After knocking around the old hometown for close to a year, Lisa Finegold is anxious to get back to work.
She wants to return to Broadway.
Broadway, of course, isn’t back in business just yet – it’ll be summertime at least before the lights come up again on the Great White Way – but this St. Petersburg native, who’s gainfully employed by the New York theater industry, is restless. After all, there’s only so much dancing and singing you can do for Mom and the relatives in the family living room.
Finegold, a 2007 graduate of the Pinellas County Center for the Arts, has appeared in Rock of Ages and Head Over Heels on Broadway, and on lengthy national tours of Wicked and Hamilton. She has dozens of touring (and regional theater) credits.
When the rising pandemic forced everybody’s curtains down last March, she was in Miami with the Broadway touring company of Hamilton, as dance captain and swing (the latter means she was called upon – often – to replace ensemble members who had to miss a performance, for whatever reason).
Dance captain, Finegold explains, “is kind of half performer, half manager. If I’m not performing, my responsibilities are to watch the show, to note the show and then give people notes where it’s needed. It’s also my responsibility to teach new people who are coming into the show, and teach them their parts, along with my male co-dance captain.”
Hamilton tours with a resident choreographer, with whom Finegold works closely.
Head Over Heels, a jukebox musical blending a fairytale storyline with music by the band the Go-Go’s, ran for a year on Broadway in 2018-19, with Finegold as dance captain and swing. “The whole process of creating a new Broadway show, being a part of it from the ground up, is just so different from anything I’d experienced,” she says. “You’re sitting in a room with the director and it’s suddenly like ‘How do we end this show?’ And if you have an idea, you say it.”
She also understudied Philoclea, one of the show’s principal singing roles, which created an interesting dynamic because the character’s love interest was played by Finegold’s own boyfriend, actor/singer Andrew Durand.
Immediately after the Go-Go’s musical ended, Finegold picked up the Hamilton tour.
“When we got canceled in Miami, on March 13, I rented a car, drove to St. Pete, thought I’d be at my mom’s house for like two weeks. ‘This is great! Two weeks off of work. I’m stressed, I work all the time … two weeks off will be great.’”
Three months in, things were not any more hopeful.
She bought a car, and together she and Durand took off on a cross-country road trip. For another three months. “We thought that was going to fill the time, that we’d be back to work,” Finegold explains. “He has a Broadway show opening that he’s attached to …
“Well, we’ve been back for a couple months now. We’re getting in all the family time we can because we really don’t have anything else to do. And we don’t really want to be in New York for the winter.”
Her next gig is assured, as the uber-successful Hamilton is expected to pick up right where it left off.
Whenever that is.
Until then, Finegold is back at home, looking through the old photo albums that show her performing in the area’s arts magnet schools – first DaVinci Academy, then John Hopkins Middle and finally the PCCA. She also studied dance with Suzanne Pomerantzeff at St. Petersburg’s Academy of Ballet Arts.
After high school, Finegold majored in dance and vocal performance at the Boston Conservatory, where she earned a degree in Musical Theater. She landed the national Rock of Ages tour at the end of her senior year and has yet to look back.
“I knew from a very young age that I wanted to do it all,” Finegold says. “I think I have the most natural, raw ability for dance, and the other stuff I had to work a little bit harder to do and cultivate to a place where I felt comfortable.
“So that’s kind of always been my challenge, really, becoming a full, well-rounded triple threat.”