MOORHEAD — While on the road last year touring with “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” Moorhead native Becky Gulsvig stumbled upon a tiny recording studio during a three-month-long stop in Chicago. She had always wanted to record an album and decided to seize the opportunity.
The resulting disc, “Becky Gulsvig,” was released last month. It contains mainly cover songs, along with some nods to musical theater. It is for sale at Orange Records and on iTunes.
Gulsvig, an established actor on Broadway, said the album was a fun project she did for herself.
“I chose the songs for a reason,” she said. “It’s sort of like a soundtrack of my life.”
Her latest addition to that soundtrack is the recent announcement that Gulsvig is replacing Mamie Parris in Broadway’s production of “School of Rock.”
Gulsvig, who lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter Hazel, attributes much of her success to the performing art opportunities in the Fargo-Moorhead community. She participated in Trollwood Performing Arts School for three seasons, sang in church, learned to dance from Eddie and Kathy Gasper and acted in Moorhead High School’s theater program.
One of Gulsvig’s close friends and inspirations is Rebecca Meyer-Larson, the current head speech coach and musical theater director at Moorhead High School. Gulsvig was in the first musical Meyer-Larson directed at the high school, “Little Shop of Horrors.”
“Becky walked in as a freshman and grabbed one of the lead roles. I was amazed at all the power in her little body. She continues to amaze me to this day,” Meyer-Larson said.
“(Becky) is loaded with talent, of course. She has a gorgeous voice, is a terrific dancer and brings great emotional depth and honesty to every character she portrays,” Meyer-Larson said. “Add to the equation the Gulsvig work ethic, and you get the total package with Becky.”
Gulsvig graduated high school a year early to pursue an acting career in New York City.
After moving to New York, Gulsvig’s first theater role was Wendy Darling in the national tour of “Peter Pan.” She made her Broadway debut as Lou Ann in “Hairspray” and went on to play Leilani in the original cast of “Legally Blonde The Musical,” understudying the role of Elle Woods. She starred as Elle in the first national tour of “Legally Blonde.”
The opportunities only continued from there.
In 2009, Gulsvig performed as Elle Woods in the 63rd annual Tony awards. She sounds like a true Midwesterner when describing the experience, calling it “super, duper awesome,” even though it was the most nervous she’s ever been.
Gulsvig’s repertoire also includes originating Cinderella in the off-Broadway production of “Disenchanted” and Cynthia Weil in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”
Despite these achievements, Gulsvig still feels like a hometown girl.
“(Becky) has never gotten caught in the trappings of ego and success,” Meyer-Larson said. “Her humility and sense of fun make her special.”
Gulsvig and Meyer-Larson both offered advice for thespians in the Fargo-Moorhead area that dream of Broadway-level success. Gulsvig’s advice is to never stop learning.
“Take as many classes as you can,” Gulsvig said. “There’s always room to learn and grow.”
Meyer-Larson has similar advice: “Don’t be afraid to pursue a career in the arts. So many people will tell you that dream is ‘unrealistic’ or ‘not stable.’ If you are willing to work hard and are focused on improving yourself as an artist, a career in the arts can be yours,” she said.
“That being said, know that your journey in the arts may take twists and turns … Becky put in her time by waiting tables, tackling lesser known projects, directing educational theater, and performing to small houses. She has played roles large and small, from the leading lady to the committed understudy. Through it all, she never lost sight of her worth or faith in her journey.”
This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit theartspartnership.net.