or do you feel like that's still an area where there needs to be more, uh, more done?


Dot: I, I think that we, with, with There are many, um, leaders that are rising up in the entertainment industry in particular. Uh, just the success that Crazy Rich Asians had. There's so many Asian led stories now, Asian comedians. Um, so I think that there is a huge rise, um, in just interest and, you know, But I do see that there is a lot of space to grow, um, at least in the musical theater industry.


I still find myself being the only Asian American woman going into auditions or going into Broadway calls. And, um, it can be a little daunting and sometimes it adds a little bit to the pressure. Uh, but again, I'm happy to break down those barriers and be in those spaces. And it's always nice to meet people, um, within my community as well, at least in New York City, um, who are also championing that.


So I think there's a lot, we still have, you know, some distance to go, but we've definitely made a lot of progress and it's really beautiful thing to see.


Passionistas: So let's, let's talk a little bit more about your theater work. So you, um, worked as a choreographer and a performer in a number of productions at theater companies in Ohio and Mississippi. What are some of your favorite roles and experiences as a performer in those settings?


Dot: "Funny Girl" has to be the highlight, but I will say a close second. I recently worked a contract at a Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine. It was one of the the most Memorable experiences of my life because Ogunquit is just such a special community.


Um, the food, the people, there was just such an energy there. Uh, so spending, um, a week in June, uh, doing such an iconic show, like singing in the rain and tap dancing with live rain on the stage, uh, was definitely one of the highlights of my career.


Passionistas: That must have been so cool. What were the challenges of tap dancing in the rain?


Dot: Well, you couldn't slip. Yeah. But it was, they had a rain deck on stage that the team, the creative team had built. And so every single night, this deck would be pushed out for the finale for that final singing in the rain number. Um, it would be pushed out onto the stage and then they would pump water from another source, like, it was like tons and tons of water, um, into the theater and it would rain every single night.


Uh, so it definitely was a challenge. There were moments where we had to be super cognizant of puddles and slippage, but our team was just so great there that they made sure that they had a special surface on the floor that was a nonstick surface. Um, and. Made sure that we were safe every single night.


We performed that show very similarly to "Funny Girl" eight times a week. Uh, and it was, it was pretty cool to bring that rain deck out every single night to make it rain on stage.


Passionistas: And so they put the singing in the rain number at the end of the show. So that was the last thing.


Dot: They had the solo in, in the middle of the show and that closed out the intermission, but they had a big finale number where the entire ensemble came on stage and we danced in the rain as well. So there were two moments in the show. It was, it was very fun.


Passionistas: That's really great. I love theater. That's amazing. Um, so you also


Dot: It's quite magical. Yeah, it really is.


Passionistas: So, um, you also had a really pretty memorable experience, I think, performing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and there was also another "Funny Girl" tie in there, so tell us a little bit about that.


Dot: It's not how many times "Funny Girls" popped into my life. Um, it really, when I got the call for this, it was like, wow, this is really meant to be. Uh, so I got invited to perform at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was my second time performing in the parade. And we were told that a Broadway show is going to be a part of the intro of the parade.


So you're going to do a little choreography and, um, you'll do it in your costumes and we're just going to do a rehearsal. Uh, so we ended up finding out that it was "Funny Girl." And so we got that information in advance, and I remember just being so excited, and because the opening of the parade was to the song, "Don't Rain On My Parade."


And so, Lea Michele was set to, to burst through the, the TV and sing this anthem, and it would kick off the parade, and, I remember waking up at 4 a. m. in the morning, putting on, I have this beautiful costume on because I was a Macy's starlet, um, and we would walk over to the parade route, and I remember seeing everyone in their costumes that I now get to wear in the show, and I thought, wow, wouldn't it be cool to be in a Broadway show one day?


And I got to meet the choreographer, Eleanor Scott, um, her associate choreographer, Jeffrey, and we worked with them. They gave us a little bit of choreography and ironically enough, everyone knows the show "Funny Girl." I think I was the only one out of the performers who knew the entire song. Um, so as we were performing or like re like rehearsing the choreography, I was screaming the song, um, just to help guide everyone.

And then when it came time for the parade to actually happen. It was like everything in the world made sense. I could just see the sun shining like through the trees and I was breathing in the moment. Lea Michele was like right next to me singing her face off and it was one of the coolest moments of my life and I'll never forget it.


