Hometown girl making way in big city

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 30, 2000

Heather Christian can’t find grits in the supermarkets in New York City. But it’s not enough to keep the young Natchez native from pursuing her dreams. A 2000 graduate of Cathedral High School, Christian is attending New York University’s Tisch musical theater program. She has also been chosen to perform in a musical theater revue to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Tisch School of the Arts.

&uot;I’m pretty excited about it. Freshmen aren’t usually allowed to perform,&uot; Christian said of the Dec. 4 event.

Christian, who studied ballet and piano in Natchez and performed in local productions, was also lucky enough to be chosen for the Tisch gala without auditioning.

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&uot;They don’t usually let freshmen audition, but my studio is organizing and doing the direction for the gala,&uot; she said.

Even though she is a freshmen, Christian was spotted while performing in class and got a chance to perform in the program.

She will sing in the chorus in two on-stage numbers as well as appear in a film before the event begins. She is also auditioning for a solo.

The black-tie event will be hosted by Bill Cosby and Alec Baldwin and will raise $2 million in scholarships for Tisch students.

Christian’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Christian of Natchez, plan to attend.

Their daughter’s unique opportunity to perform in the Tisch event seems to fall right in line with Christian’s dreams for herself.

&uot;Drama does not call on people who don’t raise their hand,&uot; she said, remembering the leap she took from Natchez to New York.

Christian said she has always loved performing.

&uot;I wanted it so badly,&uot; she said. &uot;It turned into a sick obsession. There’s not much opportunity for it in Natchez, but you do what you can.

&uot;I’m just glad I got into this school and am doing what I’m doing.&uot;

Christian is studying dance, singing and drama. She said her school’s motto is &uot;they train actors who like to sing and dance.&uot;

A typical day for Christian, who has a 22-block walk to school, finds her in three dance classes before lunch.

She has more classes in the afternoon, and then she often works crew at off-Broadway productions in the evenings – a new experience for her.

Finding her way around New York City is also a new experience for the Southerner.

&uot;I can’t find grits in the supermarkets,&uot; she said. &uot;Everyone here think bare feet are gross. And I had to get rid of my Southern accent.&uot;

And to fit in, she also has had to try not to be too polite. &uot;Everybody knows you’re not from New York if you have manners,&uot; she said with a laugh.

Although she loves New York because &uot;it never stops,&uot; Christian misses her hometown.

&uot;I miss kudzu,&uot; she said. &uot;I miss my car and I miss my parents.&uot;

Still, she is committed to pursuing her dream – even if she has to wait a while for her big break.

&uot;I definitely want to be on the stage,&uot; she said. &uot;I’m here, and it’s here, but it’s so far away. I want the limelight.

&uot;I just want to keep doing what I love.&uot;