When Sandy Taylor walked into the Bella Sorrellas at 53rd and Broadway on March 9 everybody seemed to know her, raising their hands to wave as she made her way into the backroom and began to set up, before smiling out at the room full of dinners, many of whom she knew, not from her singing gig, but from having worked here for seven months as a waitress.
A number of people during that time would hear her sing and admire her voice, saying she ought to be singing professionally, little knowing that she indeed was trying to do just that. Since then she has been making her way to audition after audition so that she can pursue the thing she wants most, to perform on stage in musical theater.
A professional actor, singer and director specializing in musical theatre performance at 27, Taylor sings her heart out here and at other local venues just to get her name out in the public.
Although she has occasionally sung duets at weddings with her husband, she is bent on making her own way in a solo career and has performed through the area including venues such as the DiVinci Room in the Bergen Point section of Bayonne.
“I’m trying to perfect my craft.” – Sandy Taylor
“I’m trying to perfect my craft,” she said, during an interview between sets.
A resident of Bayonne for about five years, Taylor thought she was going into education when she was in high school.
“But I was always a singer,” she said, explaining why she went for a dual degree in Elementary Education and Acting from Susquehanna University.
“At heart I’m still a teacher,” she said, and did work as artistic director and teacher of I'm Broadway Bound. She is also a private voice teacher at Roxbury High School and an adjunct professor of acting at Montclair University, while performing all over NY and NJ area as a soloist, in musicals, plays, and other professional performing ensembles.
With her blonde hair and her winning smile, Taylor could be mistaken for an angel. Sometimes, she can sing like one with a voice so sweet, she melts your heart. But she’s has stage chops and can belt out a tune when she needs to, and during the dinner performance at Bella Sorrellas, her voice sometimes rose above the din of dinners to get their attention.
Broadway, even off Broadway is a dream, but one that she is focused on achieving, having already left a mark in that world with roles in regional theaters.
She has played Cinderella in Disenchanted, Little Edie in Black River Theatre's Grey Gardens, Woman #2 in Women's Theatre Company's And the World Goes 'Round, Martha Jefferson in 1776 at Plays-in-the-Park, Helen in Manhattan Repertory's The Sacrifice, Mrs. Cratchit in Sundog Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol Tour and Susan in Company at Plays-in-the-Park.
Her professional choral credits include Kinnara Vocal Ensemble and Vocali Mundi Acapella, Better Together Singers, The Yuletide Carolers, and The Jersey Follettes.
As anxious as she is to make it in the business, she said she takes everything in stride, doing what it takes to earn her way to the top, and currently divides her time teaching and singing, and lives near her 100 year old aunt in Bayonne.
“I like living here,” she said, and likes the easy access the Light Rail gives her to New York. She said the first time she saw a Broadway show, she was hooked, and has come to realize that she may just have the combination of talents and push to make it.
She has a great range, more than just enough to get over the volume of very loud dinners on this cool night in March, but a range that a lyric soprano, a strong mix, clear belt, and warm mezzo that allow her to sing anything from legit and contemporary musical theatre to jazz and pop.
Taylor is already working her way up, making connections with people she think can help with her career, and she already has an agent that knows which casting directors deal with which theaters for parts that she might be suited for.
“A lot of people have the chops,” she said. “But it takes a lot of dedication to get there.”
She said she is getting closer all the time and has had a number of call backs last year for Off Broadway productions.
In her career she had trained in acting, vocal movement and dance training with a number of prestigious teachers, and has developed skills in reading music, tight harmony, quick accent study, and other areas.
In New York Theater she has played in Murder, Inc, The Sacrifice, A Christmas Carol and other roles, and has been perfecting her jazz and musical chops working with Grammy nominated pianist Benito Gonzalez.
Her dream role is to play all three women in Grey Gardens, a play in which she has already played the youngest role.
“I want to play the other two women when I reach their ages,” she said.
She hopes to put out a musical CD over the next few months that she can also distribute.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.