Passionistas: Okay, I've had like chills from head to toe for like the last 10 minutes of this interview. It's so cool. I mean, what an exciting thing and we have to go back now and find the performance and watch it and look for your face. Um, I'm also just curious, like, what is, What is it like to get ready for the Macy's Day Parade, like the rehearsals and stuff leading up to it, and then what is that morning, that Thanksgiving morning like?

It must be so exciting.


Dot: We usually only have one rehearsal leading up to the parade and we'll do it on the parade route a couple days before. So we'll go, I went, um, the past few times I've done it, I've gone at like 7pm, we'll go to the Macy's building. We'll check and make sure that the costumes are fitted just right.


And then we'll go down to the parade route and we'll either learn choreography or we'll watch. It's been different every time, but we do something at the parade route and then we'll practice walking. So after we did that opening number with Funny Girl, then we walked the entire route of the parade with the Tom the Turkey float.


Um, so we would practice. We had a little bit of choreography. And with that walk, um, about like three or four different routines that we would switch through. Like, let's do routine A. It has, like, a couple of arms. Let's do routine B. It has a couple of hips. Let's do routine C. We have interchanging patterns, um, and our choreographer would scream out the, uh, The different routines that we were doing throughout the route, so we would know, okay, we're doing A, we're doing B, we're doing C.


So that's, that's the pre Thanksgiving day, and then the actual day itself, uh, wake up at 4 a. m., do my makeup before I go. I was living in Queens, uh, two years ago for the parade. Um, so I would hop on the Metro or take an Uber. I've done both, uh, to the parade route to the beginning. And then, it's, it's a little bit of waiting.


You get to see a couple celebrities walking around. You get to see, um, some major news affiliate corresponders talking into the camera. You see the floats starting to get set up. There's so many people. There's a lot of people in costumes. And then you just, I, I personally reviewed. um, as we were waiting for the clock to begin and then You, we got into our positions and then immediately it was like, okay, we have one take, um, to, to film this live with NBC.


So make sure that you do it right and you do it and you're ready and you have a big smile on your face. Um, so that's kind of the moments leading up to the parade. And then we did the opening, we walked the entire route, and then I got to go home to my family and eat some amazing food.


Passionistas: That's incredible. Just incredible. No pressure. Live TV.


Dot: No, no pressure.


Passionistas: Biggest event of the year. No pressure.


Dot: The amount of people that come out for the parade too, I don't think that TV captures how many people are actually in the streets of New York City. Putting their face up to their apartment building or just in the street, but it's, it's an incredible amount of people.

Um, like thousands and thousands of people show up.


Passionistas: Yeah. Yeah. We went one year and it was amazing how many people were there. It was just incredible. It's such a fun experience. I can't even imagine being in the parade. It was so much fun just watching it. Let's talk a little bit about "Funny Girl." Tell us about your audition process and getting the role.


Dot: Yes, uh, so I auditioned twice. First for the Broadway production and then the second for the national tour. Um, the first time I auditioned for the Broadway production, it was super fun. I, I knew that the show had tap dancing in it and that's it. That s personally my favorite style of dance, uh, so I was really excited and I remember going in and learning and walking out of the room and I felt good, but I didn t feel great.


I feel like I did a good job, um, nailing down the dance choreography, but I knew I needed some work on my acting and my voice. So, with that in mind, um, I m very much a Practice until it's perfect type of person, um, where I love taking class. I love doing self work, whether it's, um, training with different teachers and, and doing as much as I can with a little bit of time, um, with the time that I had.


And so I did a little bit of homework and then I got the invite a year after for the national tour, uh, call. And so. I took what I learned from the beginning and I kind of rehearsed it on my own a little bit. I worked with an acting coach. I worked with a voice coach, um, just to perfect my songs. And then I went and did the first audition.


Um, I was told by my agent after that audition that I got a callback for the tour. And so I had a little bit of time before I had to go to that callback and I actually bought a ticket. It was the very, very, very last seat. Um, in the back of the theater, and I saw Funny Girl on Broadway, and I had a little notebook in my hand, and it was literally, like, in the back of the mezzanine, in the darkest corner, um, scribbling down notes, just to look at the different tracks, see, you know, What my role could be.


