by Aliese Polk
Ever since she can remember, Valley native Sierra Boggess has dreamed of being in the spotlight. But while there are many aspiring actors out there trying to make it big, very few become Broadway stars. At 25-years-old, her Broadway debut as Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid solidified the realization that her dream was coming true. Boggess subsequently starred in plays such as Les Misérables and Love Never Dies.
“I know what it feels like to grow up and think ‘I know I am meant for something more,’” said Boggess, now 30-years-old, as she explained how much she can relate to the fun-loving and ambitious mermaid.
“I know what it feels like to desire something so much that you will go to any lengths to get it.”
An Early Beginning
Boggess always loved entertaining audiences. “I wanted to be an ice skater,” she said, reminiscing about her childhood dream. “That was my first great love. Hands down.” She started when she was four. But, as a teenager, she put the skates down and dedicated herself to something else she enjoyed — musical theater.
“I put my ‘need to be in front of people’ onstage instead of on the ice,” she said.
Boggess, the middle daughter of Mike Boggess and Kellun Turner comes from a musical family. She plays the flute, her sisters Summer and Allegra play two instruments each and her father builds guitars.
She was also a member of the Colorado Children’s Chorale, an experience, she says, that cultivated her “intense love of theater and passion for giving my all.”
George Washington Bred
Boggess pursued her dream of acting while at George Washington High School (GW). “The drama department at GW was life saving!” she said, recalling how much she disliked math and history.
Former GW theater teacher Nancy Priest says that when Boggess came in as a freshman she was very enthusiastic and motivated.
“She knew from the moment she walked in the door that she wanted to be an actress,” Priest said. “She was very happy there.”
Priest also says that Boggess was very talented and fun to work with.
“She’s always been what we call a triple threat,” said Priest, commenting on her ability to act, sing and dance.
Boggess says that Priest, for whom the GW auditorium is named, was the best drama teacher she has ever had and that she taught students the importance of teamwork and discipline.
“I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t met her at that high school age,” she said. “She allowed me to be who I was, while still pushing me to be better and give more and try with every fiber of my being.”
Boggess graduated in 2000 and went on to study musical theater at Millikin University in Illinois, the same alma mater of Jodi Benson — the original voice of Ariel in Disney’s 1989 movie.
Right before graduating college in 2004, Boggess did a showcase in New York City for agents and casting directors. As a result of her work, she was called in to audition for a show called Princesses.
“Well, I thought that was it!” she said. “I got my first Broadway show!”
However, the show never happened. Due to a lack of funding, production stopped and Boggess found herself auditioning for new roles. She soon received a call explaining that a replacement was needed for Cosette in the national tour of Les Misérables. She auditioned and booked the role of understudy the same day.
“I had two days to pack and I was off to Toronto to begin my new job!”
From there, Boggess landed several roles. In 2005 composer Andrew Lloyd Webber picked Boggess to play Christine Daaé in the Las Vegas production of Phantom of the Opera. Then, in 2010, she recreated the role in his sequel Love Never Dies for the showing in London’s West End.
These leading ladies are just some of the characters Boggess has portrayed, but she says there is no limit as to what she can or will do.
“I pride myself on not making safe choices,” Boggess said. The role of Ariel required her to roller skate, sing and dance — all while scantily clad.
“It really is the journey not the destination and the journey I am on in my career always takes me out of my comfort zone. I love it!”
Last year, she performed on Broadway alongside Emmy Award-winning Actor Tyne Daly in the revival of Master Class. Boggess expanded her repertoire as she learned to sing opera for the role of Sharon.
“It was extraordinary!” said Priest, who saw her perform. “She just brought tears to our eyes.”
Boggess says that the different challenges each role presents have helped make her a better performer.
GW alumna Lili Bjorklund recalls meeting her in 2007 when she visited the school. Bjorklund, then a freshman interested in theater, says that it was inspiring to see a former student pursue her dreams and encourage them to follow theirs.
Five years later, Bjorklund still remembers Boggess’ advice to focus on something that is not a strong point.
“For her, she said it was dance. So she decided to go to dance school so that she could become a Broadway level dancer,” Bjorklund said. “I think that speaks a lot about who she is as a performer. She’s always striving to find her weak spot and become a lot stronger.”
Throughout her career, Boggess says that she has drawn inspiration from so many people. Among those, is voice teacher Mary Setrakian who told her when she was 17, “You are enough. You are SO enough; it’s unbelievable how enough you are.”
It is a quote that Boggess shares with others and even has on her Twitter page as a reminder to “be who YOU are.”
In June, she helped celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee as part of the Magic of Disney in Concert show in Hyde Park. Accompanied by a 60-piece orchestra and popular animated characters, Boggess took center stage to sing some of the most beloved Disney tunes.
And yes, she has met and sung for the Queen. When she’s not busy jet-setting between New York City and London for performances, shaking hands with royalty or giving advice to students, Boggess says she tries to spend as much time as possible with her friends and family.
She is engaged to Tam Mutu who she met while doing Love Never Dies. He even proposed to her while they were visiting Colorado.
Soon, Boggess will be back in London for a six-month production and then she’ll return to New York for the 2013-2014 theater season in the Prince of Broadway.
Her passion for entertaining is beginning to extend beyond the stage, as she has expressed an interest in trying television and film. “I love to make people laugh!” she said.
Message to Jim Carrey: she would love to work with you one day.
“I feel like in a way I haven’t accomplished anything! I am just a student in life, trying to learn along the way,” she said. I want to keep growing and LOVING what I do.”
So far, what she is doing is working. Audiences have lauded her performances and fans say they look forward to seeing what she does next.