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Student Press Review
From Oz to the Big City
From Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz to Dorothy Brown in Thoroughly Modern Millie, this actress has come a long way
Editor's note: Originally published: January 16, 2004
Jessica Grové as Miss Dorothy Brown in Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Photo : www.JessicaGrove.com
"I'm not perfect."
That is the response actress Jessica Grové gave when asked what she most wanted people to know about her.
Grové's answer belies her talent as an actress and singer. At the age of fifteen, Grové was cast as Dorothy in a major production of The Wizard of Oz opposite stage and screen veterans like Mickey Rooney and eternally glamorous Eartha Kitt-a huge responsibility for one so young.
Grove, however was up to the task and the experience and maturity she gained from both that and her early acting experiences still shows.
Grové, now 21 years old, is curled up in a chair at the end of a long dressing room vanity mirror, sans costume and stage make-up...but still in her false eyelashes. As part of her costume when she plays Miss Dorothy in Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway, Grové does not appear to be the kind of person who gets up and wows an audience.
Hearing her speak of performing, however, it is easy to see Grové's passion for performing that influenced her leaving Columbus, Ohio (her hometown) to experience the culture shock of New York City to pursue her dream.
Grové committed herself to this dream when a lot of kids her age were probably having difficulty committing to a shade of nail polish. This commitment, however, did come with consequences.
She admits that it was somewhat difficult to leave home and miss out on most of the "high school things" like graduation and the prom. Perhaps more difficult was facing the rejection that actors inevitably face.
"You have to learn not to take it personally. It doesn't mean you aren't any good, you just aren't what they are looking for," she said.
Along with the many sacrifices Grové has had to make, there have been many rewards. She describes with affection the lessons she's learned from her Oz co-stars. She says that from Eartha Kitt she learned to stand up for herself and to "never sing for free."
In addition to the free advice from Kitt, she also received impromptu lessons in improvisation from Mickey Rooney.
During one performance in Green Bay, Wisc., Rooney exclaimed "I see the Green Bay Packers!" while gazing into a crystal ball. This was obviously not in the script, but Grové was able to recover nicely.
Her most rewarding experience, however, occurred much later in her career.
While doing a cast tour with the ensemble of Millie, she had the opportunity to go to Belize and perform for people who had not been able to experience live theater before.
Grové hopes to someday begin a theater company that would bring theater to those who are not exposed it. Her more immediate goals are to work on being a lead in a show again and to pursue television and movie roles.
Patricia Perez is a senior at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. Perez is one of 12 New York City high school students selected to participate in the Fall 2003 semester of CSPA's Stringers Program, co-sponsored with Camp Broadway.
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