If I was chosen as an ensemble member and just taking as many notes as I can. Okay. You know, she, she goes off here, this is her track. And, and so I think that definitely helped inform me and made me feel a lot more comfortable when I went into the callback room. And. I think, you know, I had a blast doing the callback, had a great time singing, uh, did a little acting side, and then a couple weeks later I got a phone call from my agent telling me that I booked the show, or I was in the process of booking the show, um, and I was actually standing right next to my dance teacher, one of my teachers in New York City at the time, and she gave me a big hug and I fell to the floor, and It was, it was a really, really, really cool moment, but it was definitely a journey.


Passionistas: Wow. How long a period of time was that from that first audition to getting the role?


Dot: From that very first audition that I, um, that I didn't walk away from feeling great from, that was about like a year and a half process.


Passionistas: Wow. Wow.


Dot: So I had auditioned in 2022, and then 2023, I had come back for the tour audition.


Passionistas: That's amazing. So what role did you get? Tell us about what you do in the show.


Dot: I am a member of the ensemble, so I wear quite a few hats, um, painting the different moments of Fanny Brice's life, as I like to say. I play a very, um, short character role called Maude, and she comes in in a dressing room scene and basically moves things along, um, with a little bit of wit and a little bit of humor.


Uh, and I, I, just the show, every single night, it's such an honor to be a member of the ensemble. We get to do the coolest choreography. I get to tap dance my face off every single night. And I have the joy of performing with some of the greatest and most talented performers I've ever met, um, every single night.


So that's kind of my role in a nutshell.


Passionistas: So tell us about those performers. You work with Katerina McCrimmon and Melissa Manchester. Talk to us about the cast.


Dot: Yes. Well, first of all. Katerina McCrimmon is a force to be reckoned with. She has one of those once in a lifetime voices that makes you stop and drop everything.

And even though I've heard her sing "Don't Rain on My Parade" every night, music that makes me dance every single night for like 200 shows, I never get tired of it because she puts her entire um being into what she does and it's just so evident and she also has an incredible talent as well um and on top of that she's just a nice person and that's that's something that is going to carry her so far in this industry she's just a nice down to earth warm person um and it's it's just been really a treat to get to know her to become friends with her and um to support her every night in the show and then Melissa Manchester, Grammy Award winning Melissa Manchester, it's an honor to, to be able to share the stage with her every night.


And she is also, um, just one of the kindest people I've met and is, is very open and warm and it's just amazing. Just, you look back at some of her most famous performances and, and just the moment that she won her Grammy and you go, wow, like, I'm really like, With some, some amazing, incredibly talented people, um, in the show.


And I gotta shout out, you know, my members of the ensemble. We, we really keep it down and we have a good time every night. Um, so yeah, I mean, blessed with a beautiful and amazing cast and crew for the show.


Passionistas: Talk about the, the crew. Talk about some of the people behind the scenes. You were talking about the amazing choreography and that kind of stuff. Talk about the behind the scenes team that sometimes doesn't get the recognition they deserve on a production like this.


Dot: Keep us laughing. Um, a fun fact about our show is, uh, we, we have some witty people backstage. We actually have a line of ducks behind our, um, our set, uh, that I putz around with, um, but the people, oh my goodness.


There are just so many names. Um, just, we have such an incredibly gifted team. Um, Katie, Sarah with props. They, they keep the show going. They make sure that things are in order for every single performance. Um, our stage managers. are, are just spectacular making all the calls for the show. Um, the wig team, we have a costume team.


Um, there are just so many people who are just so vital to making sure that the show happens. Um, and they keep us laughing the entire night. And I, I'm just, again, blessed, blessed to, to be able to like be with these people.


Passionistas: So what's the rehearsal process like for a big, big touring show like this?


Dot: We had about two weeks of rehearsal to learn the choreography of the show, and to learn all of our lines, and then we had a week of tech rehearsal, um, which ironically at that time I was also getting married during tech rehearsal, so that's a very fuzzy part of my life, um, but we teched the show in Providence, Rhode Island, and Rhode Island.

After it's about three weeks of rehearsal, the show is ready to go. It's done. Um, we work with a crazy caliber of people who are able to like learn quickly, um, and do it well. And so then the only other rehearsals that we'll have throughout this process are kind of maintenance rehearsals and understudy rehearsals.


