By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun
In the musical comedy Hairspray, Sheldon Smith hits the stage along with the teenage girl with big dreams and big hair. Just like the show's plucky heroine, he's danced his way into popular shows and has always dreamed big.
Kids in Action group
The Princess of Wales' run of the Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray will end Nov. 28. Tickets are still available by calling 416-872-1212.
Smith began modeling when he was about eight years old and soon convinced his mom to let him take up acting.
He honed his skills with a small theatre group called Kids in Action and travelled across the country for a few years performing a compilation of movie scenes and musical numbers.
The 21-year-old is now performing at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto as a member of Hairspray's swing ensemble. "I had been touring with Grease and thought I had missed the audition [for the show]," Smith says.
"When I found out it was still two days away, I went out and got the music. I went to this massive open call to audition ... It's been an amazing experience. Our cast is really tight."
He already has a long list of credentials that includes assistant choreographer/ensemble for Jack and Kim's Wedding Party (a Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding spin off) and the role of Sonny in a touring production of Grease. He's also travelled to Shanghai to perform in a musical.
Series credits include La Femme Nikita, The Zack Files and Goosebumps. Film credits include Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Men With Guns, Convicted, Honey, Mary Higgins Clark Mysteries, The Man Who Saved Christmas and My Own Country.
Smith enjoys the variety of each medium. "Theatre, expression wise, is bigger. If you did film and TV like you did theatre, you'd jump out of the screen. Theatre is awesome that way.
| SHELDON SMITH
Appearing in Hairspray
"With theatre, you take the journey from front to back. Your character grows from one day to the next," Smith says.
"In film, it's a different journey because you're filming scenes. It's interesting. You may have to film the last scene of the movie on your first day. You have to find your character when it's scheduled."
Schooled in Durham region
Smith enjoys performing for a live audience. "You get excited," he says. "There's no time to be nervous."
Smith grew up in Ajax, where he attended Notre Dame de la Jeunesse and then St. Charles Garnier Catholic School in Whitby for a year.
He was home schooled in high school, took dance lessons at Creative Dance Workshop in Oshawa and private vocal lessons with Ian Garratt, Shania Twain's vocal coach, and Bruno Bertrand.
He credits supportive parents with allowing him to live his dream.
"My dad was always super-supportive. My mom took me back and forth to Toronto for four or five years. I'm definitely glad she was able to do that for me," Smith says.
His dream? "I would love to move to New York. I've been there three times and just love going to the theatre. I want to see everything."
But first, he'd love a gig on General Hospital.
"I grew up watching General Hospital. I always wanted and still want to be on General Hospital. You fall in wells and get kidnapped and your girlfriend gets pregnant with this evil child ... You get to play it from front to back. I definitely think it would be cool to do for a year or two."
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