It was during rehearsals in last summer’s production of the musical Tuck Everlasting at French Creek Theatre, which is based on a children's novel by Natalie Babbitt, that I first noticed that Calista Zajac prances rather than walks, as if always on the verge of breaking into dance. Or taking flight. She played an 11-year-old living in the woods of New Hampshire, a lead role, who must make a decision with everlasting consequences.
And she sings show tunes 24/7. These and other noticeable symptoms of someone born to perform musical theater have contributed to an impressive professional resume, talent agency representation and placement at the top of the short list of most sought-after local actors.
“While most kids her age are listening to Ariana Grande,” notes her Mom, Jessica, who blames herself and her husband, Louie, for giving Calista the acting itch by exposing her to Broadway musicals when she was just 3½ years old, “Calista listens to Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz and Ben Platt.” Louie, having performed “legendary” spotlight work while at North Royalton High School, credits his daughter’s immense talent to heredity.
Perhaps, but Calista’s remarkable drive, unyielding dedication, laser focus, and years of vocal training at Helen Todd Voice Studio in Cleveland Hts. and dance lessons at Emjaez Dance Studio in Bay Village haven’t hurt. She is particularly adept at losing herself in her characters while, at the same time, finding something of herself to inform their portrayals. And she finds joy in absolutely everything.
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