So if someone Understudying a role, there will be a day in the week where like, people will come to the theater early and they'll get to do that part a couple of times, um, and then we'll do maintenance rehearsals where everyone, all hands on deck, comes and we just kind of rehearse the show, clean up a couple of things like, oh, like a shoulder is a little off here, let's make sure that we're on a number, um, that's basically the rehearsal process in a nutshell.


Passionistas: That's so much work. It's amazing. Um, you mentioned getting married and we were going to ask you about that because we, we noticed that online. So how did you juggle? A wedding and tech rehearsals and did you get a honeymoon?


Dot: I make a joke that the tour is my honeymoon. Um, it, it was a very blurry part of my life because there were a lot of moving parts and pieces and I really credit, um, my other job and my other role at ESP for giving me a foundation of just knowing.


What I needed, um, how to make the day successful, coordinating with vendors, coordinating with my venue. Um, so those first two weeks of “Funny Girl” rehearsal, I was diligently on my laptop, um, during lunch breaks, just doing the final details and touches for the wedding. And then, um, I took two days to fly down to Virginia, do my wedding, and then head right back up to Providence to continue checking the show.


And. I have to give a lot of credit to my husband because he kept me so sane in the moments of stress or in the moments of, of doubt that, you know, I have a lot on my plate. How can I do this? He was just such an amazing support system with, for me. And I've been very lucky. He's actually gotten to come out on tour, um, for about 80 percent of the cities, um, and work remotely.


And, and get to travel this beautiful country and see all these amazing things with me. So I give him a lot of credit because he truly is, is one of my greatest support systems.


Passionistas: That's very cool. Well, that's like a nice long extended honeymoon.


Dot: Yes. And we actually took our two dogs with us as well. So all right. Tell my family and friends that we're a traveling circus.


Passionistas: That's awesome. Like Will Rogers family. Um, so try to describe to us what it's like backstage at a big show like this. I don't think anyone can really picture it.


Dot: Hmm. So backstage in like a more recent picture of it. The show is so set that we, we come in at half hour before the show and, um, there's like a sense of calm just because we've done this show every single night for, um, 200, almost 250 shows now.

And, and you go to your station, you, um, I put on my makeup, I get my wig prep done, um, I'll go and get my wig on, and then we'll wait until they call places. Um, so then we'll head backstage from our dressing room areas and it's It was almost like a sense of calm before the storm. Um, everyone's slowly getting ready.


Um, everyone's doing their maintenance, whether it's stretching. Um, you see, uh, the backstage hands moving props or set pieces and just having them in place. And then we'll hear the overture begin to play. And usually there's a couple of us that stand on stage. Um, I, I wouldn't say a couple, a good handful of us that stand on stage.


And once we hear the overture, Boom, then it becomes a dance party. Um, I, for me personally, it helps me get any energy that I have out or at least warms up my body a little bit. Um, we'll all chat a little bit, we'll all wiggle a little bit, we'll all, if, if there is a swing going on for a new role, an understudy going on for a new role, we'll circle up.


And, uh, there, there's a specific point in the music of the overture. Where we'll jump and we'll wish them like all of the good energy, all of the greatest luck, and then we'll go to our spots for places. Um, and then the show will begin. So that's just kind of a little snapshot of what half hour leading up to the beginning of a show for "Funny Girl" is like.


Um, and it's pretty magical and it's fun every single night.


Passionistas: Wow, I'm gonna experience an overture at a musical much differently now. Picturing what must be going on.


Dot: If you come to our show, just imagine a bunch of people in costumes having a little mini. Morale dance party backstage.


Passionistas: I love it. That's so cool.


Um, and do you have a ton of costume changes during the show? And what are those? Are they like quick changes or anything like that?


Dot: Yes, I have many costume changes. Um, I, I don't know the exact number, but we rotate through quite a few costumes. And our costumes, by the way, are designed by Susan Helferty.


Uh, when I was growing up, I was a big Wicked fan, and she designed the costumes for “Wicked,” so to be able to put on her incredibly detailed and beautiful costumes, and they have like a sense of whimsy about them too, uh, every night is really, really a treat, and she was so nice to me. She actually gave us, um, an original sketch, every single member of the cast, an individual sketch of one of our costumes.


