“The big break comes when everyone knows who you are. I wouldn’t say I have that yet,” said Valerie Wright, who plays Dolly Tate in the revival of Annie Get Your Gun.
Although Wright still awaits her big break in acting, she is not new to the industry. Growing up in Las Vegas, Wright was around entertainment but not theater, she said. It was not until high school that she began aspiring to be an actress.
She pursued her goals as a theater major at the University of Southern California but moved to New York to be closer to Broadway. Wright acknowledges making it big on-stage requires a lot of arduous work.
“I think this business, probably more than anything, is about staying power and the ability to hang in there,” Wright said during a telephone interview. “I went through rough periods. Periods of having no money and feeling lousy. You can’t expect to be successful right away, but I hoped for it. I really did.”
She might not need to hope much longer for acclaimed success. Her big break may come in March when the revival of Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun begins its run on Broadway. Much of the hoopla surrounding the show focuses on amazing thespians such as Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat. Wright, however, inevitably will draw attention and accolades for her role as Dolly, whom she describes as a “selfish, insensitive queen.”
Prior to this role, she performed on Broadway in Cats with Peters, Sally Marr and Her Escorts with Joan Rivers, Damn Yankees and Steel Pier. She also worked on an off-Broadway production of Damn Yankees with Jerry Lewis. While Wright continues to wait for her big break, her impressive performances allowed her to pursue other projects.
“I had known the director, Graciela Daniele, for years,” Wright said. “I don’t know if she had seen me, but she knew me. Graciela is possibly one of the best directors we have on Broadway. She has a spirit and energy that creates a positive vibe. She sets a tone that induces creativity.”
The revival of a show, any show, but especially a classic, demands new life and innovative ideas to engage a modern audience. Wright said the cast is approaching the musical from a different perspective and handling every element in a contemporary manner.
“I think a lot of success in revivals is making it accessible to an audience of today,” she said. “If it’s out-of-date information you’re getting, it doesn’t mean as much.”
With an updated script and a brilliant cast, Annie Get Your Gun means something to the audience. But it may mean more to Wright – it may mean her period of hoping is over, because after her performance, people will know who she is.