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Name in lights

by: Submitted photo, Former Hillsdale resident Kelly Grant stars as Kathy in

Kelly Grant recently had her 'I made it' moment.

The former Hillsdale resident made her Broadway debut in the show 'Company' in New York at the end of October. The official red carpet revealing of the show takes place Nov. 29 at the Barrymore Theatre. For her, the big moment was, 'seeing my photo out in front of the theater,' she said. 'I was a big geek standing out on 47th street crying.'

Kelly Grant, who was Kelly Hedtke when she graduated Wilson High School in 1988, has an important role in the show. The play is about a bachelor named Bobby and his relationships with his friends (five married couples) and his former girlfriends. Of all his past lovers, Grant plays Kathy, 'the one that got away.'

Grant, whose parents still live in Portland, said that she relates to her character because they both struggle with homesickness.

'I totally empathize with Kathy-she's from Cape Cod and she really misses her family,' said the actress whose family runs marathons together and trains via the phone. '…To me, Portland will always be home,' she said.

Grant said it is themes of family, relationships and love that make the show appealing to a lot of people

'It's funny and sad and it speaks about our own love, relationships, sex and what we expect from each other,' she said.

Despite the universal themes, the play is demanding and complicated for the actors involved. Where many Broadway plays are known for casts of hundreds, elaborate sets, and huge orchestras, 'Company' is more subdued. The cast is only 14 actors who never leave the stage and serve as the orchestra, playing instruments when they're not otherwise singing, dancing and acting. Grant plays the saxophone and flute during the show.

'It's incredible,' she said. 'For people who have gotten used to the big-scale musical, it's a different animal.'

Grant said that this play, with its simple style and complex relationships, is unlike most others out there on the famed street.

'Some of the criticisms of musical theater is that it's dumbed down but we expect a lot of our audience.'

Loving the limelight

Before grabbing attention for her talent in New York, Grant was lighting up stages in Portland.

'My parents took me to Ashland to see plays from the time I was four or five,' she said. 'I was bitten by the bug from the very beginning.'

She took ballet, gymnastics, piano and other lessons early and continued being involved with the arts into high school where she took choir, drama, voice lessons and band.

'It's because of the Wilson High band that I even have instruments,' she said.

For her wide-ranging contribution to the arts program at the school, her teachers invented an 'all-around arts' award to honor her at the end of her senior year.

'I was trying to do everything to do with performing arts,' Grant said.

After Wilson, she studied musical theater performance at Arizona State University and lived in Chicago before moving to New York. She worked steadily in regional theater performing in 'Show Boat' in London in the late '90s and winning a Portland acting award called a Drammy in 2001 for her performance as Christine in 'Phantom of the Opera.' She has also played Sally in 'Cabaret' and the lead role in Peter Pan.

'Nothing is more fun than flying,' she said of the experience.

Grant originally starred in 'Company' at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park during the first half of this year. Rave reviews brought the show to New York. Being on Broadway and bringing the show to a larger audience is a joy for the actress.

'I'm very, very excited. I can't even sit still,' Grant said.