Um, and I have my mod costume framed up in my apartment in a very special frame, um, because it's one of the coolest things I've ever been gifted.


Passionistas: Goosebumps again. I just got goosebumps again.

That is so cool. So now you said 200 something performances you've already done and the tour goes for another year, right? Is that correct?


Dot: Yes, the tour will continue on into 2025.


Passionistas: What's it like being on the road and do you have any travel tips for our listeners?


Dot: Oh, uh, wow. I, I feel like I've had a very unique perspective.

I've driven uh, most of the tour and I'll fly with the company, um, on occasion as well. Um, but Pack Light, uh, Carrie, Only the essentials. Um, I, I'm the type of person who thinks through every single thing that I pack, um, and that really helps me. Uh, our tour usually has week long runs. Um, our run here in L.A. is very different, um, from what we usually do, but we'll usually only be in a city for about a week. Um, so on Mondays we'll do our Trader Joe's runs. I carry this portable cooking pot with me that you can plug into the wall so I have access to like, Cooking, um, and, and yeah, it's just really being on top of, um, what your needs are, knowing how to pack light, and, and trying to make as many healthy choices as possible, because it's, it's really hard when you don't have a lot of time to, to cook or get into a routine.


Um, so it's always good to, a good reminder to take care of yourself when you're on the road, because it is exhausting, and it's strenuous, and, um, it is long hours. But yeah, it's a fun thing. I've gotten to see some of the coolest parts of the country on tour, um, and eaten the best food ever. It's been really a treat.


Passionistas: That's awesome. So given how many amazing experiences you've already had, um, two part question, which is, do you have a favorite moment of your run in "Funny Girl" so far? And two is, what is the best thing you've eaten on the road?


Dot: Oh, I, hmm, that's a good question. I will say here in LA when we opened, um, just two weeks ago, we had the best audience that I have ever experienced.

Um, we just had so much energy. And then, just not even a week after, like, feeling all of the love, we had a student matinee, and when I tell you that kids are really into theater, they're really into theater, because they would laugh at moments during the show that, or they would smile at moments, or they'd clap, or they'd, they'd get really invested in the story and moments that, um, we weren't used to for, like, traditional audiences.


Um, so that student matinee last week was definitely. One of my favorite moments ever as a performer because those kids just made us feel like the coolest people in the entire world. Um, and then food. Ooh, I have so many things. I've really have eaten, um, around the country. And there is a barbecue spot in Memphis that I keep thinking of.


Um, and it like just Memphis had some of the best barbecue and I hit up a couple of places too. Um, and just, it was so good. Um, so that definitely has to be my favorite food, anything in the city.


Passionistas: That sounds delicious. Love it. So in addition to performing, you also work, um, as an event specialist. So tell us a little bit about that side of your career.


Dot: Yeah, so performing is my first passion. And then through my time in New York City, when I moved, I, um, I got my master's degree in performing arts leadership. And in that training, I was also trained in how to manage events and fundraisers. So when I moved up to New York City, I was interested in a career, um, in that realm.

And I came across my current company, ESPN. Be creative, and, I fell in love with, you know, the types and the caliber of events that they do. Um, so, I signed on, I became an events specialist. I've been with the company for about three years now. Um, and it's, it's It tickles the right part of my brain. I get to be really creative, um, whether we're working for private clients or whether we're working for corporate clients.


Uh, so I do my work with ESP, um, like nine to five and then, um, five to nine I'll do the show roughly. Uh, so it's, it's definitely required me to have a lot of work life balance, uh, but it's, it's still been really cool that, um, I've been allowed to take it on the road, and my boss, his wife was a Broadway performer, he was a, um, a, a touring performer as well, I think he toured internationally, uh, so he understands, uh, the current situation I'm in, and he's just been incredibly understanding, and we've gotten to plan really cool events in Antigua, Um, we recently did a wedding in Jupiter, Florida, uh, which I flew down for for a weekend to do, and then I came back to find a girl.


Um, and it means a lot to me because, uh, whether you're doing a wedding, whether you're doing a bat mitzvah, a bar mitzvah, or you're doing a corporate event fundraiser for a non profit organization that's in need of support, You're creating moments and memories for people and you create the best days of their life.


