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Sarah Williams: choreographer, actor and director

By Thomas Carney

Growing up around music, Ms. Sarah Williams, the new director for the Gonzaga Dramatic Association shows, knew that she wanted to get involved in music somehow. Her brothers all played guitar or bass, and her sister did dance and cheer. Her mother ran the elementary school plays and the Mrs. Lakeside Pageant, while her dad played piano. Ms. Williams was not always a theater person, however. In elementary school, she played the viola. 

“Everyone plays the violin; why not play the viola? Dumb choice,” Ms. Williams said.

Upon reaching middle school, Ms. Williams switched over to choir and met the person who would get her into theater, Mr. Dale Duncan. Her first show was Once on this Island Jr. After eighth grade, she auditioned for the performing arts high school and really took a deep dive into theater. While in high school at the Dekalb School of the Arts, she majored in dance and technical theater double major. Ms. Wiliams first held a lead role when she was a junior and played the Queen in Cinderella

“The girl who was playing her was not at rehearsals a lot. She had to miss due to other conflicts and ended up getting sick in the middle of our run, and I actually had to go on for her for a show. That was the moment where I was like ‘Oh, I cannot stop this is it; this is what I’m doing for the rest of my life,’” Ms. Williams said. 

Ms. Williams first became involved with the GDA during her time at Catholic University where she studied musical theater. Mr. Paul Buckley, the producer for the GDA shows, reached out to Catholic and asked if there were any students interested in helping out the GDA. The first time Ms. Williams heard this offer she actually passed. 

“There used to be a girl named JZ who asked me to come on as an assistant choreographer for 42nd Street. The next year my friend Jay choreographed for Fiddler on the Roof. The next year, I choreographed Footloose. I took a year and a half off and came on board full time for Beauty and the Beast,” Ms. Williams said.

In addition to her work with Gonzaga, Ms. Williams is the dance teacher and education programs manager for Levine’s Music Theater. She choreographs at least one show a year for them and teaches the children’s theater classes. 

After Mr. Allan L’Etoile retired from Gonzaga, leaving behind his teaching and directing jobs, Ms. Williams received the title of director; she was an integral part of getting Spongebob the Musical to be the musical this spring. Gonzaga is one of the first high schools in the country to do Spongebob. Although she was tight-lipped about how the show was going to play out, she promised that it would be a show worth watching. 

She has expertise within the field that is very new and fresh. She studied this in college, whereas for Mr.L’Etoile and myself, it was more of a side passion. So she knows shows and techniques I never would have considered.  She is super organized and she absolutely loves doing this. Her enthusiasm is infectious. She is the perfect person to be directing these shows. I couldn’t be happier,” said Mr. Buckley when asked what Sarah brings to the GDA.

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