When it came time to put together the cast for the Oct. 22 performance of “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou,” the creator of the musical first contacted all the participants in the 2014 Carnegie Hall performance to see if they would be interested. But when the person who had the role of the Narrator didn’t respond, she knew exactly the person to ask: Sisi Wright.
“Sisi did a great job in the DC performance,” said composer-lyricist Felicia Hunter, who created Fannie Lou Musical and has overseen performances of it and its sister production, “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou,” in New York, Connecticut and Washington, DC.
“She has a great singing voice, and her speaking voice is very lyrical,” said Felicia. “It draws you into the action, which is just the trait I wanted for the role of the Narrator.
“She also helped out on our INSIDE TRACKS series [see below] and was absolutely wonderful,” Felicia adds.“So I wanted to make sure she had this opportunity, if she wanted it.”
There was, however, one small problem. Since performing in the DC production, Sisi had enrolled in graduate school at Villanova University. She wouldn’t be able to make the trek from the Philadelphia area, where the university is located, into New York City for every rehearsal in the weeks leading up to the performance. Add the demands of her academic schedule and theater-concentration extra-curricular requirements, and possible restrictions her department might impose on performing in a professional, non-instructional environment while in graduate school, and chances seemed bleak that Sisi would be able to participate in the Oct. 22 production.
But in the end she made it work.
“Luckily,” said Felicia, “the role of the Narrator is stand-alone. The character is off to the side of the stage, on the periphery of the action, and only speaks between scenes, alone. The Narrator has no scene partners, nobody with whom it is necessary to interact, except for the audience. That fact that Sisi wanted to be in it, and I wanted her to be in it – I’m glad we were able to make it happen. She’s also a very, very nice person, so it’s a joy working with her.”
A graduate of Sweet Briar College's theatre program, Sisi has said she is “thrilled” to perform in "Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou."
“I’m excited to be a part of something that’s new. I’ve never had that opportunity before,” said Sisi, whose acting inspiration is Viola Davis.
Productions Sisi has appeared in include The Secret Garden (Rose), Pathway to Freedom (Esse) at Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre, and Sordid Lives (Dr. Eve Bollinger) at Renaissance Theatre. She said she was drawn to audition for the DC production of “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou” because of the story it tells.
Inspired by the like of voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou” consists of dialogue and music excerpts, in semi-concert format from the full-length original musical Fannie Lou. Performances have been met with acclaim and received standing ovations from enthusiastic audiences. Felicia is hoping for a Broadway run in the not-to-distant future.
“It’ll be exciting to watch where it ends up,” said Sisi.
While you'll have to wait until Oct. 22 to see Sisi onstage in the role of the Narrator, you can hear her sing right now. She participated in the INSIDE TRACKS series of Fannie Lou Musical free downloads, helping sing lead on the song "Forget Me Not." Sisi's voice is second one you hear, on the second verse, and also elsewhere in the song. Listen her now, right here.