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Art People: Sierra Gamble/triple threat

  • Sierra Gamble of Leverett.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Sierra Gamble of Leverett.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Sierra Gamble of Leverett.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Sierra Gamble of Leverett.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Sierra Gamble of Leverett.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Sierra Gamble of Leverett.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

By her own account, Sierra “Sisi” Gamble was a shy little girl. When she moved to a new school in third grade, she could barely bring herself to utter a word to her classmates and teacher. Sometimes she hid under her desk when she felt overwhelmed.

But then something happened: In the spring of that same year, Gamble, now 19, was cast in the lead in a school play. What was her teacher thinking?

“My classmates were like, ‘She can’t do this, she can hardly talk,’ ” Gamble recalled in an interview last week in the Leverett home she shares with her parents, Shannon and Mark Gamble, and her 17-year-old sister, Maya. But once onstage, she says, she was transformed, and felt more comfortable than she ever had before.

“My parents were nervous,” she said, “but apparently I did pretty well.”

It seems Gamble had been bitten by the acting bug — hard — and for the next several years, the school plays she did every spring were “the highlight of my year, every single year.” By the time she was 13, she was hooked. That’s the year she decided to pursue a career in The Theater.

“I feel more comfortable onstage than I do anywhere else in the world,” Gamble said. “The feeling of stepping out onto a stage and the rush you get — it’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt.”

Gamble has since studied theater arts while performing in high school and community theater productions. She even worked as an extra on the movie “Grown Ups 2,” starring Adam Sandler. Now, after completing high school (she was homeschooled for the past two years, after attending Amherst Regional High School), she’s a triple threat, with skills in acting, singing and dancing. And she’s set her eye on Broadway.

“Cuz, you know, it’s Broadway,” she said.

She knows it’s a big leap from local performances of “Seussical” and “Annie” to the Great White Way, but she’s not one to shy away, anymore, from a challenge.

“I’m a very optimistic person and I’m throwing everything I have into this and hoping that I’m good enough,” she said.

Last spring, she was accepted into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, a rigorous conservatory that trains students to perform in musical theater.

“I have the talent to go to Broadway, I just need to be trained,” she said. “There’s so much to learn and I need to get better.” She starts classes in February.

Gamble estimates that tuition and expenses will run about $110,000 for the two-year program. She got a considerable scholarship from the school, she says, and her parents are taking out loans, but she’s still $25,000 short. She’s working on raising that with odd jobs — babysitting, cleaning, gardening and her movie-extra paycheck — and a solo concert she will present Nov. 10 at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst. On the program will be a selection of her favorite Broadway tunes, including “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables,” “Popular” from “Wicked” and the title song from “Beauty and the Beast.”

Gamble’s parents are helping to organize the show that will feature wine, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction at 5 p.m., followed by the concert at 6. There is a suggested donation of $25.

And, yes, she will sign autographs.

— Kathleen Mellen

Follow Gamble on her road to Broadway at sisisbroadwayadventure.wordpress.com.

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