And so that's, that's something that I think about every time I, I clock in and I really enjoy

what I do.


Passionistas: Sounds like it. I can tell that you talk about that with as much enthusiasm as you do when you talk about performing. That's cool. Um, is there one event that stands out to you as one you're particularly proud of?


Dot: We did a wedding, um, in May. And I knew, had a really personal connection with the bride because I was also engaged. So I understood, you know, just the, the emotional, um, toll that it takes to plan a wedding. And it's a very vulnerable place, but it's, you know, also you're planning the best day of your life, but there's a lot of pressures.

Um, so it was really wonderful to connect with her and then to be there as her day of, or her special day. Um, we did the wedding in Braper and Country Club up in Westchester, New York, and to just be there and watch the evolution of her day from like feeling the nerves to realizing, you know, oh, this is the best day of my life and I get to spend it with my person forever and also problem solving.


I really enjoy problem solving. Now her dress had ripped so I had gotten out my my little sewing thread and stitched her dress up or her friend accidentally fell and and got her dress wet so I helped her friend and cleaned her up. It was almost like a 90s movie of like fixing her hair and then sending her back out onto the dance floor.


Um, so it, I love the problem solving part of it, but that specific event was just really impactful. And then just to see the gratitude that she had after for, um, everything I had done to help out with the event, it was just really, really rewarding. Um, and I got to help her sister's wedding too. So it was really nice to stay connected with her family as well.


Passionistas: Oh, that's very cool. It's just like doing a show, doing a wedding.


Dot: It's exactly like doing a show. I think that's why I like it so much. Yeah. Yeah. That's very cool. Yeah. So it's, it's a lot of preparation for a big event and it has a lot of reward. It's exactly like performing on stage.


Passionistas: So let's talk a little bit about, um, women. Who are some of the important female figures in your life growing up?


Dot: Michelle Kwan was definitely the, the person who inspired me to perform. Um, I also am a huge fan of the leadership work that she does, um, as the U. S. Ambassador of Belize. Um, my dad actually got to meet her one, um, because my dad works, um, worked for the U.S. government. He recently retired. Um, so, but he got to meet her. So she's number one. Um, I look up to people like Vera Wang who, you know, are incredible business women, um, who've created their own brand. Um, there, there are so many women that I, I look up to, and a lot of them actually come from the Miss America organization.


Um, being involved at such a young age while I was still in college was really instrumental to me. Nicole Johnson, uh, Miss America who championed diabetes. There are so many names, um, of Savvy Shields, she was also an artist, uh, she was a Miss America in 2017. They were all women that I really, really look up to and they helped really guide my career and, um, empowered me to go after what, what I, you know, was interested in pursuing in my life and I give them a lot of credit.


And then actually the most important woman in my life is my mom. Um, it's a very, very oftentimes answer, but. My mom has gone through a lot of hardship in her life. Um, she's a first generation, um, Korean to, to gain her citizenship. And, um, it came with a lot of challenges. But she's also one of the strongest women I know.


Uh, and, and I love her and she's supported me throughout this journey. And that's, that's a blessing that I carry with me and everything I do.


Passionistas: Well, they must be so proud of you. I mean, look at what you're doing. It's, you know, your parents journey. Being complicated, your mom's journey being complicated has led you to have these opportunities. So I would imagine they're very proud of you.


Dot: I'd like to think so. They mean the world. Um, they mean the world to me.


Passionistas: That's great. That's so great. Um, so, you know, it's interesting that you talk about the pageants and, and I think Nancy and I grew up in a generation where pageants were something completely different than they are now.


They were really beauty pageants. So what would you say about pageants for people that don't necessarily understand how they've evolved?


Dot: The opportunities that I got to experience when I was in the Miss Virginia organization, whether it's speaking in front of thousands of people or Volunteering, um, I was one of the volunteers that helped out with Virginia's first COVID vaccination clinic, or one of the first, um, in Virginia during COVID.


There's a philanthropic aspect to it that really, for young women, teaches them valuable skills of leadership and communication and, and empathy of, of all things. Um, so I think that there's a lot of value in that and. That's honestly why I personally gravitated towards that. Sure, the tiaras and the dresses were fun.


