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Cristela Carrizales' one-woman show argues that size and color have little to do with character



Short, Round, & Brown
8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Ghostlight Theatre Club
3110 N. Walker

Not content to wait on the sidelines of the musical-theater world any longer, acclaimed local actress Cristela Carrizales is challenging the status quo and taking center stage in her own one-woman show, "Short, Round, & Brown," which debuts Thursday at Ghostlight Theatre Club.

Carrizales' concept is that she's performing songs for characters she'd never be cast for because of superficial reasons. The show also features her personal stories about her experiences as an actress and woman.

She'll be joined onstage at times by fellow Ghostlight alums Emily Etherton, Rachel Bouton and Scott Hynes, with Steve Kennedy accompanying on piano.

Even before Carrizales was old enough to know what performing was, she was doing it.

"There's a picture of me at about 3, standing in front of our television/radio/record player combo singing into a jump rope," she said.

Later, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer was "a professional dancer, singer and actress." While dancing fell to the wayside, she began studying voice in high school and earned her theater degree from Texas Wesleyan University.

After college, Carrizales relocated a number of times with her military husband, which forced her into a hiatus from the stage until he was assigned to Tinker Air Force Base.

Since returning to the stage in 2007, Carrizales has made a name for herself in much-lauded Ghostlight performances in "Fat Pig" and "[title of show]," plus her work with local improv troupes The Ones Your Mother Warned You About, The MiDolls and Villain: The Musical.

She came up with the idea for "Short, Round, & Brown" while preparing last spring for Ghostlight's karaoke-themed fundraiser, "Showtuneapalooza."

"As a joke, I decided to only sing songs of characters in musicals that I would never get cast as, because I was either too short, and/or too round, and/or too brown. The idea tickled me and my friends thought it was funny as well," she said.

Frequently referring to herself as "short, round and brown," the more Carrizales considered it, the more convinced she became that this might be a good premise for a one-woman show. While presented in good fun, the idea of being looked over for roles because of size or ethnicity is far from a laughing matter.

"It's still perfectly acceptable to hire people based any number of physical qualities in the entertainment industry," she said.

While no one has outright said to her that she didn't get cast because she doesn't fit a certain mold, Carrizales knows it happens, "a reality" with which she's always lived.

"But that doesn't stop me from hoping and wishing and truly believing that if casting directors rolled the dice on 'one of us' in a nontraditional role, they might surprise everyone "? even themselves," Carrizales said, noting she isn't trying to make a political statement with the show.

"I just hope to have enough people there that I can afford to pay my pianist, and that those people are ultimately entertained," she said.

However, she admitted you don't do a show such as this without wanting to prove something.

"For me, I guess I'm past angry. It's a reality that you know going into the business. And as an actor, you're taught early on that if you can't handle rejection, don't be in this business," she said. "So if I was going to prove anything it would be I can do these roles. I can sing them. I can be anything any other performer can be. I'm just doing it in this package "? this short, round, brown package." "?Eric Webb


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