The Falconer

Sandra Turley: Behind the Broadway Curtain

Jadi Wright, Staff Writer

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Sandra Turley starred as Cosette in the New York City Broadway production of “Les Miserables” as part of the original closing cast. She graduated with a BFA from Brigham Young University with a major in Dance, Music and Theatre. She also performed as Ariel in the Disney World stage production of “The Little Mermaid.” She travels around the country performing for special events with the “Time Out For Women” programs and is a recording artist for Shadow Mountain Records. She has released two albums, “Sandra Turley: On Broadway” and “Inside My Soul.” However, the focus of her life now is her husband and 4 beautiful children. They reside outside of Washington, D.C.

Turley starred on Broadway for three and a half years, with a typical schedule of six days and eight shows a week. On a single show day, they arrived just 30 minutes before the performance, and left shortly after the three hour performance. “When you first join a show like Les Miserables that has been running on Broadway for a long time already, you have about 2 weeks of rehearsal, and then you join the cast on stage.” Turley said. “There are a few rehearsals here and there, but for the most part, once you are in the show, you just do the show!”

When asked what was the hardest part of adjusting to Broadway, Turley said, “The late nights! Every night by intermission I was always ready to fall asleep, but there was a whole other act to perform!  My body never got used to it, even after 3 1/2 years.”

Like most of what we see in the media, Broadway is not what meets the eye. While it’s an honor and a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s not nearly as glamorous as it looks. “Those Broadway theaters are old! Tiny backstage areas that are quite dark and filthy.” Turley explains that this adds to the charm of Broadway. It’s a history of storytelling, and the old buildings, lights, chairs, everything contributes to the experience.

We only see a small part of a Hollywood star’s life, and the same goes for Broadway. Most of the memorable moments for Turley happened behind closed doors. She was in New York during 9/11, and she told of that experience. The shows closed for a few days following the attacks, while all of the stars dealt with the tragedy, but the “show must go on.”

“The first show back after the attacks was the most remarkable experience of my lifetime,” said Turley. “There were maybe 8 people in the audience, in a theater that was usually sold out to 1600 people. No one wanted to come to NYC after the terrorists had attacked.”

Turley said it was the most tender and heartfelt performance she had ever done. “We openly wept with every single line of the show,” Turley said. “We cried onstage, offstage, in the audience. The message of Les Miserables was particularly poignant and powerful after the country had just experienced such horrible terror.”

Along with the other members of the cast, Turley felt immense power in the message of the show during that performance. “It was needed more than ever: to love another person is to see the face of God,” Turley said. The cast felt as though they were there to show good will triumph over evil and to show others that strangers could love each other even though they had been separated from those they loved. “That was surely the most powerful day of performing I will ever have,” Turley said.

After Broadway, Turley focused more on music than acting. When asked if she’d ever return to Broadway, she said, “Never say never, right? But now that I am a wife and mother, I can’t imagine ever feeling the drive to go back, nor the ability to make that work for our family.” She strives to share the beauty of the creative arts everywhere she goes and has encouraged her children to do the same. In her current phase of life, she records albums, performs concerts, and speaks all over the country. “That alone has been hard enough to try to balance with our family, but also a great benefit,” Turley adds.

However, if she had to choose between Broadway and recording music, she would ultimately choose performing because “then we share something together in the same room which can never be captured again- it’s those singular, spiritual communications between the stage and audience that are the most precious.” But, she states that both are an important part of who she is and is grateful that she’s been able to experience both.

In conclusion, Turley briefly gives advice to all those aspiring to the performing arts world. “Grow your testimony before your talent.” She further explains that your testimony is what you know of yourself as you relate it to the world around you. It’s important to have a testimony of who you are, why you’re here, and how you fit in before getting up on stage, whether it be Broadway or just the stage of life.

“Once we are sure of who we are on all levels, then we can offer our talents to those around us, authentic, unique and profound ways,” Turley said. “We then are also prone to maintain a pure motive for creating.  Many people create purely so they can be known.  But that motive will not lead to true art.  True art is motivated only by a deep connection to making the world better by what you may offer. Seek to be worth knowing rather than to be well known.”

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