Um, and it's, it's great to dress up and, and feel, feel your most confident self. However, it was the people that I got to meet along the way, and it was the kids that I got to work with. To set that next generation up for success. And those were the things that attracted me the most because when I was in high school, I wasn't necessarily the best speaker.


I would freeze up during, during English class when I had to present and I knew that was a weakness of mine. So there's just so many valuable skills that you can gain from it and so many life experiences. And I feel like I have a second family because of my time in pageants of an amazing community of people all over the commonwealth of Virginia of people.

People who just dedicate their time to empowering women and creating scholarships for them. Um, that's another aspect too, that's, that's really important is the scholarship part of it. Um, during my time with the Miss Virginia organization, just even competing, not even winning the title, I accrued over 25, 000 in scholarships to continue my education at Shenandoah University, and that is, is amazing.


Incredible, um, and it's an incredible opportunity for any young woman, um, who has an interest in furthering their education. And that was, that was something that the Miss America organization specifically highlights, empowers, champions. Um, so I was, I was very lucky to be a recipient of those scholarships and, um, they, they helped me down the path in the life that I have now.


Passionistas: Wow, that's really incredible. It's great to hear that about the pageants. I don't think people, I don't think most people really realize that. So, I also love how you, several times throughout this interview, you have said, identify a weakness that you've had and then you've figured out how to change that.


And I love that about you. That's a very, very cool thing. Um, is there one lesson that you've learned during your journey so far that really sticks with you?


Dot: Always be a learner. I, I think that the thing I've never been the most talented person in the room. I have never been the best person in the room, but.

I think the most valuable asset that I have is that I'm always interested in learning and I'm always interested in finding spaces where I'm not necessarily the best and, and either working on it or trying something new. Just to continue to gain different experiences as a performer, that's been vital to, I, I believe, my, my, my success, um, and, and I just encourage all young performers, if there's a area that you don't feel comfortable in, feel Take that class if you have the, um, the financial opportunity to, or do something new or turn on that YouTube video, just constantly continue absorbing, um, so much information in the world and always have an open mind and an open heart to different perspectives and different, um, different people's stories that you meet, um, because when you tune into those, then you'll learn more about yourself and you'll learn more about the world around you.


Passionistas: So we have one last two part question, which is, what is your dream for yourself and what is your dream for women?


Dot: I want to be on Broadway one day, and I'm, I'm really, like, it has always been a dream of mine, and I, at one point in my life, I was told that it wasn't a dream that I should have, um, and thankfully throughout, you know, the jobs I booked or the opportunities that I've had, it's been It's becoming more apparent to me that, you know, that's something that I can still fight for and I can still chase after and that it's not impossible. So that's, that's a personal dream of mine.


And then my dream for women is for women to stop doubting themselves. We are just as capable. We are just as qualified. And we have a story and a voice to share with the world. And, um, we need more women supporting other women. And I, I hope and dream that we continue that through, through the next generations of women that come after us.


Passionistas: Well, that was beautiful and the perfect way to end the episode.


Dot: Thank you. I'm very grateful that you guys had me, um,


Passionistas: yeah, we can't thank you enough for being here. It's really been a pleasure and, um, best of luck with the show and with the rest of the tour and we will come see you when you make it to Broadway.


Dot: Thank you so much for having me, and "Funny Girl" will be at the Ahmanson until April 28th, and you can get your tickets at centertheatregroup. com.


Passionistas: Thanks for listening to The Passionistas Project. Since we're not only business partners, but best friends and real life sisters, we know how unique and truly special our situation is.


We know so many solopreneurs, activists, women seeking their purpose and more, who are out there doing it all on their own. They often tell us that they wish they had what we have, so we're creating a space for them and you to join our sisterhood, where trust, acceptance, and support are the cornerstones of our community.


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You can join us virtually and in person at storyteller events and meetups to connect with other members of the community. And you'll be able to participate in our online forums with other like-minded women and gender non-conforming, non-binary people who share your values and goals. Be sure to visit to sign up for your free membership to join our worldwide sisterhood of passion driven women who come to get support, find their purpose, and feel empowered to transform their lives and change the world. We'll be back next week with another Passionista who's defining success on her own terms and breaking down the barriers for herself and women everywhere.


Until then, stay passionate.


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