Actor trades city of trees for city that never sleeps
by Andrew Alonzo | email@example.com
Claremont High School alumna Kristina Leopold, 28, is living the dream.
The Claremont native recently moved to New York City to begin work as an alternate in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “SIX.”
Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, the story revolves around the six wives of King Henry VIII, who compete for who has it worst. Leopold is an alternate for three roles: Catherine of Aragon, Jane Seymour, and Catherine Parr. View the cast at sixonbroadway.com/team.
As an alternate, Leopold is normally on the sidelines. But on Sunday, March 19, she got the chance to star onstage in front of some nostalgic company, current members of Claremont High’s Chamber Singers.
At CHS, Leopold was a chamber singer, a thespian, and athlete. After the show she and the chamber sang “Harmonia Mundi,” the CHS Chamber Singers’ traditional after-concert song, and the impromptu collaboration was posted on Facebook on the CHS choirs page.
Leopold’s fondness for theater began during her time at El Roble Intermediate School. She remembers her eighth grade English class reading “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, while its spin-off, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” was being mounted as a play at the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga. Leopold saw the performance for extra credit and recalled the play starred Derek Klena — who recently played Christian’s replacement in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” at Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New York.
Intrigued by the performance, she auditioned for the playhouse’s summer musical, “The Wizard of Oz.” She was cast as a singing poppy and as a citizen of Oz.
“I think Claremont built me in a lot of wonderful ways,” Leopold said. At CHS she was part of the theater department, was on the speech and debate team, choir, and competed in track and field and basketball. “I think all of them taught me skills on how to be a professional, how to conduct myself in the real world.”
A high school aptitude test showed she was best suited to be a theater actress. But it wasn’t until after graduating in 2012 that she began to realize theater might be her calling.
She developed her acting and vocal talents while at Vanguard University, where she earned bachelors’ degrees in English and musical theatre. She has been a professional theater performer for just under a decade and often travels the world for roles.
After working at Hong Kong Disneyland early last year, Leopold received an inquiry from the Tara Rubin Casting Company asking when she’d be available for a callback for “SIX.” She did five rounds of callbacks over the summer before other work took her to Thailand.
She remembers getting a call at about 3 a.m. local time informing her she had landed the part as an alternate for “SIX.” She began on November 1, 2022.
Her love for theater has evolved over time, much like her.
“Each show you do, each character you play, you grow from something that you learned from that character,” she said. “I think it’s just helped me grow as a person and has certainly followed and mirrored seasons of my life.
“This show in particular, which is about women’s empowerment and reclaiming your story, certainly came at a very vital time in my life. [I’m] recently divorced from a very toxic situation and to be able to stand on stage and reclaim my own story I think is super inspiring for me and I hope it does the same of anybody else that’s going through this similar situation.”
As a young biracial woman, Leopold hopes to be a mouthpiece for those in her shoes whenever on stage.
“I want them to know that they have a voice and that they should never silence themselves,” she said.
Although a fairly new face on Broadway, Leopold offered some inspirational advice for those looking to “make it there.”
“I didn’t move to New York to make this happen,” she said. “I didn’t have an agent. I was non-union at the time and I could still make it happen for myself. There’s no formula. There’s no right or wrong answer. And there’s no set pathway to achieving a dream.”
Leopold has other interests, but in the midst of “SIX,” they’re on hold for now.
“The eight shows a week, six days a week, work-week is fairly brutal,” she said. “In the one off day I have, the focus is certainly sleep.”
Leopold’s contract with “SIX” runs until the end of the year, meaning theater goers have the rest of 2023 to see the Claremont native on the big stage. “SIX” is at the Lena Horne Theatre, 256 W. 47th St., New York, Wednesday through Monday. Tickets run from $100 to over $400. For details visit sixonbroadway.com.
After “SIX,” it’ll be back to the drawing board.
Asked about any roles she’d like to take in the future, she immediately answered with Elphaba from “Wicked,” saying it would mean a lot to be the first Black full-time Elphaba on Broadway. However, she’s more than content with what comes her way.
“Anything that the good Lord has for me I will happily take,” she said. “[“SIX”] was not necessarily on the radar and it was put in my path and I’m so thankful.
“We’re just riding the rollercoaster.”