Actress keeps getting one lucky break after another
- Barbara Sherman
- Regal Courier - Features
Amanda Valley returns to Broadway Rose for new holiday show
One of the actors in the Broadway Rose Theatre Company's "Christmas on Broadway" show may look very familiar to audience members: In addition to appearing in its production of "Hairspray," Amanda Valley has appeared in other venues besides the stage.
She was Queenpin Amanda on "Let's Bowl," America's No. 1 indoor comedy bowling show, for two seasons on Comedy Central, plus she has appeared in regional commercials for Subway and Leif's Auto Centers.
Amanda also stars in the film, "Margo and Jones," which was released in May 2012.
"Christmas on Broadway" features four wanna-be actors snowbound in a Broadway theater on Christmas Eve with only trunks filled with props and costumes to entertain themselves, and Amanda plays the theater tour guide in the show.
She likens her whole experience with Broadway Rose to a something out of a movie script.
"Years ago - 2004, maybe - they asked me to do a stage reading of 'Bells,'" Amanda said. "I later auditioned for 'Singing in the Rain' and got called back but didn't get a role.
"Then I got pregnant with my second child, and I fell off everyone's radar. My next performance after having Bridget was on the Portland Spirit."
But Broadway Rose General Manager Dan Murphy and Producing Artistic Director Sharon Maroney, who co-founded the company, never seem to forget an actor who crosses their stage.
"I got a call from Broadway Rose saying they were casting the adult roles for 'Hairspray,'" Amanda said. "Sharon remembered me from that 2004 play reading! I read for the role of Prudy Pingleton in 'Hairspray' and got called back, and 10 days later, I got the role.
"It was probably my most pleasant theater experience ever. There was someone to help me put on my costumes and someone to put on my wig instead of having to do it all alone. When I finished 'Hairspray,' I thought, I will do anything to work for the Broadway Rose again."
And here she is, back on the boards at the New Stage in "Christmas on Broadway," which is the seventh Rick Lewis show that Broadway Rose has produced.
"Rick is a master at putting together musical revues," Maroney said. "His arrangements are always stellar, and our audience loves his work."
Lewis, who also happens to be Amanda's vocal coach, started developing the show's concept 1 Â½ years ago.
"As I worked on the piece, I had some of Portland's most talented musical theater performers in mind for the five-character show," said Lewis, who shared his concept with Maroney.
She decided to offer the parts to the actors Lewis had in mind without holding auditions.
"It made sense to get the actors on board so Rick could choose songs best suited for the vocal abilities of the performers," Maroney added.
Thus, Amanda and the other actors were cast and then started rehearsing a few weeks before the show opened Thanksgiving weekend.
Amanda has caught a few other lucky breaks along the way, starting with her childhood.
Both her parents are from Tennessee, and because her dad was in the Navy, her family moved around. Amanda was born in Oakland and raised in Richmond, Va.
"My mom is artistic, but mostly I come from a long line of Southern eccentrics," Amanda said. "My grandparents were known for their hilarity. My parents said to me, 'We knew there was something different about you,' and my dad would say, 'You're going to be the next Jane Pauley.'"
When Amanda was only 5 years old and in kindergarten in a parochial school, she was the narrator for the Christmas pageant and recited the entire story of Joseph, Mary and Jesus.
"I had it memorized," Amanda said. "I don't think I could read really well yet."
Despite that stellar initial performance, Amanda didn't consider going back on stage until she was in high school, and then she knew that was what she wanted to pursue.
"My mom was so not a stage mom, and now I say to her, 'Why didn't you take me to more auditions?'" Amanda said.
She actually thought she would teach acting and got a bachelor of fine arts degree in acting from Virginia Commonwealth University.
While in Richmond, Amanda also worked at Theater IV and Theater Virginia. Next she moved to Minneapolis "to do as much theater as I could."
During her six years there, she performed in "Tony and Tina's Wedding" with Hey City and trained as an improviser at Brave New Workshop, becoming a company member.
Amanda loved her time on "Let's Bowl," "which was adored by tens of people, but we did two seasons," she said. "It was an incredible experience, and it's on YouTube now."
Amanda also met her husband John Valley in Minneapolis, admitting it was "in a bar."
"I went there with a girlfriend because I didn't want to go to a cocktail party I was invited to, and he couldn't get into the Timberwolves game so walked across the street from his hotel to the bar," Amanda said.
John, who worked for OSPRIG in Portland, was in town for a convention, but in the crowded bar, Amanda thought he said he worked for nearby Ausbury.
They finally figured it out and stayed in touch after he went back to Portland, visiting back and forth until she moved here in 2001 "because it became obvious I should do something," she said.
"We had finished shooting the first season of 'Let's Bowl' before I flew to Portland. I flew back for the second season, but it was only for two or 2 Â½ weeks."
In Portland, Amanda got a day job doing temporary work, and she occasionally got acting jobs too, appearing with the Lakewood Theatre Company and Northwest Children's Theater among others.
"In between all that, I gave birth to children," Amanda said. Parker is now 7 and wants to be a world-famous dancer and lip-syncher, and Bridget, who will be 4 in March, wants to be a "princess doctor."
John works for Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) as his liaison to Washington and Clackamas counties, and Amanda is now an advertising account executive for Artslandia, and she also works for Playbill Northwest, which is its sister publication.
"Fortunately, I've found a way to fill my hours," Amanda said. "My kids are growing fast. I also audition for film and TV commercials.
"I have worked for a lot of theater companies that are well done, but working for the Broadway Rose is the most wonderful experience I've ever had. Everyone knows their job. Dan and Sharon are great people and make everyone feel like family."