By Laurie Dietrich
Warning! Taco-crazed musical theater performers are headed this way. While in Austin, the cast of 42nd Street were introduced to Taco Cabana by San Antonio native Carrie Janell, a member of the show's famously virtuoso tap-dancing ensemble. She claims that they are now obsessed with breakfast tacos and it's hard to tell if she's more excited about a TC run or a reunion with family and friends when the show opens at the Majestic on June 1.
Janell, known locally by her last name, Hamner, which she dropped for professional reasons ("Everyone kept saying 'hammer' at auditions"), started dancing at age 10 at TJ's Dance Factory, and transferred to the North East School for the Arts from Marshall High for her senior year, determined to attempt a dance career. Her experience at NESA cemented that ambition. "Everyone there had a common passion and a common goal," she says. "I learned so much that year, I was enveloped in the world of theatre. It was the turning point."
Two years as a dance performance major at Oklahoma City University followed, and, more importantly, summer stock experience with the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. "My best learning experiences have been professional," says Janell.
Considered by many to be the quintessential Broadway musical, 42nd Street premiered in 1980 and the award-winning revival production opened in 2000. The first national tour finishes in late June, and Janell will return to New York and her sketch comedy troupe, The Mistake. In the meantime, she has enjoyed seeing the country (at 23 she's young enough to do eight shows a week and still have the energy for sight-seeing) and she's looking forward to returning to her hometown as a professional.
"One of my biggest motivators to take the job was when I found out that the tour was going through SA," she says. "I grew up watching shows at the Majestic and the cast of those shows were like stars to me. That's what I wanted to be." A dream come true and Bill Miller's Barbecue. Janell will be easy to recognize onstage - she'll be the dancer with the biggest smile. •
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